The NFL world has officially hit the homestretch of draft season. You’ve heard all about the coverage that we have been doing since January. Weekly podcasts and draft profiles have tried to give you in-depth looks at individual prospects, while Ryan Spagnoli and Keagan Stiefel’s draft spreadsheet has assaulted you guys with information on over 150 different prospects.
In an effort to make all of this info a little more palatable, we have now got something new for you: A New England Patriots-specific big board with 50 players represented across all seven rounds of the draft. Today we continue with Round 3.
For more information about each prospect listed, please make sure to check out this spreadsheet.
1. QB Jamie Newman, Wake Forest/Georgia
Why the Patriots? The possibility of Newman ending up in New England is entirely reliant upon whether or not they can trade up into the top-10 to draft a quarterback or see one falling to them at No. 15. If they do not exit Round 1 with a new passer, Newman is the exact kind of player they would target — a guy who could serve as an impactful backup while developing under a player (Cam Newton) with similar physical tools.
After a year out of the game and an inconsistent return at the Senior Bowl, Newman has seen his stock slide, making his selection in the third round a good value pick at the very least.
2. QB Davis Mills, Stanford
Why the Patriots? The Patriots need a long-term solution at quarterback but might not be willing to invest considerable future resources to move up in the first round to get one of the top-tier guys. Mills would be a solid second-tier option with some intriguing traits to work with. If New England’s scouts and coaches feel confident in their ability to build on his foundation and make him a more consistent and pro-ready player, he might be a target on Day 2 of the draft.
3. WR D’Wayne Eskridge, Western Michigan
Why the Patriots? Though Damiere Byrd showed flashes last season, the Patriots haven’t had a consistent speed threat at receiver in a few years. Byrd, Phillip Dorsett, and even Chris Hogan have tried to fill that spot to mediocre results. The team signed Nelson Agholor for this upcoming season, but adding a player with the abilities of Eskridge could finally build some depth in that spot.
The Western Michigan receiver would slot in as a solid depth option behind Agholor early in his career with some tremendous upside to take over in the future. Building long-term depth at wide receiver should be a major goal for the Patriots through this year’s draft and the selection of Eskridge would be a great start with little risk.
4. LB Chazz Surratt, North Carolina
Why the Patriots? Maybe the Patriots feel they have enough assets tied up into the development of the future of their linebacking corps. Although Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings are more likely to take over outside roles, the Patriots have expended a lot of resources into making them NFL linebackers. Are they willing to spend more?
Surratt is playing downhill with his decisions already being made for him. Whether that comes as a blitzer or when he’s only responsible for a single gap, he has tremendous survival instincts, making the correct play when forced to react. He is physical enough to mix it up in the middle gaps on early downs and has developed a great knack for timing up blitzes and finding ways to get home to the quarterback. He’s certainly an intriguing plug-and-play option on late downs.
5. LB Cameron McGrone, Michigan
Why the Patriots? McGrone is a very different kind of linebacker than Surratt and even Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings. A purely inside guy throughout his college career, he is much better suited to take over for Dont’a Hightower than to be lumped in with the many move linebackers on the current roster. Fitting in with the current mold of an inside backer, McGrone is a great lateral player who can cover and trigger in the run game. With Hightower’s future uncertain it’s best to start preparing for his replacement, and McGrone would allow them to find that guy on Day 2.
6. EDGE Carlos Basham Jr, Wake Forest
Why the Patriots? New England has done everything in its power to upgrade the run defense. Adding Davon Godchaux and Henry Anderson, and getting Dont’a Hightower back from the Covid-19 opt-out list, will certainly help in the middle. Basham Jr, meanwhile, would be a strong addition to the edge.
Along with Chase Winovich, Kyle Van Noy and Matthew Judon he would make for a complete edge unit that can fit in multiple schemes and fill roles on all four downs. All in all, Basham Jr. would bring not just a tremendous run stopper at the 5-tech, but his addition would help all of the team’s other edge linebacker pieces fall into more natural roles and give the defense some versatility in their defensive fronts.
7. WR Tylan Wallace, Oklahoma State
Why the Patriots? As we mentioned earlier, trying to find depth behind the new wide receiver additions this offseason should be a top priority for the Patriots come next weekend. Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne are each signed on for two and three seasons, respectively, making for a quick turnaround in trying to find their potential replacements. D’Wayne Eskridge fits the mold of an Agholor type while Tylan Wallace — an undersized, yet physical outside receiver who can play multiple positions — would fit much more into a Bourne-type role.
Both men make for tremendous short-yardage and red-zone targets while contributing as underneath receivers in between the 20s.
8. DT Marvin Wilson, Florida State
Why the Patriots? Even though the interior of the Patriots’ defensive line looks to be fully set, the actual depth might turn into a problem as the team gets deeper into the season. Of the nine interior D-linemen currently rostered, only three look like locks given their contracts and prior experience in the NFL. The Patriots are never shy to make upgrades where they feel they are needed, though, and Wilson is a perfect number four option for a team projected to use both 3-4 and 4-3 fronts.
9. DT Alim McNeil, North Carolina State
Why the Patriots? Take everything you just read about Marvin Wilson and apply it to Alim McNeil, who is a much better prospect. In the instance of drafting McNeil, the Patriots are adding an ultra athletic 2-technique who can conceivably play any spot along the defensive line. Similarly to Carlos Basham Jr, McNeil’s addition to the defensive line group would help the entire front seven become more versatile.
10. WR Nico Collins, Michigan
Why the Patriots? Could the Patriots be looking for an upgrade over N’Keal Harry through the draft? A risky but not unlikely scenario that could be explored.
Collins is a big bodied X-receiver who showed out at the Senior Bowl. Compared to Harry, he is a much faster and smoother route runner who knows how to position his body to shield himself from defenders. Drafting a replacement for your former first-round investment just two years later isn’t something Patriots fans will be excited about, but it may be necessary if New England can’t figure out how to use the former 32nd overall pick.