2019 draft retrospective and notes on 2020

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Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal
Let's dig into the postmortem so that we can turn our sights to a successful 2020.

  1. N'keal Harry
  2. Joejuan Williams
  3. Chase Winovich
  4. Damien Harris
  5. Yodny Cajuste
  6. Hjalte Froholdt
  7. Jarrett Stidham
  8. Byron Cowart
  9. Jake Bailey
  10. Ken Webster
Meet the Patriots 2019 draft class off the field

I'll offer general thoughts in the first post, then update each reserved entry below to discuss the players one by one. Overall, I'm extremely pleased with the players we added to the roster, so I'll limit the discussion to what we did, rather than what we didn't (i.e., draft/trade for a TE or premium DT). Other threads will certainly cover that topic, probably more thoroughly than I could.

It's no secret that we were thin at receiver going into the 2019 draft. We've debated the merits of a 1st round receiver ad nauseum, with multiple smart posters on each side of the discussion. I was convinced that WR was very much in play, specifically a player who could take snaps as a big slot as well as at X. Look at the top receivers by yards for the last two years, and you'll see that other than exceptional route runners or speed guys, most of the top results are big-bodied players who threaten middle of the field, the seam, and can dominate on jump balls in the red zone. Harry fits that mold, although I'll break down why I thought he would be the specific choice when I get to his post. I didn't think he'd be available, but I was ecstatic that the board turned out the way that it did!





My thoughts on Williams are well documented: 2019 draft retrospective and notes on 2020

I have been interested in a safety for a few years now, since I think it's essential to start training someone for Devin McCourty's role. I liked Justin Reid last year, who had a fantastic rookie season for Houston, but we eschewed the safety position again in 2019. Maybe. I'm wondering if Ken Webster can make the same transition that Devin did. Webster has good tackling skills and excellent explosive traits.

Keep this in mind for next year: late in the 7th, the Patriots often take a shot at a corner with exceptional athletic traits, or character issues:

Darryl Roberts
Keion Crossen
Ken Webster
Alfonzo Dennard

New England Patriots All-Time Draft History | Pro-Football-Reference.com

An OL double dip seemed more likely to me than a TE double dip, although I wasn't opposed to either. In fact, I would have been happy with Warring/Wesco, or Oliver/Sample, etc. With the uncertainty surrounding Wynn, Cannon, Thuney, a swing tackle, and so on, adding a tackle and C/G seemed prudent to many of us. I wasn't some prescient sage standing against the tide of public opinion on this one, but it's still gratifying to know that we were on the right track. I'm quite pleased with the players we added to the roster; I'll break them down individually in their respective posts.

Prior to the draft, I mentioned several times that I didn't see a spot on the depth chart for a DT/DE relative to where we were drafting. My assumption was that the top players would all go much higher in the first round than anticipated and that we would be out of options along the DL at 32 for a day 1 starter. Of course I would have loved to draft Ferrell or Lawrence, but we had no shot. Realistically, we could have traded up for Jerry Tillery or Montez Sweat, or taken Trysten Hill or Zach Allen with one of our second round picks, but that's about it.

Winovich had probably the best combination of traits, production, athleticism, character, and value of the remaining players. I was on record saying I kept coming back to him as a dark horse at 32, simply due to the scarcity of top EDGE players by that point in the draft, so I was very happy with drafting him at 77. In a similar way, I had a suspicion that after signing Pennell, we were more likely to look for a pass rusher than another fatty (though I wanted Big Dex). Byron Cowart in the 5th makes a lot of sense after missing out on some of the top players. He's strong against the run and can play inside/outside. He's a 3- to 7-tech player for the Patriots, although classic 5-tech might be his best position. Very excited about his development!

Where I excelled

Overall, this year I had a good finger on the pulse of what the Patriots were looking for -- not only in a macro sense, but also specific players. I can't recall when I've ever had a higher hit rate on exact names and positions. Additionally, when I look at the players drafted or signed post-draft by the Lions, Dolphins, Texans, and Titans (all teams with front office or coaching ties), I see that almost every player on my final big board / shortlist is accounted for. That's encouraging to me. The Patriots will still surprise us all with how they go about trading and drafting, but I do feel that I've cracked the code in terms of the type of player they want to target.

What I missed

After Bolden re-signed, running back seemed like less of a need. I thought we may try to stash Bryce Love or Rodney Anderson for next year or pick up a power back in UDFA. I love the Harris pick, however. For the last two years I've thought he was the most consistent Alabama running back. He's consistent, tough, disciplined; great vision, strong pass protection, soft hands. This is one of the few picks that surprised me, not because of the player (Harris definitely made my PTP shortlist), but because of the relatively early investment.

I did not expect a top 100 running back, although perhaps it should have been obvious. I should have listened to the excellent logic that @Hammer of Thor pointed out here: What Pick Would Surprise You But...

I didn't want a QB, although I understood the wisdom of maintaining the pipeline of QBs in training. I specifically had Stidham on a list of QBs I didn't like. But rather than assume I know more than the Patriots braintrust, I'll use this as an opportunity to try to learn what they look for in the quarterback position at the college level. Neither Etling nor Stidham seemed like PTP to me. Look for more discussion in the Stidham post, since there are more positives than I thought at first.

Bailey made me chuckle at first, but as more astute minds have pointed out, securing an inexpensive specialist for 4 years vs paying far more for Allen for only a single year seems like good business. If Bailey can win a puting job or even threaten for a kicking job, then this is a slam dunk.

2020 prognosis

We should compete for a Super Bowl again this year. Even if Brady retires after this season instead of playing until he's 45 (I think he will play), we're set up well for the future with a strong core of young players and 13 more picks next year. We'll likely look to retool the TE corps in 2020, and I wouldn't rule out adding more receivers, since only Harry is signed for more than 1 - 2 years, but we have a great mix of youth and experience at numerous positions. The future looks bright! :cool:

@manxman2601 @BobDigital @BaconGrundleCandy @sircole @everlong @patchick @Snooky97 @long distance @captain stone @mgteich @Clonamery @DaBruinz @ctpatsfan77 @mrscruff @cstjohn17 @oceansizer @Patriot Missile

Apparently I can't @ any more people, so I apologize if I left your name off; I just started to list names I've read posting in the draft forum regularly, and I skipped quite a few worthy participants. I'd welcome your thoughts as we gear up for next year!
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Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal
Reserved for N'keal Harry


“He’s a strong guy. He’s hard to tackle. He actually has a little bit of ability to just make people miss. It’s one of the things that he’s been productive doing. You get the ball in his hands and he’s been able to make some yards. We’ll see if that translates over to us here when we get him.”

We have our own JuJu Smith-Schuster now. I've had a pet theory for a while that Belichick regrets not having a chance to draft him. Recall, for example, that Belichick complimented JuJu for the way he played the game. I've kept a lookout for similar receivers, and I came to the conclusion that consistent college production really mattered. It turns out that numerous analytics sites have already beaten me to the punch. From there I looked through the 2019 prospects with an eye toward production, size, physicality, YAC, contested catches, explosive plays, high football IQ, work ethic, and early dominance. Harry is outstanding in all categories.

As other people have mentioned on the board after the Harry pick, he earned top marks in market share / college dominator and did it all at an early age. All the analytic models liked his production.

N'Keal Harry - Player Profile Advanced Stats, Metrics & Analytics

Some might be surprised that Harry didn't run the fastest 3-cone or 40, but he showed phenomenal explosive traits at nearly 230 pounds. That's important for receivers over 6'2:

Harry ran a more diverse route tree than Metcalf or Brown, two receivers mocked in a similar range. He has inside/outside versatility, although my guess is that he'll run a lot of similar routes to Hogan, at least at first, in addition to the plays Patterson had last -- emphasize his open field running and ability to win contested catches. The ability to play X, Z, slot, or even H-back, really turns him into a fantastic chess piece who should see the field early and often.

For all of these reasons, I was all-in on Harry as our WR target leading up to the draft, although I thought he would be gone by 32 and so I had turned my attention to some other receivers. I had a sneaking suspicion Baltimore might grab him (they did go WR, but opted for a speed merchant instead of a mini-Gronk at WR). The need, player, and value all lined up and made sense. I'm excited to see how Harry develops over the next 5 years! He has a real shot at rookie of the year if he gets on the same page with Brady.

Why Patriots’ N’Keal Harry is *my* favorite wide receiver in this draft

Pro Football Focus on Twitter

Per PFF: When targeted in the intermediate level of the field (10-19 yards), no draft-class WR had a higher overall grade when targeted.

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Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal
Reserved for Chase Winovich

Earlier in the season I was unsure of how to rate Winovich, but the more I watched him, the more I came around to thinking of him as a solid 2nd round type of player. In fact, the only reason I was slightly uncomfortable with giving him a 1st round grade (which I expect means a starter his rookie season and potential upside) is because he's already 24. That may not sound old, but consider that many of the offensive tackles he's facing in college are 18 - 21; extra years of strength, developmental, etc can make a big difference. Nonetheless, I wouldn't have been shocked if he'd come off the board at 32 or 56, as you can see in the posts I link below, but I much prefer the value of adding him at 77.

What Pick Would Surprise You But...

NFL Draft: Day 2

Winovich is tough, smart, high-energy player in addition to an exceptional athlete. He studied ballet and jiu-jitsu to improve his body control and agility, and that shows up on the field. As I mentioned in my previous posts, he had one of the top pressure rates in the draft class at 21.7% as well as a run stop rate of 11.8% -- again one of the highest in class. His 53 total QB hits were right in line with a few of the first rounders. He has the size and play strength to remain at DE, but also the speed and agility to play LB. With a TE and LB background, he's the perfect fit to continue the Vrabel / Ninkovich role.

Get him into a pro S&C program, and I think he can improve his jumps and bench. Still, he grades out as an elite athlete with an overall composite of 86 percentile compared with DEs (and that goes up to 92% when compared with LBs). There's a lot to like about a mature player who can come in and give quality snaps right away.

He had three straight years of solid production, with excellent TFL (the more predictive stat than college sacks) over the last two years. I expect him to give the Patriots quite a few quality snaps right from the beginning, although I doubt he'll ever become a high volume sack master. 5 - 8 seems like to be his pro ceiling, just like in college, but I suspect that he will be a good overall player. Adrian Clayborn with rush lane integrity seems likely. Clayborn led the team in pressure percentage, and I believe Winovich can do the same, although he'll face stiff competition from Bennett.



Watch this and tell me that he's not an awesome addition to the team: Getting to know Patriots DE Chase Winovich

Or how about these classic stories? Love the fire. Patriots draft pick Chase Winovich mic'd up at Michigan is a sight to behold

When I have more time tomorrow or the next day, I'll produce some gifs and edit this post. We'll look at his hand fighting technique while pass rushing, because there's a lot to like.

Let's start off with these three plays in a row. I'm going to try to hide the gif within a spoiler tag (I don't know if that will work), so that @patchick won't complain about her computer not loading the page if the media auto-plays. ;)

EDIT: Yes! It works! I'll start adding all my GIFs this way so that it's easier to load.

Let's go through why I like Chase. He's consistently the first DL moving at the snap, which gives him a split second of advantage over his teammates. I like that he keeps his pad level low, delivers a strong, accurate strike -- flat back, elbows in -- and then uses the OT's momentum against him by pulling on his jersey and tearing past the block. This is a mini variation of a bull-snatch, but it shows a good understanding of balance and momentum. I don't care that he didn't have any impact on the play; I simply want to review technique.

Second play: Again, notice that he's a step farther upfield than anyone else on the DL. The OT doesn't use a traditional vertical set, but if this is supposed to be a jump set, he was extremely lazy with his positioning. Chase immediately takes advantage of the poor hip angle and shoots inside of the block. Easy, right?

BUT WAIT! Before Chase makes this moves, notice that he extends his inside arm to lock the tackle's shoulder in place, and only after he ensures that he can maintain space does he rip through with the outside arm. A less seasoned pass rusher may have just taken a direct path to the quarterback, leaving himself exposed to the tackle's punch and recovery to close off the inside path into the pocket. Chase is really advanced with understanding spacing, positioning, and hand fighting.

Third play: Ignore that the secondary busted the coverage and let a crosser run free. Notice how quickly Chase accelerates to the quarterback. I'm not really concerned about how these plays turned out, but only about how well Chase succeeded within his scheme. He does everything that's asked of him, and he excels at getting upfield.

Good and bad in one play. My biggest complaint with Chase right now is that he sometimes lets himself get caught in no man's land. I don't know who is responsible for the misdirection in this defensive playcall, but clearly someone screwed up. Too often I saw Chase bite on a fake and then try to get back into the play. So where's the good? Watch him chase 70+ yards to try to make a tackle. I love this competitive spirit!

I like how strong this club is here to the OT's shoulder, but what really impresses me is his quickness to redirect when he sees that the quarterback is flushed out of the pocket. I don't think we have another edge defender on the roster right now with that kind of quickness, other than maybe Rivers (I still have hope he can come back strong from injury now that he'll be two years removed from the ACL).

More to come when I have time. So many other plays to break down! :)


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Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal
Reserved for Damien Harris

I undersold Harris here, but at least I nailed him as a PTP. Very pleased with this pick. Lots to dig into with film and background, but we'll start off with this post.

2019 post-season games (UPDATE: Senior Bowl week)

As a bellcow, you may be able to improve on Harris, but as a super sub who has the skillset as a runner, pass protector, and pass catcher to back up multiple players (Michel, White, Burkhead), I think he's dynamite. Strong, rugged, no-nonsense player with good playing strength and exceptional vision. Really happy with this pick, even though it surprised me with how early the Patriots took a running back.

The first detail I want to show with Harris is his willingness to look for work in pass pro. He could have stayed in the pocket and waited for the play to come to him, but instead he identifies a free rusher and picks him up, ensuring that the defender won't affect the play. I love this.

Not the most dynamic in space, but he'll catch cleanly and has enough shiftiness to get the first down even if he doesn't complete evade the tackle.

Harris isn't going to be confused with Barkley or Kamara, but he is an attitude runner who will fight for every yard. Love his attitude and tenacity. He's an ideal closer, like a more fluid version of BJGE.

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Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal
Reserved for Yodny Cajuste

I'll update soon with real thoughts, but for now this is pretty fantastic.

Biggest plus for me with the West Virginia players? They spent time watching the Patriots and incorporating plays and personnel/spacing philosophies from McDaniel's offense. It's easy to project Cajuste into the Patriots lineup. He has a ton of traits that we look for in left tackles -- athletically, it's clear that he's an easy mover and has some strength. Due to quad surgery, he didn't work out during the pre-draft process, but his basketball background and newness to football should give an idea of the growth potential he has, particularly under Scar.

LJ Collier was a board favorite. He ended up going in the 1st round to Seattle. Cajuste is not only able to stay with him on back to back reps, but he also demonstrates the core power to absorb his punch and anchor against further push. I like his smooth feet, even if I wish he'd get more depth on his first kick slide and keep his base lower. If I had any quibbles, it's that Cajuste is a little late/wide with his hands; he could deliver a more compact blow sooner in the rep. That said, he still does a solid job resetting hand priority when Collier first knocks aside his contact point.

More to follow . . . stay tuned. :)
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Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal
Reserved for Hjalte Froholdt

Athleticism matters for OL sometimes. Sure, less athletic players can work in the NFL -- see Orlando Brown Jr -- but look at the falloff between elite agility scores and average test results:

Hjalte Forholdt had great numbers across the board at the Combine. He should be an upgrade on Karras and may threaten for a starting spot by next year. Good Thuney insurance. He may play center in the end.


Last year:

This year:

Right in line with Lindstrom, but 100+ picks lower:

Shout out to @long distance for this excellent breakdown tape. It saves me a lot of work cutting up and posting my own GIFs. Great pick here. Hjalte will be a versatile mainstay for a while.

Another nice breakdown at PatsPulpit:

Hjalte Froholdt versus Alabama: A test of traits
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Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal
Reserved for Jarrett Stidham


“He’s a pretty productive player. The system is probably a little bit different relative to what he’s going to play in offensively here, but he’s a really smart kid. We had a number of interactions with him along the way. He’s a smart player who takes care of the football with pretty good arm strength. He’s fairly athletic, though not a running quarterback but he has decent movement skills, so I’m sure he’ll be competitive with the rest of the players that we have at the position.”

I read that Stidham met with Caserio before his Pro Day workout. Caserio confirmed it's part of the process, before adding: "[Stidham is] a smart kid, pretty mature and picks things up well. So, we’ll see how it goes. Like I said, he’s going to transition into a system that’s a little bit different in terms of play calling and some of the other things he’s going to be asked to do here. He’s an impressive kid. He’s very mature, so we’ll see how it goes.”

This breakdown by PatsPulpit is better than I can do, so please look through the article for more information. Jarrett Stidham: Learning from Alabama and Georgia

This does bode well for him:

I'll update with some gifs and additional thoughts as the weeks go by. Check back regularly. :)
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Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal
Reserved for Byron Cowart

Strong at the PoA. Primarily a DE, not a DT, but can rush at 3-tech on passing downs. Classic 5-tech type of player. Reminds me a bit of Jarvis Green. He's got some Michael Bennett to him, as well. I'm probably a lot higher on Cowart than most here (I listed him in @patchick's competition), and I wouldn't be surprised to see him take more snaps than Winovich early in the season. I expect they'll let Wino go Chase the QB, but Cowart is ready to step in on run downs.

I'm tempted to just link to entire games, since I generally like his work against blockers, but that's not very instructive. I'll try to limit myself to just a few plays over the next couple days (check back often). His tape is really fun to watch if you like power players.

First, a quick discussion of alignment (or technique). Most of the time, Cowart lines up at 5 tech. Occasionally I see him shade inside to 4 or 4i, and sometimes as wide as 7, but I never saw him rush as a wide 9 and I almost never saw him at 3. In the pros I expect him to primarily play 5 as well, but the Patriots will probably move him down to 3 for pass rush reps. Do not expect Cowart to play much DT on this team -- he's not Malcom Brown, or even Adam Butler. In fact, he's a lot more like Trey Flowers or Michael Bennett. I'm stealing this graphic from PFF since it's the first clearly labelled picture that came up in a Google search:

In this play below, Cowart is one of three down linemen. He ignores the tackle and instead watches for the pulling RG. He steps up and stones the guard, completely killing his momentum. Notice that he stays low in his stance, keeps his hands high, and plays from the ground up; his power comes from uncoiling his legs as he extends. He easily sheds the block, locates the ball carrier, and takes him down for a short gain. This isn't even close to the most impressive play I saw on film, but I like it because it's a great look at his consistent, every down type of play.

He can win with surprising quickness off the snap, too. This reminds me of a Flowers type of play, jumping inside the block when the tackle short sets in anticipation of a bull rush:

My favorite part of this play is that he doesn't push so far past the pocket that he leaves an escape. Yes, it's nice that he tries to play pattycake and finishes with a swim (sort of), but they were lazy moves that show off his lack of polish -- his hand placement is lacking precision and he doesn't use the same kind of power that he shows against the run when he's attempting to string together pass rush moves. Regardless, he has good awareness to check his rush and cross the tackle's face to get to the quarterback. The rest of the details can be improved with practice and coaching. Lots to like here.

More to come . . .
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Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal
Reserved for Jake Bailey

I'll be honest, I am not the best scout for P and K. What I do like is that Bailey can do both. He's highly athletic and showed up well in terms of net and hang time, as well as max distance (I believe he set his school record at 84 yards, although I need to fact-check). I respect the incredible game Ryan Allen had in the Super Bowl, and I'll always appreciate Ghost's place with this franchise, but it makes more financial sense to bring in a player on a rookie contract who could potentially replace either or both.

After bringing in a punter last season, and then only signing Allen to a one year extension, my guess is that Bailey's path to the 53 makes more sense at P. The more you can do, however . . .
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Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal
Reserved for Ken Webster


If healthy and back on the straight and narrow (although shoplifting to me sounds like code for "caught receiving bonuses from a booster and then covering tracks"), Webster can compete at both boundary and slot corner, as well as safety or star positions. He shares quite a few traits with the McCourty twins and could potentially see time at free safety. Good tackler, played well against top competition, and practiced against Metcalf and Brown. Should compete right away with Crossen and may knock him off the roster (sad, since Crossen was a binky last year).

I'll update later in the week with some gif breakdowns.
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Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal
Reserved for offensive UDFA

Jakobi Meyers, WR, NC State
Xavier Ubosi, WR, UAB
Ryan Davis, WR, Auburn
Andrew Beck, TE, Texas
Nick Brossette, RB, LSU
Calvin Anderson, OT, Texas
Tyree St. Louis, OL, Miami
Tyler Gauthier, C, Miami
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Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal
Reserved for defensive UDFA

Terez Hall, LB, Missouri
Malik Gant, S, Marshall
D'Angelo Ross, CB
A.J. Hantak, LS, Eastern Illinois (camp invite)

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In the Starting Line-Up
do you still have a link from the twitter account who does a composite draft score ranking?


Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract
Reserved for Damien Harris

I undersold Harris here, but at least I nailed him as a PTP. Very pleased with this pick. Lots to dig into with film and background, but we'll start off with this post.

2019 post-season games (UPDATE: Senior Bowl week)

As a bellcow, you may be able to improve on Harris, but as a super sub who has the skillset as a runner, pass protector, and pass catcher to back up multiple players (Michel, White, Burkhead), I think he's dynamite. Strong, rugged, no-nonsense player with good playing strength and exceptional vision. Really happy with this pick, even though it surprised me with how early the Patriots took a running back.

I think they are worried about Rex’s concussion issues. Harris appears that he might compliment Sony well. A little more power and still able to play in the passing game.


Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal
I'm still slowly filling in the details for player-specific posts above, but I wanted to get a start on 2020.

Curtis Weaver is a bit under the radar right now, but he's an OLB/DE hybrid who should receive first round of buzz by this time next season. Strong early candidate for binkie of the year.


In the Starting Line-Up
Harris was definitely a great pick. He is great in pass pro and can get you 5,6 yards consistently and moving the chains.