After a comparatively quiet night on Thursday, the New England Patriots were among the busiest teams in the league entering the second day of the NFL draft. Originally holding five selections in rounds number two and three — and a league-high 13 in total — the Patriots ended up with five players while also making three trades up the board as a direct result of their high volume of selections as well as the competitive draft pick value in hand.
New England eventually finished with a comparatively high number of selections and moves around the board, something that the team anticipated heading into Day Two. The Patriots’ director of player personnel, Nick Caserio, had already mentioned this during his media conference call following the first round of the draft — and he reiterated this thought process based around the concept of flexibility on Friday night as well.
“The expectation was that there was probably going to be some kind of movement here today,” said Caserio in his opening statement about a rather active approach. “You never really know what the movement’s going to entail, but we started the day with five picks, we ended the day with five picks. We got there in a sort of indirect way. Used some of the assets that we accumulated previously and used them to acquire players today.”
“I would say especially in this round this was a ‘pick players that you want to have on your team’ and get them in your program and you go ahead and do it,” continued Caserio. “I think as we looked at the board, and I’m kind of projecting forward here a little bit, whether or not we’re actually able to utilize all the picks — it’s a little bit similar to last year: we traded up, but I wouldn’t say it was for any particular reason other than pick and resource allocation and just trying to get players on the team that we thought made sense.”
Of the five selections made by the Patriots on Friday, three were the direct results of trades: New England moved up to secure linebacker Josh Uche with the 60th overall pick in the second round, and later moved up twice in the third to bring tight ends Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene into the fold. The other two selections, safety Kyle Dugger and linebacker Anfernee Jennings, meanwhile, were rather static picks with no trades involved on that day.
Dugger, the first of the Patriots’ draft picks this year, was one of just three players the team had a close eye on entering Round Two — something Caserio pointed out during his video conference call: “Going into [the second] round, we basically had three guys that we wrote down and said ‘if we could get those three guys, we would be somewhat happy.’ He was one of them, Uche was the other one; there was another guy who got picked.”
New England was able to use its resources in order to position itself well and successfully secure two of its three target players. Dugger was the first when he was taken by the Patriots with the 37th overall selection — one acquired as part of Thursday’s trade with the Los Angeles Chargers out of Round One — followed by Uche 23 selections later. In the Michigan defender’s case, however, the Patriots had to use two of their third-rounders (No. 71; No. 98) to climb up in a trade with the Baltimore Ravens.
As a result, Uche now joins Dugger and the Patriots’ other three selections that were made further down the line as the team’s haul on Friday. While all five players picked have intriguing skills that should help them transition to New England’s system, Caserio pointed out that the team’s developmental process would follow a familiar pattern: taking one step at a time while trying to build a framework for the young guys in which to succeed.
“With all these players the expectation is the same: it’s kind of come in, assimilate to our program,” said Caserio. “Obviously, we’re in uncharted waters here, but as soon as we get the opportunity to start working with them, we’re going to do that. We’re just going to take it one day at a time and try to make enough progress and see how much progress they can make on their own between now and the start of the season, whenever that’s going to be.”