Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 05-02 and AFC East Notes after the finish of the 2021 NFL Draft, there are still UDFA still to sign and the roster will remain in flux for a few more days.
Tremendous job done (as always) by Rich Eisen, Charles Davis, Daniel Jeremiah, and Peter Schrager on the NFL Network talking non-stop for three days about each of the prospects drafted.
We’ll break down each of the Patriots’ draft picks and take a look at how they’ll fit into the system and how we think they’ll be best utilized.
Have you checked out our team news feature for all 32 teams yet? It is a great resource to keep up with what is going on all across the NFL.
Quick Hitters For the Pats, and the NFL:
Mac Jones: Asked about joining the Patriots, Jones had this to say: “This is what I wanted all along, and I can’t wait to play for really the greatest franchise in NFL history. It’s going to be a lot of fun, and we’re looking forward to it.”
Sounds like a Patriot already.
Christian Barmore: Barmore scored high marks in his initial comments as well, stating that his favorite team growing up was the Patriots, saying this: “My favorite college team was Alabama, so I love dominance. It’s like the same program, just in the NFL. I love winners.”
Salary Cap Questions? Ask Miguel: There is no one with more knowledge when it comes to NE’s salary cap than our old buddy Miguel Benzan aka @Patscap. If you’re going anywhere else for salary cap information, you’re doing yourself a disservice.
4th & 2 Podcast – If you haven’t checked out our PatsFans.com podcast, “Patriots 4th & 2” in a bit, please check it out. Russ, Derek, and I are recording a post-draft podcast today.
Russ Francis/ Chuck Fairbanks: The former Patriot tight end and head coach both should be in the Patriots team Hall of Fame…this will be on our Sunday posts until it happens.
Belichick Takes Much of the Pressure Off of Mac Jones:
Bill Belichick spoke to the media immediately after Round 1, and addressed the topic that was on everyone’s mind in regards to the selection of Mac Jones and the immediate aftermath when the talk all began on if he’d be the starter on Week 1.
Belichick attempted to put all of that talk to rest when he said plainly, “ Cam [Newton]’s our quarterback. Whatever position, whatever time Jarrett [Stidham] or Mac [Jones] are ready to challenge and compete, then we’ll see how that goes. But right now, Mac, he’s just got a lot of learning in front of him.
“I know he’s very anxious to get going on it and get started and so we’ll start trying to give him material to work on and be ready for the rookie mini-camp in the second week of May, and then on to the rookie development program and so forth. So should be a good opportunity for him to be able to Mac there, certainly better than what we had last year.”
What he was saying, and it is has been widely ignored that Mac has a long, long way to go, he has to learn the offense and the personnel and he isn’t even going to acknowledge talk about Jones starting now…will it make any difference?
Breaking Down the 2021 Patriots Draft:
The Patriots didn’t make any draft day deals on Day 1 or Day 3 with the only trade made on Day 2 when they moved up to #38 to take Christian Barmore in a deal with Cincinnati for #46 and two 4th round picks.
At first glance it was a good haul for the team, Charlie Casserly of NFL Network believes that the Patriots had the best offseason of any team in the league. But the proof is in the pudding and we won’t know about this class until we see them on the field. But, as to filling needs, like free agency, it seems very positive. This team is (on paper) light years better than the team that limped off Gillette Stadium in December at 7-9. Now they have to put the work in.
Here are the Patriots draft picks and a brief bio of each is written below.
1st Round, Pick #15 Mac Jones, QB, Alabama: It is rare that a player that has been rumored to the Patriots since the end of the college football season actually ends up with the team but he did indeed.
Jones was one of five top QBs taken in the first 15 selections. Trey Lawrence, Zach Wilson, and Trey Lance were taken with the first three picks. The Bears traded up and took Justin Fields with the 11th pick. But according to a couple of media outlets in Boston, Bill Belichick had several reservations about Fields and everything fell in place for the Patriots to take Jones without having to move up.
We did a draft profile on Jones three months ago but in a nutshell, he’s a clutch performer who sees the field extremely well and is extremely accurate with the ball. While Jones isn’t as athletic as the new breed of QBs is, he can slide and buy time in the pocket and while he doesn’t possess a cannon for an arm, he can make throws to all areas of the field.
He needs to learn the position and his teammates and there is absolutely no need to rush him into starting. While starting isn’t out of the realm of possibility, Newton is the starter and he’ll have to outperform him during the offseason workouts and training camp.
2nd Round, Pick #38 Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama: The Patriots traded up eight spots to select another player from the Nick Saban, Alabama pipeline. Barmore was one of, if not the top defensive linemen in the draft and was one of the highest-rated players available when Round 2 began.
Barmore tended to run hot and cold with the Tide but was outstanding down the stretch in 2020. Playing about 50 percent of the snaps, he put up 37 tackles, with 9.5 tackles for loss, 8 sacks, with three forced fumbles, and three passes defensed.
He is extremely versatile and has played all over the line being a 1-technique, 3-technique, and 5-technique. He’s very quick off the line and is good at penetrating and creating interior pressure on the QB.
“He’s played a number of different positions in Coach Saban’s defense and has worked pretty much across the front from 5-technique to the nose,” Belichick said. “He’s been in a great program, has been very well-coached, and look forward to working with him.”
With the Patriots retooling their front seven, they’ve invested in run stuffers with bringing back Lawrence Guy and signing Henry Anderson, and Devin Godchaux. Barmore is an excellent run stuffer but should see subpackage snaps as an interior pass rusher at the 3-technique. He still has plenty of development ahead of him.
3rd Round, Pick #96 Ronnie Perkins, Edge, Oklahoma: Perkins is another player who was a bit of a steal at #96. PFF had him listed as the #43 best player available. While possessing an excellent burst off the line and an unrelenting motor, Perkins doesn’t have that ability to bend around the edge that elite pass rushers do.
He did a nice job of sniffing out the run and setting the edge. PFF said that Perkins finished 2020 as the only edge rusher in the FBS with 90.0-plus grades in run defense and as a pass-rusher. He had 10.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks at 6’3, 253.
Will he be a DE or OLB in the Patriots system? “Ronnie’s a versatile player, he’s played on both ends of the line, both left end, and right end, strong side, weak side, he’s also reduced down and played some three-technique,” Belichick said.
His toughness, his effort, his instinctiveness… he’s a versatile player that is productive in the running game, he’s been productive in the passing game, he is instinctive on plays like screens and reverses and things like that, he has a pretty good just nose for the ball and he’s a tough player, he’s tough and he’s physical, he has a good playing style.”
4th Round, Pick #120, Rhamondre Stevenson, RB, Oklahoma: Stevenson at 6’0, 231 is the largest running back that the Patriots have drafted under Bill Belichick, so they have gone against type a little bit with this pick.
Stevenson has very little wear on his tires as he played in just six games in 2020 (due to a drug suspension in 2019) but had 101 carries for 665 yards and seven touchdowns and added 18 receptions for 211 yards. He also is a core special teams player.
NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein described Stevenson in his draft bio as, a wrecking ball of a runner who tends to be all fight and no flight between the hash marks. Stevenson’s burly, thick frame and punishing demeanor clearly takes a toll on defenses as the game rolls on.
However, as we all know, the Patriots tend to “red-shirt” their RB prospects, especially if they need to work on their pass protection, how long will it be before we begin hearing about him being “a wasted pick” if he’s inactive at the beginning of the season.
5th Round, Pick #177, Cameron McGrone, LB, Michigan: An interesting case, McGrone won’t turn 21 until next month. An inside or MIKE linebacker, McGrone received a 2nd round grade in some circles.
He had an outstanding 2019 but played last year with a cast on his hand. At 6’1, 236, he’s right around that 240-pound range the Patriots like in their inside linebackers. He’s got very good speed and quickness and was a playmaker going sideline to sideline. Can cover RBs but TEs may be an issue.
6th Round, Pick #188, Joshuah Bledsoe, S, Missouri: Bledsoe was a QB until getting to Missouri and then switched to safety. Bledsoe played safety and the slot and led the team in passes defensed the past two years.
He’s tough, physical, and isn’t afraid to get into the running game. But he’s tight and has trouble sticking with receivers in the slot.
6th Round, Pick #197, William Sherman, T, Colorado: Sherman is a bit short for a tackle at 6’3, 304, and could find his way to playing guard or as a swing tackle should the situation call for it.
He’s versatile and played right tackle, left tackle, and guard. He plays with a mean streak and is good in the running game but needs better hand placement and usage at the next level.
7th Round, Pick #242, Tre Nixon, WR, UCF: With their final pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Patriots selected a receiver. Nixon was a red-shirt senior who missed all but 4 games due to a shoulder injury. In the four games, he did play, he caught 19 passes for 260 and two TDs. In 2019, he was second on UCF with 49 catches for 830 yards and seven TDs.
He measures 6’0, 185 pounds, and possesses good measurables running a 4.44 in the 40-yard dash and 6.81 in the 3-Cone Drill. He has good quickness and will be in the mix trying to play out of the slot.
Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:
Bills Add Two Key DL and an OT in the Draft:
The Buffalo Bills added the talented by still developing pass rusher Gregory Rousseau in Round 1 filling a particular need and added DE Carlos Basham from Wake Forest in Round 2. With the Bills trying to unseat the Chiefs in the AFC, they know (and saw first-hand) how pressure can slow down that potent Chiefs offense. And their first two picks, they have definitely addressed that need.
In Round 3, the Bills drafted massive offensive tackle Spencer Brown from Northern Iowa who tips the scales at 6’8, 315 pounds and is very athletic for his size. He’s projected to be Buffalo’s swing tackle in 2021.
Miami Has A Very Productive Draft:
The Miami Dolphins found their QB last year, bringing in Tua Tagovailoa from Alabama in the draft, and this year they are surrounding him with talent on both sides of the ball.
With the 6th pick, Miami drafted another Alabama player, WR Jaylen Waddle, who was the Tide’s #1 WR until he was injured last year. At #18, they brought in Jaelen Phillips from the “U” across town, the extremely talented pass rusher is a bit of a gamble as he’s had numerous concussion issues, but if he can stay healthy is a tremendous addition.
In Round 2 at #36, they picked up safety Jevon Holland from Oregon, at #42 they selected Liam Eichenberger the tackle from Notre Dame, and in Round 3 at #81, they brought in Hunter Long, the TE from BC.
Jets Doing Makeover For Robert Saleh:
The New York Jets are completing their makeover with the new regime. After trading Sam Donald who they drafted #3 just a few years ago, began the draft by taking BYU’s Zach Wilson with the #2 pick. They have to hit on this pick or the regime won’t be long for the world.
They then moved up to #14 to select Alijah Vera-Tucker, G, USC to protect Wilson, something they never did with Darnold. Vera-Tucker is an excellent pass blocker and should step right into a starting role. In Round 2, No. 34 overall, they selected Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss. A smaller (5’9) playmaker, Moore is a fun player to watch with the ball in his hands out of the slot.
“Yeah, I mean, again, Ronnie’s a versatile player, he’s played on both ends of the line, both left end, and right end, strong side, weak side, he’s also reduced down and played some three-technique. He’s dropped on occasion, not very much, most of the time he’s in the rush, but not always, but most of the time he is. So there are times when he lines up on the edge, on the tight end, on a tackle, there are times when he lines up in the guard tackle gap. So, if you watch him play, you get a number of opportunities to evaluate his playing strengths, especially against bigger people. His toughness, his effort, his instinctiveness, he’s again, a versatile player that is productive in the running game, he’s been productive in the passing game, he again is instinctive on plays like screens and reverses and things like that, he has a pretty good just nose for the ball and he’s a tough player, he’s tough and he’s physical, he has a good playing style. So those are some of the things that again — again he played in a good, obviously a very good team, a good program, a high level of competition, and did well. So those are some of the things with him..”
Bill Belichick’s comments about Day 2 of the draft and his feelings about Oklahoma Edge Player Ronnie Perkins
“So, how was your week?”
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Posted Under: 2021 Patriots Draft
Tags: Bill Belichick Buffalo Bills Cam Newton Cameron McGrone Christian Barmore Joshuah Bledsoe Mac Jones Miami Dolphins New England Patriots New York Jets NFL Patriots Patriots edge rushers Rhamondre Stevenson Ronnie Perkins Tre Nixon William Sherman