Despite finishing the draft having made eight trades, the Patriots still ended up selecting nine players, seven of which came in rounds two through seven. Here’s a rapid reaction to each pick:
Round 2 Pick 24: Duke Dawson, CB Florida
This was a sneaky good pick for the Patriots and might be my favorite selection that they made. As I mentioned in my pre-draft analysis, Dawson is a tough, compact slot corner who excels at jamming receivers off the line. He has limitations with his vertical speed, but his ability to blanket receivers underneath is impressive, as his willingness to stick his nose in against the run. He should be an immediate impact player for the Patriots.
Round 5 Pick 6: Ja’whaun Bentley, LB Purdue
Linebacker was a position that the Patriots desperately needed an infusion of young talent at, and Bentley does just that. He’s big, he’s strong, and he loves to hit people. He will be an ideal first and second down linebacker for New England that will help reinforce the front seven against the run. The problem with Bentley is that he is slow and lacks the agility to be effective in coverage, which was one of the Patriots biggest issues last season. However, he will still bring a much-needed attitude to that unit.
Round 6 Pick 4: Christian Sam, LB Arizona State
Sam is a solid linebacker who is more what the Patriots need in terms of versatility. He has the strength to play inside or outside linebacker but is also athletic enough to likely be able to develop coverage skills. His biggest issues come with guessing and not staying disciplined with the defensive scheme. Scouts are also concerned about his football character and note how he doesn’t always like to practice. This could be an issue in a place like Foxboro where Bill Belichick has the players practice in all sorts of miserable conditions. If he can prove himself dedicated, the Patriots will find a use for his versatility.
Round 6 Pick 36: Braxton Berrios, WR Miami
Berrios is the reincarnation of Danny Amendola. He is a tough slot receiver who has great burst speed, creates space well, and isn’t afraid of contact. He is a carbon copy of Amendola and should thrive in a rhythmic offense like New England’s. Like Amendola, Berrios is also undersized, but his success will be determined by his attitude and determination. He also has great experience as a punt returner, which makes him even more valuable.
Round 7 Pick 1: Danny Etling, QB LSU
First things first: Etling is not the heir apparent to Tom Brady. He has good size and decent ability, but he does not excel in any facet of his game. He is likely being brought in as an extra camp arm, and his best shot at making the team will be by beating out Brian Hoyer for the second-string position.
Round 7 Keion Crossen, CB Western Carolina
Crossen has a lot of development needed as a cornerback, but he is a freak athlete, posting absurd numbers at his Pro Day including a 4.33-second 40-yard dash and a 10’11 broad jump. While he is initially a long shot to make the roster, he has a lot of potential and raw skill that could be honed into a good cornerback.
Round 7 Pick 32: Ryan Izzo, TE Florida State
Once again, let’s make things clear: no this is not the heir apparent to Gronk. Izzo is not much of a pass catcher; he lacks serious speed or agility and doesn’t look particularly natural catching the football. However, he is a very good blocking tight end, which is becoming less common these days. If he can develop as an offensive weapon, he could have a serious shot to make the Patriots roster.
Not everyone will be happy with the Patriots selections, but many are good players who have a shot at making an immediate impact.
Until next time – B$