Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots are preparing for life after Tom Brady. That must mean they planned on selecting a quarterback fairly high in the 2020 NFL Draft, right? To quote the great Lee Corso, “Not so fast”. One thing is apparent after the 2020 NFL Draft: The Patriots must really like quarterback Jarrett Stidham. Let’s break out the red marker and assign draft grades for the Patriots’ 2020 Draft class.
Over the last 20 years, the New England Patriots have been the most successful dynasty in NFL history. During that period of time, the Patriots won six Super Bowl championships and won the AFC East a mind-blowing 17 times. One constant during that period of dominance was Brady. Well, he is now a Tampa Bay Buccaneer, and he even convinced tight end Rob Gronkowski to come out of retirement to join him.
Even with Brady in 2019, the Patriots were a shell of the team we’d grown to expect. The wide receivers looked slow and couldn’t get open and the tight end position was an utter disaster. The defense was very good, and at times it was elite, but the unit took a blow this offseason when they lost Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, and Danny Shelton to free agency. Luckily, the team was able to iron out an extension with Pro Bowl safety Devin McCourty.
Let’s take a look at how the Patriots’ 2020 draft class grades out.
Who did the New England Patriots draft?
- Round 2, No. 37 overall: Kyle Dugger, S, Lenoir-Rhyne
- Round 2, No. 60 overall: Josh Uche, OLB, Michigan
- Round 3, No. 87 overall: Anfernee Jennings, OLB, Alabama
- Round 3, No. 91 overall: Devin Asiasi, TE, UCLA
- Round 3, No. 101 overall: Dalton Keene, TE, Virginia Tech
- Round 5, No. 159 overall: Justin Rohrwasser, K, Marshall
- Round 6, No. 182 overall: Michael Onwenu, OL, Michigan
- Round 6, No. 195 overall: Justin Herron, OT, Wake Forest
- Round 6, No. 204 overall: Cassh Maluia, LB, Wyoming
- Round 7, No. 230 overall: Dustin Woodard, OL, Memphis
Best Player: Josh Uche
Uche is a tremendous pass-rushing specialist, who can do a lot of things required in the New England defensive scheme. His burst and ability to bend are exceptional. In the Patriots’ defense, he will replace Van Noy, so it is safe to assume immediate production for Uche. I suspect Uche will flirt with double-digit sacks on a consistent basis at the next level.
Best Value: Michael Onwenu
Another Michigan Wolverine gets added to the Patriots’ roster and this time it is the mammoth offensive guard Michael Onwenu. Onwenu doesn’t possess the best movement skills, but he is absolutely rock solid in pass protection, consistently winning with power and length. He needs some development, but I see a future starting right guard in Onwenu.
Biggest Reach: Justin Rohrwasser
The Patriots took a kicker that no one has ever heard of in the fifth round, when the likes of Boise State edge rusher Curtis Weaver and Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm were still available, which is a complete head-scratcher. Despite releasing long-time kicker Stephen Gostkowski, this was way too early and there were better options available.
Biggest Sleeper: Dalton Keene
Dalton Keene is an athletic marvel who can create mismatches for the Patriots’ offense. His game needs some refinement, but there is no doubting his athleticism. He is a high character and high effort player, who provides extra value as an above-average blocker.
Draft Grade: C-
If you’re not a believer in Stidham, you will not be a fan of the Patriots’ 2020 Draft class. By the draft grade I gave the Patriots, you can tell where I stand on this. The Patriots had an opportunity to draft the talented Utah State quarterback Jordan Love early and had multiple opportunities to select Fromm, who would have been a great fit.
Outside the selection of Uche and Onwenu, the Patriots’ draft class was filled with reaches. First, Kyle Dugger is a good prospect and I see them developing him into an eventual replacement for Patrick Chung, but why not get Stidham a receiver here? Dugger being the second safety selected seems a bit high.
Tight end magic in New England all over again?
There is no doubt that tight end was a priority, and it looks like they are trying to create the magic they once had with Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, but they drafted the wrong tight ends. UCLA’s Devin Asiasi was the second tight end drafted, while Virginia Tech’s Dalton Keene was the fourth selected. Both picks were reaches in my opinion.
Again, where are the wide receivers? During the playoffs last season, the Patriots’ offense was hampered by their receivers’ inability to create separation, and New England didn’t do one thing to improve the unit this offseason outside of signing Marqise Lee.
It is hard to doubt the greatest coach in NFL history, but losing Brady and bringing in a lackluster 2020 NFL Draft class gives me reason to believe that the Patriots dynasty has come to an end.