The New England Patriots acquired a top talent in the draft at a premiere position of need with the selection of cornerback Christian Gonzalez Thursday night.
With a major hole now filled in New England’s secondary, Bill Belichick and Co. will have a number of options on how to attack Day 2 of the NFL Draft. After a chaotic first round, plenty of talent remains on the board for the Patriots as they look to continue to add to their roster.
Entering the day, New England is set with selections No. 46 and 76, but have plenty of ammunition with 11 total picks to be aggressive. So, let’s reset the board — with some help from our very own Pats Pulpit Big Board — to find the best remaining talent for the Patriots on Day Two.
(*denotes players not listed on the Pats Pulpit big board)
12 members of the big board’s first-round talent group were drafted on Day 1.
Potential targets: Will Levis (Kentucky)
One of the biggest surprises from round one was Kentucky quarterback Will Levis going untouched. While there are some accuracy concerns at the next level, Levis has all the physical traits in a modern-day NFL quarterback. The Patriots, who held the QB on a top-30 visit, passed on him at No. 14, but perhaps could be intrigued by the talent on Day Two.
Potential targets: Michael Mayer* (Notre Dame)
Mayer’s average athletic profile was the most likely cause he is pushed to Day Two. But, he’s a do-it all player with alignment versatility at the next level. Mayer is a smooth recover with a large catch radius and is a NFL-ready blocker.
Potential targets: Joey Porter Jr. (Penn State)
A widely regarded top-three cornerback entering the draft, Porter Jr. watched as four other cornerbacks came off the board in front of him. He’s extremely long and physical on the outside, but would likely be off New England’s radar with Christian Gonzalez now in the mix.
Potential targets: Brian Branch (Alabama)
A pedestrian combine performance (5.27 Relative Athletic Score) likely dropped Branch from the first- to second-round in this year’ draft. Like Mayer, he’s not a top-notch athlete, but was extremely reliable as a do-it all safety for Nick Saban in Tuscaloosa - making him an obvious fit for New England.
4 members of the big board’s second-round talent group were drafted on Day 1.
Potential targets: Hendon Hooker* (Tennessee)
It seems unlikely New England would go this route in round two, but Hooker has impressive physical traits at the position. Perhaps they see value here.
Potential targets: Josh Downs (UNC)
After addressing the defense in round one, adding a weapon for Mac Jones could be in the cards on Day Two. Downs is the best of the bunch as a super shifty slot receiver who was ultra productive during his time in Chapel Hill.
Potential targets: Darnell Washington (Georgia), Sam LaPorta (Iowa)
A late-round run of wide receivers Thursday night could result in the Patriots finding better value at tight end. Washington and LaPorta provide quite different skillsets but are both projected to come off the board in round two.
Potential targets: Dawand Jones (Ohio State)
It seems likely New England will add to their offensive tackle group at some point on Day Two. There are some intriguing options still in the board which includes Ohio State’s Dawand Jones. The former Buckeye has drawn comparisons to Trent Brown due to his 6-foot-8, 374 pounds frame.
Potential targets: Keion White (Georgia Tech), B.J. Ojulari (LSU)
With Matthew Judon entering his age 31 season and Josh Uche in the final year of his rookie deal, it should be no surprise to see the Patriots add an edge rusher early in this draft. Ojulari is an impressive athlete off the edge while White’s combination of size (6-5, 286) and speed make him a Patriots fit.
Potential targets: Dalyan Henley* (Washington State), Drew Sanders* (Arkansas), Trenton Simpson* (Clemson)
Linebacker would be a bit of a surprise pick in round two for the Patriots after they brought back their entire group from last season. If they did though, Henley, Sanders, Simpson are strong athletes and extremely talented options in the second level
Potential targets: Cam Smith (South Carolina), Kelee Ringo (Georgia)
Again, New England likely won't be eager to dip back into the cornerback market in this draft after taking Gonzalez. But, a player like Ringo may still be on their radar as an overall talented football player who might be best at the safety position in the NFL.
0 members of the big board’s third-round talent group were drafted on Day 1.
Potential targets: Zach Charbonnet* (UCLA)
Charbonnet is a powerful, downhill runner who also flashed some pass catching ability for Chip Kelly at UCLA. Over the last two seasons, he averaged just over 18 carries per game for the Bruins and piled up over 2,500 rushing yards and 27 touchdowns. He’d be a strong pair with Rhamondre Stevenson.
Potential targets: Marvin Mims (Oklahoma), Jonathan Mingo (Ole Miss), Cedric Tillman (Tennessee), Jaylin Hyatt* (Tennessee)
This feels like the sweet spot for the Patriots to add at the wide receiver position. Mims, Mingo, and Hyatt provide legit top-end speed while Tillman is a big body X receiver that could challenge DeVante Parker’s roster spot from the jump. Mims and Mingo project as the best fits for New England’s current receiving room.
Potential targets: Luke Schoonmaker (Michigan), Tucker Kraft (South Dakota State), Luke Musgrave* (Oregon State)
New England has had interest in both Schoonmaker and Kraft throughout the pre-draft process, making both of them strong projections in round three. Both have good size at the position checking in at 6-foot-5 and a tick above 250 pounds and still are impressive athletes. They may be better additions to the current room over Musgrave, who is more of a pure receiver.
Potential targets: Matthew Bergeron (Syracuse), Blake Freeland (BYU), Wanya Morris (Oklahoma), Tyler Steen (Alabama), Cody Mauch* (North Dakota State)
If New England follows a similar path they did last year when they waited to address their biggest need at cornerback until the third- and fourth-round, there will be some intriguing tackles available to them. Bergeron and Morris project as prototypical Patriots right tackles while Freeland is an athletic prospect at 6-foot-8. Steen should also be on their radar coming from Alabama. He’s extremely versatile along the line, as is Mauch.
Interior offensive line
Potential targets: John Michael Schmitz* (Minnesota), Luke Wypler* (Ohio State), Joe Tippmann* (Wisconsin), Chandler Zavala* (N.C. State)
Michael Onwenu is in the final-year of his rookie contract and David Andrews will be 31-years old next season. The Patriots might be looking to bolster their interior O-line depth.
Potential targets: Isaiah McGuire (Missouri), Zach Harrison (Ohio State) Derick Hall (Auburn), Isaiah Foskey* (Notre Dame), Byron Young* (Tennessee), Tuli Tuipulotu* (USC)
Missouri’s Isaiah McGuire may be the top choice here due to his sturdy frame along the edge (6-foot-4, 269 pounds and 34.5 inch arms) that flashes in the run game. Foskey is another intriguing pass rusher who can play down on the line of scrimmage or an outside linebacker.
Interior defensive line
Potential targets: Siaki Ika (Baylor), Adetomiwa Adebawore* (Northwestern), German Dexter Sr.* (Florida), Keeanu Benton* (Wisconsin)
While the edge projects as a bigger need, New England could instead look to bolster the interior of their defensive line. Ika, Dexter, and Benton are big body nose tackles up the middle while Adebawore is a freakish athlete who can play outside and inside.
Potential targets: Julius Brents (Kansas State), Tyrique Stevenson (Miami), Clark Phillips III* (Utah), D.J. Turner (Michigan)
Plenty of talented options remain at cornerback, which again would be a surprise addition. Brents and Stevenson provide good size along the outside while Phillips is a slot corner. Turner is one of the fastest overall players in this class.
Potential targets: Jartavius Martin (Illinois), Jordan Battle (Alabama), Antonio Johnson* (Texas A&M)
Martin and Battle project as strong Patriots fits coming from programs run by Saban and Bret Bielema. Both players are known for their football IQ, while Martin could be a strong deep safety option due to his explosive athletic profile. Johnson could also be on their radar as a physical presence who primarily played in the box for the Aggies.