Despite picking a quarterback in the first round, the New England Patriots are still plenty flexible entering the second and third. They own “only” two selections on those two days, but have the Day 3 ammunition to possibly move around the board and bolster the depth of a roster that appears to be well set at most positions. New England should therefore be expected to once more be quite active.
This holds especially true considering that there is still plenty of talent available as a look at the top 50 selections remaining on friend of Pats Pulpit Arif Hasan’s Big Board shows:
First-round talents (6)
26 members of the first-round talent group were drafted on Day 1.
Teven Jenkins (Oklahoma State)
While the Patriots are well set at offensive tackle for the 2021 season with Isaiah Wynn and Trent Brown locked into the starting positions, the outlook beyond this year is somewhat murky given that both are currently scheduled to enter unrestricted free agency. Accordingly, New England might decide to invest in an offensive tackle — and Jenkins is the best still available on the second day.
Interior offensive line
Landon Dickerson (Alabama)
New England’s interior offensive line is well set after David Andrews and Ted Karras were re-signed in free agency. While bringing some developmental talent behind the starters on board might be a good plan with Karras on a one-year deal, the expectation is that such a move will not happen on Day 2.
Interior defensive line
Christian Barmore (Alabama)
No interior defensive linemen were drafted on Thursday, which did not come as a surprise given that the class lacks true difference-makers this year. Barmore is the best of the bunch, but he will likely be selected before the Patriots are on the clock at No. 46.
Azeez Ojulari (Georgia)
Even though there was a run at edge defenders late in the first round some talented players made it to Day 2 without being picked. The best among them might be Ojulari, even though there is no guarantee that New England will go after him after already investing considerable resources in free agency and early during the draft the last two offseasons.
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (Notre Dame)
Even though New England has a need at the off-the-ball linebacker position and Owusu-Koramoah is the top-rated player available, it would not be a surprise if the team decided against drafting him even if he fell to No. 46. After all, the Patriots already have Kyle Dugger and Adrian Phillips to fill the nickel linebacker role in their defense.
Trevon Moehrig (TCU)
No safety was drafted on Day 1, with the best player available this year slipping to the second round. Trevon Moehrig would be an intriguing addition to a New England defense that added Dugger in the second round a year ago but might need more depth given that Devin McCourty’s future beyond 2021 is in question.
Second-round talents (26)
6 members of the second-round talent group were drafted on Day 1.
Javonte Williams (North Carolina)
Williams was a productive member of North Carolina’s running back committee, which could prompt the Patriots to look his way at one point on Day 2. Even though he does not offer much as a receiver out of the backfield, he could help replace Sony Michel, who is scheduled to enter the final year of his rookie deal.
Elijah Moore (Ole Miss), Terrace Marshall Jr. (LSU), Rondale Moore (Purdue), Dyami Brown (North Carolina)
Despite five wide receivers getting drafted on the first day, there is still plenty of talent left to be taken on the second. With New England seemingly always in need for upgrades — even after investing considerable resources in Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne during free agency — it would not be a surprise if one member of this group found his way to the Patriots. Rondale Moore and Terrace Marshall Jr. in particular appear to be fits.
Pat Freiermuth (Penn State)
The Patriots signed the two best tight ends available in free agency, which basically guarantees that they will not invest in the position this year especially in one of the early rounds. Freiermuth is an interesting prospect, but he will play elsewhere in 2021 and beyond.
Samuel Cosmi (Texas), Liam Eichenberg (Notre Dame), Dillon Radunz (North Dakota State), Jalen Mayfield (Michigan)
As noted above, the offensive tackle position is an under-the-radar need for New England this year. With plenty of talented players still available, we could see an early run. If one or more players out of this group make it to the 46th overall selection, however, the Patriots should be seen as a potential landing spot.
Interior offensive line
Creed Humphrey (Oklahoma), Wyatt Davis (Ohio State)
As noted above, New England has limited need for top-tier interior line talent at this point in time. Unless the value becomes too good to pass up at one point, New England might decide to wait before digging into the developmental center and guard pool.
Interior defensive line
Levi Onwuzurike (Washington), Carlos Basham Jr. (Wake Forest), Daviyon Nixon (Iowa)
The Patriots were heavy spenders in free agency and also upgraded their interior D-line quite a bit. Nonetheless, more bodies with long-term potential might be needed and this group right here presents some intriguing options. Onwuzurike and Nixon are more in the mold of Lawrence Guy, while Basham Jr. could help provide depth behind Deatrich Wise Jr.
Joseph Ossai (Texas), Ronnie Perkins (Oklahoma)
The edge position is somewhat top heavy this year, but both Ossai and Perkins are solid players who should help the team that drafts them. Could it be the Patriots? Possibly, but it would also not be a surprise if they just stayed put with the talent they have under contract — at least early on Day 2.
Nick Bolton (Missouri), Jabril Cox (LSU)
Bolton and Cox are players to watch for the Patriots. Not only would they fit the team’s defensive scheme, they also would serve as developmental options who one day might be tasked with taking over the inside/move role from franchise legend Dont’a Hightower. While those are enormous shoes to fill, both Bolton and Cox have the developmental upside to maybe one day develop into adequate players for New England.
Asante Samuel Jr. (Florida State), Ifeatu Melifonwu (Syracuse), Tyson Campbell (Georgia), Elijah Molden (Washington), Aaron Robinson (Central Florida)
Even though the top-four at the cornerback position (and Georgia’s Eric Stokes) all went in the first round, the second tier still features some good talent — and two familiar names: Asante Samuel Jr. is the son of the former Patriots cornerback, while Ifeatu Melifonwu’s brother spent time in New England in 2018 and 2019.
Jevon Holland (Oregon), Richie Grant (Central Florida)
In case Moehrig comes off the board at an unfavorable spot for New England, the team might decide to go after either Holland or Grant. That is, if it even wants to invest in a safety to begin with following last year’s investment in Kyle Dugger.
Third-round talents (18+)
No members of the third-round talent group were drafted on Day 1.
Michael Carter (North Carolina)
As opposed to his aforementioned teammate Javonte Williams, Carter offers a bit more in the receiving game and could therefore help New England fill the change-of-pace role previously occupied by Rex Burkhead. And with James White headed towards unrestricted free agency as well after this season, bringing in a player early rather than late could be the team’s plan.
Amon-Ra St. Brown (USC), Tylan Wallace (Oklahoma State), D’Wayne Eskridge (Western Michigan), Amari Rogers (Clemson), Nico Collins (Michigan)
This year’s wide receiver class is a deep one as evidenced by the fact that all five players listed here in the Round 3 group could become instant starters in New England. All of them fit the general mold of what the Patriots want from their wideouts, with Amari Rogers and D’Wayne Eskridge in particular standing out among the group.
Tommy Tremble (Notre Dame)
Different tight end, same situation. The Patriots are well set at the position and have no need to invest in another tight end this early in the draft. Don’t count on Tremble ending up in New England.
Jackson Carman (Clemson), Brady Christensen (BYU)
Carman and Christensen helped protect the top two picks of this years draft, Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson. Now, they could be brought in to be developed into blockers for the 15th overall selection, Mac Jones.
Interior offensive line
Quinn Meinerz (Wisconsin-Whitewater), Josh Myers (Ohio State), Trey Smith (Tennessee)
If the Patriots want to add developmental depth to their interior offensive line, the third round might be the sweet spot for them. They did just that two years ago when they selected Hjalte Froholdt (and also tackle Yodny Cajuste), and might just go down that route again while hoping for better results this time.
Interior defensive line
Alim McNeill (North Carolina State)
McNeill offers an intriguing set of tools to work with, and might be given a chance to slowly develop behind the scenes in New England. Ending up on a team such as the Patriots might be the ideal scenario for a raw player such as him.
Baron Browning (Ohio State), Pete Werner (Ohio State), Chazz Surratt (North Carolina)
All three inside linebackers potentially available in this range project well into New England’s system. Browning in particular is a player to keep an eye on in case he falls to the Patriots: he has a physical skillset that would fit perfectly into the Hightower-like move role. He could learn behind the scenes early in his career before possibly taking over further down the line.
Kelvin Joseph (Kentucky), Paulson Adebo (Stanford)
The third-round cornerback group is not as deep as the second-round group, but both Joseph and Adebo might here their names called by New England. After all, the Patriots are in need of some help at the position with both Stephon Gilmore and J.C. Jackson currently on their way to unrestricted free agency next spring.
Best of the rest: DT Jay Tufele (USC), DT Tommy Togiai (Ohio State), OT Spencer Brown (Northern Iowa), LB Rashad Weaver (Pittsburgh), OL Deonte Brown (Alabama), OL Ben Cleveland (Georgia), DT Tyler Shelvin (LSU)