The New England Patriots headed into the 2020 virtual draft beginning a new era under the reign of Bill Belichick, as Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski have fled south for the warmer weather in Tampa Bay. Their list of draft needs was relatively long, and they hoped to rebuild through this deep draft class.
Round two, Pick 37: Kyle Dugger, safety
Do not let Kyle Dugger’s Div. II small-school competition fool you: this man can play football. He has elite speed and range in the backfield and has shown absurd talent when returning punts. He serves to be a backup in his rookie season to Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung, but Dugger will blossom under the Patriots’ defense and can hopefully contribute on special teams as well.
Round two, Pick 60: Josh Uche, defensive end
When the Patriots first picked Uche, I was confused with their decision. However, Uche is the perfect pick for the Patriots. Although he is a little raw, he will definitely be a solid developmental piece for the Patriots this season and serve as a backup to Dont’a Hightower and Ja’Whaun Bentley.
Round three, Pick 87: Anfernee Jennings, outside linebacker
The Bill Belichick-Nick Saban connection continues as the Patriots take another linebacker from Alabama. Jennings doesn’t possess the elite tools to become a Hall of Famer, but is able to slide into a situational pass rusher role, which the Patriots love.
Round three, Pick 91: Devin Asiasi, tight end
It took four draft picks, but the Patriots finally selected a tight end, which was arguably one of their biggest needs heading into Friday night. Asiasi is a plausible receiving threat across the middle, but lacks in the blocking department. The Patriots are known to have tight ends that can both block and receive (aka Rob Gronkowski), so this pick is a head-scratcher.
Round three, Pick 101: Dalton Keene, tight end
This pick also turned some heads in the NFL community. Only 10 picks after they drafted Asiasi, the Patriots decided to pull the trigger on Dalton Keene, who is mainly a blocking tight end. Although that fills a need, Keene has limited receiving tools and is projected to have a restricted role in the Patriots’ offensive scheme.
Round five, Pick 159: Justin Rohrwasser, kicker
I am actually a big fan of this selection. Kicker was an underrated need for the Patriots heading into the draft, and confidence in special teams is vital for a potential playoff team.
Round six, Pick 182: Michael Onwenu, offensive guard
The Patriots needed some guard depth this offseason after losing many key reserve linemen in free agency. Onwenu will serve as depth on the offensive line.
Round six, Pick 195: Justin Herron, offensive guard
Although not an extremely athletic prospect, Herron could develop into a plausible backup role for the Patriots this season behind Marcus Cannon.
Round six, Pick 204: Cassh Maluia, inside linebacker
Maluia will be a sleeper out of this year’s draft class. He wasn’t on many big boards, but he flashed some athletic potential in college. He can develop into a valuable special teams contributor.
Round seven, Pick 16: Dustin Woodard, center
With their final pick, the Patriots take yet another linemen who has the ability to play all positions on the line. Although I don’t expect Woodard to make the final roster, he might be able to sneak in as a backup due to his versatility.