Many people are excited about the Patriots 2019 NFL Draft class, and for good reason. It is a group of highly talented, high-character players, many of whom will have a chance to make an impact from Day 1. What many people don’t realize is that the Patriots have more talent coming to their starting lineup than just the players added in the past month.
Almost everyone will remember Sony Michel’s impact on the Patriots last year. What many forget is that he was not the team’s first pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. The team’s top first-round pick was fellow Georgia Bulldog Isaiah Wynn. The offensive line standout had excelled in the SEC as an athletic pass protector and a bullish run blocker. Wynn was vying for a position on the Patriots offensive line, such as the open left tackle spot, when camp opened up last season. Unfortunately, Wynn did not get the chance to contribute to the Patriots success. He suffered a torn Achilles in the team’s preseason game against the Eagles and missed the entire 2018 season.
Wynn will return for the 2019 season. His status is currently uncertain; reports are inconclusive on whether or not he will be ready for training camp. However, Patriots coaches are optimistic about the progress that Wynn has made.
“He’s done a great job,” said Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia. “We are going to let the process go forward and as soon as he can get out there, we’ll get him out there…He’s getting better and all of that. That’s a process and it’s going really well.”
The team drafted and signed a number of offensive linemen so the pressure will not be on Wynn to return too quickly. However, when he does, the Patriots will be adding a tackle with first-round talent right into the mix.
The Patriots cornerback group is another unit adding a highly talented player to it’s starting rotation. New England drafted cornerback Duke Dawson in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Dawson played sparingly throughout the preseason due to a nagging hamstring issue. That same issue ended up with Dawson being placed on the PUP list for the first six weeks of the season. On his return, Dawson was stuck on the depth chart behind a whole host of players who had been performing well, leading him to be a healthy scratch for the rest of the season.
Despite being a healthy scratch, those who watched Dawson in practice have said that he was one of the team’s most talented and physical cornerbacks, able to challenge the likes of Julian Edelman. His work ethic supposedly turned up a few notches, and he seemed to be in a good spot to play a role as a starter. Luckily for New England, they never had to test him because of their health at the position.
Dawson will get another chance when training camp opens this summer. The Patriots will be adding not one, but two second-round cornerbacks this year, one of whom has a year of NFL experience under his belt. Dawson has a chance to jump right into a starting role as the Patriots nickel cornerback.
Wynn and Dawson both missed all of the 2019 season. While they are not technically rookies, they will be competing for a spot to play in their first NFL games. They are providing the Patriots with first and second round talent that the team did not have last season. It makes this draft class even more impressive.