The second day of the NFL’s 2020 draft is in the books, and it saw the New England Patriots be among the most active teams in the league: Bill Belichick and company conducted three trades and ended up making five total selections. The players added to the equation certainly will have an impact on the team this year — their status as Day Two selections make them de facto roster locks — and some of the players that are already under contract.
With that said, let’s take a look at those impacted the most by the decisions New England did or did not make on Friday.
Losers: TE Matt LaCosse and TE Ryan Izzo
While the tight end position was one of the weakest in this year’s draft, the Patriots double-dipped in Round Three: New England selected UCLA’s Devin Asiasi with the 91st overall pick before adding Virginia Tech’s Dalton Keene with pick number 101. Both times the team traded up to get its target guys. While Asiasi and Keene offer different skillsets — the former is a traditional in-line tight end, the latter more of a flex option — they are both guaranteed to be on the team this September, thus putting considerable pressure on returning veterans Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo to compete for what very well may be only one roster spot.
Winners: WR Mohamed Sanu, WR Jakobi Meyers, WR Damiere Byrd, WR Marqise Lee, WR Gunner Olszewski, WR Quincy Adeboyejo, WR Devin Ross
This year’s wide receiver class is considered one of the deepest in recent memory, and the first three rounds served as proof of that: a total of 16 wide receivers came off the board between Thursday and Friday. New England did not select one of them, however, which in turn is good news for the depth wideouts currently on the Patriots’ payroll. While the team might add more depth and upside in one of the later rounds — Donovan Peoples-Jones, Antonio Gandy-Golden and James Proche are potential names to watch — the group above did survive the first two days of the event without any additional challengers being added.
Winner: QB Jarrett Stidham
While a third quarterback will be added to the equation, according to Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio, the first two days of the draft paint a rather clear picture: the team sees Jarrett Stidham as its QB1 and the successor for free agency departee Tom Brady. On Friday, only one quarterback came off the board — Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts — and he went to the Philadelphia Eagles rather than New England. Add the fact that the team upgraded its tight end depth chart significantly on Friday and you get why Stidham should feel good about himself and his status on the roster right now.
Losers: S Obi Melifonwu, S Malik Gant, S Adarius Pickett
After the addition of Kyle Dugger with the 37th overall selection, the Patriots have nine safeties on their roster. However, only six of them should be considered safe when it comes to their outlook for the 2020 season: the Lenoir-Rhyne joins Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Adrian Phillips, Terrence Brooks and Cody Davis as the only safeties on the team who should feel confident in their chances of making the team in September. Sure, Obi Melifonwu, Malik Gant and Adarius Pickett could surprise over the course of the summer, but it seems more likely that the addition of Dugger sealed their fate for good.
Losers: LB Brandon Copeland, LB Derek Rivers, LB Shilique Calhoun, LB Keionta Davis, LB Terez Hall
The Patriots may not have added big-name edge defenders A.J. Epenesa, Yetur Gross-Matos or Zack Baun to the equation on Thursday, but they still addressed their defensive edge and the move linebacker positions. The team drafted Michigan’s Josh Uche with the 60th overall selection, and later followed that pick up by also investing in Alabama’s Anfernee Jennings at No. 87. The two youngsters have intriguing upside and the versatility to fill the roles previously held by Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins. The other linebackers on the team fitting that description — Brandon Copeland, Derek Rivers, Shilique Calhoun, Keionta Davis and Terez Hall — will therefore face a tough competition for the final roster spots alongside them and locks Chase Winovich and John Simon.
Winner: OG Joe Thuney
Heading into this week there was speculation whether or not the Patriots could decide to trade starting left guard Joe Thuney after contract negotiations with him have reportedly gone nowhere so far. The 27-year-old remains on the roster for the time being, however, and it seems unlikely that he will get moved for a late-round draft pick. Nothing is set in stone just yet — including a player-for-player swap — but all signs now point towards Thuney remaining in New England for the time being.