The draft will be held in Las Vegas on the Strip in the area adjacent to Caesars Forum two years after it was initially scheduled. The 2020 NFL draft was turned into a virtual event because of COVID-19.
Here’s a pick-by-pick look at how each player New England has selected will fit.
Round 1, No. 29 overall: Cole Strange, OG, Chattanooga
My take: Strange projects to start at left guard, and if he follows in the footsteps of 2005 first-rounder Logan Mankins (32nd) or 2016 third-rounder Joe Thuney (78th), this will be a solid pick that addresses one of the team’s obvious needs (albeit one created by trading veteran guard Shaq Mason). Senior Bowl director Jim Nagy, a former New England scout, had identified Strange before the draft as an ideal Patriots fit. One question: Did the Patriots overdraft him? Strange was viewed by some draft analysts as a second- or third-round pick … which was actually what was said about Mankins back in 2005.
Starting O-line: The Patriots’ top offensive line projects as left tackle Isaiah Wynn, Strange at left guard, center David Andrews, right guard Mike Onwenu and right tackle Trent Brown. That assumes, of course, that Strange quickly adapts to the system.
Cornerback regrets? After starting cornerback J.C. Jackson departed in free agency, the Patriots had a chance to draft his replacement at No. 21 overall — Washington’s Trent McDuffie — who wasn’t projected to be available at that point by many draft analysts. But they instead followed through on a trade, moving back to No. 29 and picking up third-round (94) and fourth-round picks (121). The Chiefs took McDuffie at No. 21 with the pick acquired from the Patriots. If he goes on to become a shutdown corner, that could hurt from a New England perspective.
What’s next: The Patriots have 10 more picks in the draft, headlined by a second-rounder (54th), two third-rounders (85, 94) and two fourth-rounders (121, 127). Bill Belichick has now made an NFL-high 84 draft-day trades in his Patriots tenure, and that number figures to increase over the next two days. Belichick said at the team’s season-ticket member draft party that this is a deep draft, all the way into the later rounds.