Tom Brady’s departure from New England left a Hall-of-Fame-sized hole in Bill Belichick’s offense. With their pick of every quarterback prospect not named Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa, or Justin Herbert, the Patriots decided to punt on the quarterback position in this year’s NFL Draft.
For now, New England appears content to move ahead with Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer leading the depth chart. The Patriots added undrafted rookie free agents J’Mar Smith and Brian Lewerke over the weekend.
At Louisiana Tech, Smith was awarded the 2019 Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year award. Lewerke was a Michigan State team captain last season.
Many expected the Patriots to pull the trigger on Jordan Love when the Utah State QB fell towards the latter end of the first round. New England could have taken love with the 23rd overall pick, but instead chose to trade the pick to the Chargers in exchange for Los Angeles’ second- and third-round picks.
The trade provided great value for New England but also resulted in the team missing out on a top prospect at a position of great need.
“If we feel like we find the right situation, we’ll certainly draft them,” Belichick said of quarterback prospects. “We’ve drafted them in multiple years, multiple points in the draft. Didn’t work out the last three days. That wasn’t by design. We just tried to do the best we could with what we had this weekend.”
New England’s Draft Heavy on Defense, Tight Ends
After pulling off a first-round trade many consider them to be the winner of, the Patriots went to work with five picks over rounds two and three.
With their opening selection of the draft, New England opted for a big unknown in the form of safety Kyle Dugger from Lenoir-Rhyne. Although outstandingly athletic, Dugger is unproven against top-level competition.
The Patriots filled out the remainder of their Day 2 picks by taking a pair of edge players and a pair of tight ends.
Michigan’s Josh Uche led that group as the No. 60 overall pick. Uche has the ability to win as a pass rusher or off-the-ball linebacker, making him a perfect fit in New England. Alabama’s Anfernee Jennings, another edge player, had lesser success as a pass rusher than Uche last season.
The Patriots then took tight ends Devin Asiasi (UCLA) and Dalton Keene (Virginia Tech) in the third round.
Asiasi figures to be a solid blocking tight end with some limited ability in the passing game but isn’t likely to hold up to the standards of the modern-day player at the position. Keene showed more tackle-breaking ability and athleticism but didn’t have much production in college.
Pats Remain a Contender In AFC
At the moment, the AFC appears to be a two-team race between the defending champion Chiefs and Ravens. By failing to draft a quarterback, New England didn’t do much to close the gap on those two favorites.
However, the Patriots aren’t at the bottom of the barrel. Belichick is still the best coach in football, and that’s enough to give New England the third-best odds to win the AFC at +1000.
Yes, that’s a far cry from the +300 odds of Kansas City and the +330 odds of Baltimore, but the Pats are still ahead of the likes of Indianapolis (+1100), Pittsburgh (+1200), and Buffalo (+1300) when it comes to winning the AFC.
Yet the Super Bowl is a different story, as a stacked NFC dominates a top-heavy AFC when it comes to the number of teams with top-10 odds to win it all.
The Chiefs (+650) and Ravens (+700) lead the way, but seven NFC squads separate the top two teams from the Patriots, who own odds of +2300 to take home the Lombardi Trophy this year.