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3 Patriots-related thoughts heading into 1st-round of NFL draft

Ryan Hannable
April 26, 2018 - 3:19 pm

For the first time in a few years, the NFL draft has generated quite a bit of buzz in the New England market. A lot of that has to do with the Patriots having two first-round picks and two second-round picks for the first time under Bill Belichick, as well as the intrigue of potentially drafting a quarterback.

As the first round nears, here are a few things to keep an eye on.

1. Will the Patriots use both of their first-round picks?

The Patriots have picks Nos. 23 and 31, but have only made two first-round selections twice in the Belichick era. Overall, this year’s draft class is said to be very strong in the middle rounds, so it could be a situation where Belichick sees great value in picking in the second and third rounds. They could potentially swing one of their first-round picks to get a few more picks in the middle rounds. An outside the box possibility is the team using both its first-round picks to move up in the draft, but we don’t really see that happening. If we had to guess, New England will make one selection Thursday night (at No. 23) and then trade pick No. 31 to get a few more picks for Friday night in Rounds 2 and 3.

2. Lamar Jackson

Jackson may be the most intriguing prospect in the entire draft. Over the past few weeks, Jackson has been connected to the Patriots more than any other team with Jackson confirming Wednesday he met with the organization twice — once for his pre-draft visit at Gillette Stadium and a private workout in South Florida with Josh McDaniels. The Louisville quarterback is more known for his running ability and even had more rushes than completions in college, so that is a lot different than the norm in New England, but the quarterback position is trending towards more mobile players and Belichick is always adapting to keep up to date. From this perspective, the Patriots’ interest in Jackson is real and not a smokescreen. If he’s available at No. 23, the Patriots will select him, but will not trade up, as they have other needs so cannot give away picks.

3. Offensive tackle?

Many mock drafts project the Patriots to select an offensive tackle in the first round. Of course it’s a need with Nate Solder departing for the Giants and the only options on the roster to play left tackle are LaAdrian Waddle, Tony Garcia and Matt Tobin, but is it worth using a first-round pick on? Some people have already forgot about Garcia, a 2017 third-rounder, who reportedly is feeling the best he has in his career after missing all of last season with blood clots in his lungs. It is also worth noting there isn’t much drop off from first-round tackles to second-round tackles. This is why we don’t see it being worth using a first-round pick on a tackle. There are greater needs on the team, especially at linebacker.

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