The New England Patriots wrapped up the 2021 NFL Draft on Saturday, making five picks over the course of the final four rounds. A group of men whose focus looks like it will be on learning behind the established starters on the roster, in hopes to serve a greater purpose down the road.
They started off with making a fairly surprising selection in Oklahoma running back Rhamondre Stevenson.
They then moved back to the defensive side of the ball, selecting Michigan linebacker Cameron McGrone with the 177th pick and Missouri safety Joshuah Bledsoe with the 188th selection.
They finished off the night by selecting Colorado offensive lineman William Sherman with pick number 197, and Central Florida wide receiver Tre Nixon at 242.
A total of five selections, each addressing needs for the future. Let’s find out who was impacted most.
Winner: The draft picks
We’ll group each draft pick together as their appearance in the winners column is obvious.
Stevenson, McGrone, Bledsoe, Sherman, and Nixon all saw their dreams come true by being selected in the NFL Draft. They’ll all come into New England with an opportunity to carve out a role for themselves and contribute to Bill Belichick’s squad. Congratulations are in order to all five men.
Now let’s get down to brass tax.
Winner: RB J.J. Taylor
At first glance, it may not seem like Taylor is a winner. The former undrafted free agent did just see New England pick up another body for the running back room. The good news however, is that Rhamondre Stevenson is the exact opposite kind of running back everyone assumed the Patriots would target. With Stevenson serving as an addition to the early down group, Taylor looks to be the lone player that can serve as James White’s understudy. His path to a long-term roster spot is starting to look more clear.
Loser: RB Sony Michel
Whether it comes in the form of a trade, release, or declined option. It is looking for and more likely that Sony Michel finds himself somewhere other than New England in 2022. Damien Harris emerged as the number one option for the Patriots rushing attack while Michel was on IR, and now the Patriots have taken another early down option in Rhamondre Stevenson. It is very unlikely that New England picks up a $4.5 million option for a future number three option.
Losers: LB’s Ja’Whaun Bentley and Terez Hall
The Patriots were lucky enough to get a third round talent with the 177th pick in linebacker Cameron McGrone. A late season knee injury compromised his draft stock and made him available to the Patriots in round 5, a true steal.
A great move for the Patriots, also serves as a tough one for linebackers Ja’Whaun Bentley and Terez Hall. Both of whom will become free agents at the end of the 2021 season. Even if McGrone redshirts a season, it looks like his ceiling is as the man in the middle for New England. Bentley and Hall proved in 2020 that the same can not be said for them.
Winner: S Kyle Dugger
It was widely believed that if the Patriots made a move for a safety, it would be for a free roaming guy that could eventually take over for Devin McCourty. Though they did make a selection at safety it was for another hybrid box/slot guy, similar to that of Kyle Dugger one year ago. What that signals to Dugger is that the future of the secondary belongs to him. After spending the majority of his college career playing single high in the Lenoir-Rhyne defense, he was asked to be a chess piece in his rookie season. It looks like once Devin McCourty hangs them up, Dugger will be allowed to play his more natural role.
Winner: The fans
Especially those of you who go to training camp! The selections of both Tre Nixon and William Sherman mean one thing for sure, training camp competition will be very fun to watch. WR/DB one-on-ones should be a joy, especially with the speed that Nixon brings. Adding Sherman to the offensive line group will provide some depth to those pass rush drills that we all know and love. Any addition that influences competition is a positive.