The New England Patriots head into the 2020 NFL Draft in a novel situation regarding its current roster, as Tom Brady and many key defensive cogs no longer remain with the organization. Known for being very conservative with their draft choices, the Patriots just can’t afford to keep trading down and receiving middling picks. This is a draft where the Patriots need to focus on rebuilding a solid roster and reviving a sunken fan base.
Round One, Pick 23: Kenneth Murray, linebacker, University of Oklahoma
To start, I don’t believe the rumors that the Patriots are interested in trading up for a quarterback. Belichick isn’t one to take a major risk and is content with rolling out Jarrett Stidham in week one. Instead, the Patriots should hope to revive a depleted linebackers core by drafting Murray, who was Big 12 co-defensive freshman of the year. He works best in a scheme where he can run downhill and battle against blockers, which he wasn’t able to do in college. Belichick can implement him into the 3–4 scheme, hopefully turning Murray into an impact rookie in 2020.
Round Three, Pick 87: Adam Trautman, tight end, University of Dayton
Unsurprisingly, the Patriots should go with a tight end in round three. Losing Rob Gronkowski to retirement after the 2018 season decimated Brady’s weapons in 2019. Brady lost his main guy across the middle, and it hurt the offense toward the end of the season. Trautman is a very intriguing prospect and has risen up draft boards over the past few weeks. Although he comes from a small-school program, he exhibits a toughness and athletic ability that the Patriots should not pass up on.
Round Three, Pick 98: Kenny Willekes, defensive end, Michigan State University
Lawrence Guy and John Simon are a solid DE duo, but they combined for only seven sacks last season. Behind them, the depth chart rounds out with situational pass rushers Deatrich Wise Jr. and Chase Winovich, who are both still unproven. Therefore, the Patriots need to focus on the defensive side of the ball with this pick. Willekes comes from a defensive-heavy program and can contribute immediately as depth for the Patriots. He also possesses a fierce mentality that Belichick cherishes.
Round Three, Pick 100: Antonio Gandy-Golden, wide receiver, Liberty University
With Stidham becoming the captain of the offense, the Patriots should load him with weapons or give the wide receiver room a little more depth. If the Patriots go with the latter, they should draft the unproven Antonio Gandy-Golden. He will strictly be a red zone target for the Patriots because of his frame (6’4″, 222 pounds). Gandy-Golden will ease the pressure off of N’keal Harry, who looks to have a prominent role in the Patriots’ offense this season. Although scouts have little to no faith in Gandy-Golden, it isn’t the first time the Patriots have drafted an unproven prospect. Remember Tom Brady?
In the first three rounds, the Patriots have a handful of ways to go about their four picks. It’s crucial that the front office makes few mistakes and uses the picks to its advantage. This is a retooling year for the Patriots, and this draft should not be taken lightly.