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2020 NFL draft grades: Evaluating the Patriots’ performance in the second and third rounds

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Related: NFL Draft recap: Aggressive Patriots make five selections on Day Two

NFL: Super Bowl LIII-New England Patriots vs Los Angeles Rams Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Following a comparatively quiet first round from the New England Patriots’ perspective — the team traded down from the 23rd overall pick to pick up additional Day Two ammunition — the team had a busy draft day on Friday: the team made three more trades and eventually ended up with five player selections. Of course, ever move leads to a reaction and we have compiled some of them here, broken down by the Pats Pulpit community as well as the New England and national perspectives.

View from the Pats Pulpit community

The Patriots’ five selections were met with different reactions. While the tight end picks in the third round did get better grades in the fan polls we attached to each breaking news article, the second-round pick of safety Kyle Dugger out of Lenoir-Rhyne was met with some criticism. With that being said, let’s go through New England’s picks one-by-one to see what the community had to say about them.

2-37: S Kyle Dugger, Lenoir-Rhyne

Poll

How would you grade the Patriots drafting Kyle Dugger?

This poll is closed

  • 15%
    A
    (778 votes)
  • 31%
    B
    (1599 votes)
  • 25%
    C
    (1258 votes)
  • 12%
    D
    (647 votes)
  • 14%
    F
    (750 votes)
5032 votes total Vote Now

“OF COURSE” — botoxporcupine

“I think we all knew this was coming. SB #7 here we come.” — maxofmanetheren

“Whaddaya know? A second-round DB, and something the team didn’t have a great need for.” — rocknrollforyoursoul

“Lol I friggin love BB. This is way less painless when we don’t have to worry about wasting Tom’s prime tho. At least now I look at this should be fifth rounder and drool at the combine numbers” — AMORALES

“Dugger was the first player I scouted. I can see why the Patriots traded out of the first round now. Dugger isn’t a first round pick. But he checks off a lot of boxes that Bill loves. Versatile, athletic, can play multiple roles, and can return punts. This pick makes plenty of sense for round 2.” — Patriots12

“Remember. Everyone laughed when we picked Devin McCourty in the first round, too.” — EA_MAN

“Dugger was not a reach. He was expected to go second round. He was ranked by many as the second best safety in the draft” — kk30

2-60: LB Josh Uche, Michigan

Poll

How would you grade the Patriots drafting Josh Uche?

This poll is closed

  • 30%
    A
    (1129 votes)
  • 42%
    B
    (1563 votes)
  • 18%
    C
    (687 votes)
  • 4%
    D
    (154 votes)
  • 4%
    F
    (163 votes)
3696 votes total Vote Now

“BB is going all Al Davis this draft. Picking speed guys so far” — Victor Kermit Kiam’s Close Shave

“Love love love this pick. Real versatile OLB, good speed rusher and can play in coverage” — Joe_Danger

“Easy A rating. Uche is a beast.” — Yep Yup

“Clearly the 2020 draft plan is To load up the D so we can the tank for Trevor Lawrence or hope Aaron Rodgers demands a trade after GB traded up for Love.” — sdceltsfan

“Heck of a pick. Smart, can play D-Line & LB, and his motor is ridiculous. Love this selection.” — KozyWorld973

3-87: LB Anfernee Jennings, Alabama

Poll

How would you grade the Patriots drafting Anfernee Jennings?

This poll is closed

  • 22%
    A
    (606 votes)
  • 45%
    B
    (1196 votes)
  • 23%
    C
    (617 votes)
  • 4%
    D
    (131 votes)
  • 3%
    F
    (90 votes)
2640 votes total Vote Now

“Good thing we have no offensive needs” — smitherfield

“A Great Defense is the Best Offense? BB wants to win his way to show he doesn’t need Brady.” —Bdiddy63

“This looks like one of the better LB picks we’ve had. This guy has a great first step. Not to mention size.” — maxofmanetheren

“Wonder if he’ll end up as an inside linebacker with his size…incredible smart, technical player but not great athleticism. Maybe a Hightower replacement down the road. could see him move around like Van Noy a bit early on And the replacing Hightower in the middle making the calls” — fightingpols

3-91: TE Devin Asiasi, UCLA

Poll

How would you grade the Patriots drafting Devin Asiasi?

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    A
    (836 votes)
  • 43%
    B
    (1402 votes)
  • 21%
    C
    (695 votes)
  • 5%
    D
    (178 votes)
  • 3%
    F
    (129 votes)
3240 votes total Vote Now

“Why is he wasting a pick on Offense? SMH” — SmashmouthD

“Badly needed a tight end. May not have needed to trade up but at least they got a TEnd.” — rdf63

“Just don’t get it. Unnecessarily giving up picks to move up and ignore a better tight end (Trautman)” — JumpingJudkins

“Good pick. Our TEs were awful this year. This guy can catch and run, not sure on the blocking, but he is big. I know he won’t let dudes run by him like Izzo. They might be able to pick up another TE later too. Now time for some speed on the outside and a QB.” — BacktoTE11days

3-101: TE Dalton Keene, Virginia Tech

Poll

How would you grade the Patriots drafting Dalton Keene?

This poll is closed

  • 19%
    A
    (646 votes)
  • 36%
    B
    (1179 votes)
  • 26%
    C
    (865 votes)
  • 10%
    D
    (334 votes)
  • 6%
    F
    (222 votes)
3246 votes total Vote Now

“Like the player. Bottom of the 3rd seems a little high for him but nothing crazy. Doug Kyed of NESN was gah-gah over him.” — RedemptionCR

“I like it. Expect to see some late round WR talent taken tomorrow.” — chaunceylabonza

“I’m dizzy from all the picks traded for these TEs. I expected both of them to be available on day 3.” — DogeFlutie

“He’s the most intriguing pick to me that we’ve made so far. His college stats aren’t anything special but his tape looks kinda like Gronk trapped in Kittles body. Kittle stats in college weren’t impressive either and he went in the 5h round.” — scubauio


View from New England

“The Patriots, as they usually do, prioritized versatility and four-down ability with their five picks.”Evan Lazar (CLNS Media)

If you want to look at the glass as half-full on this Saturday morning, the Patriots got five players Friday night who fit neatly into definite needs. There are very high ceilings for three of them — Dugger, Uche and Asiasi. If they hit those and a few of the redshirts from last year like Damien Harris, Hjalte Froholdt, Yodny Cajuste and Joejuan Williams turn into something, we may turn around in a year or two and say that the 2019 and 2020 drafts were a lot better than they looked at first blush.” — Tom E. Curran (NBC Sports)

So much for the New England Patriots using a “premium pick” on a quarterback. No wonder we couldn’t figure out how they would accomplish that. The Patriots exited Day 2 of the 2020 NFL Draft without a rookie quarterback. They instead selected Lenoir-Rhyne safety Kyle Dugger, Michigan linebacker Josh Uche, Alabama edge defender Anfernee Jennings, UCLA tight end Devin Asiasi and Virginia Tech tight end Dalton Keene.” Doug Kyed (NESN)

The New England Patriots may not always make popular decisions during the NFL Draft. However, one thing is always certain. They will always do what is best for the football team.” — Mike D’Abate (Full Press Coverage)

“The Patriots are in a transitional phase at safety where the careers of Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung are winding down and Duron Harmon was traded to the Lions. Kyle Dugger projects as a box safety like Chung, and he’ll need time to develop after playing Division II ball. Who better to learn from than two of the dynasty’s most respected leaders? Dugger plays hard, runs downhill and has a nose for the ball — all traits coveted by Bill Belichick. He could be a long-term impact player.” — Jeff Howe (The Athletic)

Uche will likely start his career as a third-down player, but he has the physical tools to work on setting the edge in the running game, which is how he’ll earn a role on every down. Surely, he has a window to earn a starting job early on.” — Henry McKenna (Patriots Wire)

“Just in case late second-rounder Josh Uche doesn’t deliver. You can afford to draft for depth when you have over a dozen picks. This particular pick is an excellent scheme fit; Jennings’s sound technique has earned him comparisons to Kyle Van Noy.” — Devon Clements (Patriot Maven) [Grade: B]

There were better pass-catchers and bigger names available on the board when New England selected Asiasi, but he went under the radar because of UCLA’s sporadic offense. He ran a 4.7 40-yard dash and ran his best routes in the seam and off play-action passes. The Patriots desperately needed a tight end ever since Rob Gronkowski retired and Asiasi will help fill that void. Ryan Izzo and Matt LaCosse were the only rostered tight ends coming into the draft and they had very little production in the 2019 season. Asiasi gives New England a guy who could come in as an immediate starter.” — Isaiah Houde (Patriots Wire) [Grade: A-]

Just 10 picks after selecting Asiasi, the Patriots double-dipped at the position by trading back into the third round for the 6-foot-4, 253-pound Keene. A former running back, Keene showed a knack for making plays after the catch and was durable, appearing in 38 career games and aligning in various spots. It was clear that the Patriots had to add to their tight end position entering the draft, as they had only Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo on the depth chart, and they quickly doubled their personnel — and gave up volume in draft capital to do so. It was an aggressive finish to the second day of the draft.” — Mike Reiss (ESPN Boston)


National view

“Instead of taking some dull butter knives, New England went for Swiss Army knives in this year’s draft. It’s not a strategy uncommon to the Patriots but ultimately puts them in a great position for future success, even without an established quarterback currently on the roster.” — Carter Donnick (The Draft Network)

Kyle Dugger is a versatile performer who will work in the box for the Patriots. He’s tough and quick to the ball. Belichick found a pass rusher in a trade-up for Uche, an athletic edge rusher who helped meet one of the team’s major needs. He joins his former teammate in Ann Arbor, Chase Winovich, on the Patriots. Jennings can play opposite Uche and Winovich, providing a nice one-two punch on the outside. New England traded up for Asiasi to meet a big tight end need; he’s an athletic guy who was underutilized in the Bruins’ offense. He won’t be ignored with the Patriots. They moved up again to pick Keene. The athleticism he showed at the combine likely bumped him up a round or two in this draft. He’s a nice blocker/receiver-type whom Belichick will use in many ways. Apparently the Patriots decided it was time to address that position, as they were willing to part with picks to get their guys.” — Chad Reuter (NFL.com) [Grade: A]

After trading out of the first round, the Pats were loaded with Day 2 picks to fill a ton of needs. They still haven’t taken a quarterback, so it looks like they need to just surround Jarrett Stidham with as much help as possible. Instead, the early picks were all on defense for Bill Belichick, starting with one of this year’s top small-school prospects in Lenoir-Rhyne safety Kyle Dugger. Michigan’s Josh Uche is another versatile defender who will excel in this defense, and Alabama’s Anfernee Jennings is a quintessential Belichick edge player. Ending things on a double-dip and tight end made sense, but their choices were puzzling, given what was available. UCLA’s Devin Asiasi was a fast riser that made some sense, but Virginia Tech’s Dalton Keene was taken at least two rounds too soon, and ahead of some way better players at his position.” — Luke Easterling (Draft Wire) [Grade: C+]

“Belichick was focused on trading flurries of picks and rebooting his aging defense by getting a bunch of athletic, versatile talents, not setting up training wheels for his new QB.” — Dan Wetzel (Yahoo! Sports)

The Patriots think about the near future with their aging safety situation with one who plays like a linebacker, fitting in with the versatile mode of Bill Belichick’s defensive back seven. Dugger can be the complete package thanks to the size (6-1, 217 pounds), speed, strength and explosiveness that would have allowed him to dominate in the FBS. He is capable of starting at either safety spot because he brings it hard against the run and has the hands and instincts to blossom in coverage.” — Vinnie Iyer (The Sporting News) [Grade: A]

Huh. After weeks of Zack Baun getting mocked to the Patriots in the first round, New England had a chance to grab the versatile Wisconsin linebacker and ... picked up a different Big Ten standout instead. Uche is a raw talent, but that just means Bill Belichick can yell him into the perfect defender over the next four years or trade him to the Lions in 2022 instead.” — Christian D’Andrea, Adam Stites, Sarah Hardy (SB Nation)

Just in case late second-rounder Josh Uche doesn’t deliver. You can afford to draft for depth when you have over a dozen picks. This particular pick is an excellent scheme fit; Jennings’s sound technique has earned him comparisons to Kyle Van Noy.” — Andy Benoit (Sports Illustrated)

New England’s top three tight ends combined for 36 catches last season. Asiasi had 44 catches on his own under Chip Kelly in 2019. He’s going to have a chance to start immediately ... and catch passes from, uh, Brian Hoyer? Jarrett Stidham? Some 2020 Day 3 draftee?” — Christian D’Andrea, Adam Stites, Sarah Hardy (SB Nation)

Another athletic H-back type for the Patriots to deploy all over the field. Twitchy, fun after the catch. Gives some blocking production too. Just weird Patriots went back-to-back picks with stylistically the same player.” — Chris Trapasso (CBS) [Grade: C+]