The third and final day of the NFL’s 2020 draft is in the books, and it saw the New England Patriots again be among the more active teams in the league: Bill Belichick and company ended up making five total selections. The players added certainly could have an impact on the team this year even though their status as Day Three selections do not make them locks to be on the team. That said, they will push returning veterans for practice reps, preseason playing time and eventually roster spots
With that said, let’s take a look at those impacted the most by the decisions New England did or did not make on Saturday.
Winner: QB Brian Hoyer
After fellow quarterback Jarrett Stidham solidified his standing as the Patriots’ projected QB1 over the first two days of the draft, Hoyer’s own status as the top backup was boosted by the fact that the team also did not draft a passer on Day Three. Reported free agency addition J’Mar Smith could give him a run for his money, just like he did when he arrived as an UDFA in 2009 and promptly beat out veterans Kevin O’Connell and Matt Gutierrez, but Hoyer appears to be safe as the Robin to Stidham’s Batman for the time being.
Winner: P Jake Bailey
The fifth-round selection of kicker Justin Rohrwasser is good news for the Patriots’ kicking operation as a whole, but for punter Jake Bailey in particular. After all, Rohrwasser brings experience as a kickoff specialist to the table — a role that fell to Bailey in 2019 after the injury suffered by Stephen Gostkowski. Bailey performed well in this role, but by the end of the year appeared to get more inconsistent when it came to punting the football as a result. Rohrwasser’s selection should help him focus on just one job again.
Winners: DT Byron Cowart, DT Nick Thurman
Even though New England entered the draft with sufficient depth at the defensive tackle position, seeing the team add to the group would not have been a surprise considering that both Lawrence Guy and Adam Butler are headed for free agency next year. The Patriots opted not to add further depth along the interior D-line, however, which in turn can be seen as good news for returning depth options Byron Cowart and Nick Thurman.
Losers: G Hjalte Froholdt, G Jermaine Eluemunor, G Najee Toran
Of the Patriots’ five selections on Saturday, three were made to bolster the interior offensive line: New England picked Michael Onwenu and Justin Herron in the sixth round, before adding Dustin Woodard in the seventh. While Froholdt and Eluemunor should still be considered as favorites to carve out depth roles behind the starting three — center David Andrews, guards Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason — the three draft selections will make for added competition at the position when it comes to roster and practice squad spots.
Loser: LB Ja’Whaun Bentley
Considering the linebacker exodus in free agency, Ja’Whaun Bentley will likely be on the Patriots’ roster in 2020 regardless of the team drafting Wyoming’s Cassh Maluia in the sixth round. That said, the rookie could still cut into Bentley’s playing time in case he adapts quickly to life in the NFL. Likewise, Bentley needs to continue to show growth in his third year with Maluia added as potential competition for the early-down off-the-ball role alongside Dont’a Hightower.
Winners: OT Yodny Cajuste, OT Korey Cunningham
Sixth-round draft pick Justin Herron enters the NFL with considerable experience at tackle after starting 51 games at the position during his time at Wake Forest, but he projects best on the interior at the next level. As a result, the Patriots’ tackle depth chart remained unchanged over the last three days: Isaiah Wynn and Marcus Cannon were locked into the starting spots either way, but depth options Yodny Cajuste and Korey Cunningham also did not see any competition added to the equation.
Winners: WR Mohamed Sanu, WR Jakobi Meyers, WR Damiere Byrd, WR Marqise Lee, WR Gunner Olszewski, WR Quincy Adeboyejo, WR Devin Ross
For the third day in a row, the depth wide receivers on New England’s roster find themselves in the winner category. Why? Because for the third day in a row, the Patriots did not opt to dip into one of the deepest talent pools in recent memory. Even though a total of 32 wide receivers were drafted over the last three days — including 19 on Day Three alone — the team opted to stay put and will move forward with the talent it already has under contract. Sure, the rookie free agency class could change the picture a bit, but the draft itself was a positive one from the perspective of Mohamed Sanu and company.