3 Patriots thoughts with just under a month left until NFL draft

Ryan Hannable
April 01, 2019 - 11:03 am
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The Patriots have certainly been in the news this offseason, but it hasn’t exactly been because of making a huge splash in free agency and adding new players.

It’s been an offseason of losses, as a number of coaches have gone on to other teams, or stepped down before even being officially being announced in the case of Greg Schiano. Then, the team lost starters Trent Brown and Trey Flowers via free agency, and then had Rob Gronkowski retire last week.

So, with just under a month until the NFL draft, there’s still plenty of work to do.

Here are three thoughts on where things stand with the team on April 1.

1. Add a bunch of wide receivers

As it stands now on April 1, here is the current Patriots depth chart at wide receiver: Julian Edelman, Phillip Dorsett, Braxton Berrios, Maurice Harris, Bruce Ellington, Matthew Slater and Damoun Patterson. The team saw first-hand last year how important having depth at the receiver position is (needing to trade for Josh Gordon after Week 2), so it’s a little puzzling why they haven’t been more active at the position this offseason.

It would be in their best interest to add a number of veteran receivers and hope one, or a few pan out into contributors. For instance, Browns wide out Ricardo Louis may become available in the coming days. He is the type of player the team should be considering, as the free agent receivers really worth pursuing are already off the board. Also, the team has already reportedly been connected to a number of receivers via the draft, and it wouldn’t be a shock to see multiple selected, including with one of their first few picks.

2. Have a plan at tight end

With Gronkowski out of the picture, there isn’t much at all for the Patriots at tight end. Then, like wide receiver, there aren’t many reliable ones available via free agency. So whether it is a trade, or selecting one high in the draft, the team needs to make a big addition.

From this viewpoint, T.J. Hockenson should be their guy. But, he very likely will be selected well before they pick at No. 32 overall. Fortunately, the team has six picks in the top 101 so a trade to move up is certainly on the table. The Patriots should start looking to the middle of the first round for teams to potentially swing a deal with. No matter what, some plan needs to be in place as the team cannot go into the summer with just Jacob Hollister, Stephen Anderson, Ryan Izzo and Matt LaCosse. 

3. Defense will be just fine

A lot has been made with the defense losing a number of coaches, including Schiano most recently, but in the end the unit should be just fine. It has a number of veterans who will be back and have played in the system for a number of years — Dont’a Hightower, Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon, Patrick Chung, Kyle Van Noy, even Jason McCourty to an extent. Also, it isn’t like the defense has a ton of young players coming in to play major roles. By in large, this is a veteran-led unit that will be able to handle changes to the coaching staff, especially considering the scheme will be exactly the same.

Related: Bill Belichick advocated for more time with players during offseason at NFL owners meetings