Mac Jones is looking to be the Patriots QB of the future (Photo: Fansided.com)
By KEVIN McNAMARA
To say this was an unorthodox NFL Draft for the New England Patriots would be an understatement.
For the first time, Bill Belichick drafted a quarterback in the first round. The last? Drew Bledsoe, 28 years ago.
For the first time ever, the Patriots first four picks came from two schools – Alabama and Oklahoma.
In a rarity, Belichick traded up in a consequential round to grab a coveted player.
In another rarity, that was the only trade on the board by Trade Back Bill.
And, while no one would never admit it, it appears the Patriots actively drafted with an eye towards need as much as selecting the best football player available.
Those are just some of the observations gleaned from what appears to be a potentially bountiful Patriots draft. While much of the overall grade of this draft class will ultimately be balanced on quarterback Mac Jones’ shoulders, the potential along the defensive front seven with Christian Barmore, Ronnie Perkins and Cameron McGrone is large. So is the potential of running back Rhamondre Stevenson, a wrecking ball type who will be the largest back the Pats have employed since LeGarrette Blount.
Here is a look at the top four picks from the Pats’ draft crop:
- Mac Jones, QB, Alabama, 6-3, 217, 22 years old
Jones was reportedly a potential pick by the 49’ers with the third overall pick but Kyle Shanahan opted for Trey Lance. He also shot down any connection with Jones, saying “I think I was in Mexico the day we made the trade (up to #3) and within hours, there’s at least two people who are out there speculating that their opinions are they think we’re taking Mac Jones. Ever since then, I’ve kind of just watched every single person assume that that was accurate and that those weren’t opinions, those were facts. We didn’t feel that way from the beginning.”
Okay, so Jones was never in the mix at the third pick but when Carolina and Detroit opted to stick with young QB’s Sam Darnold and Drew Lock and pick cornerbacks, Jones was falling towards the Patriots’ 15th slot in the first round. Belichick happily grabbed him, and instantly the Patriots own a quarterback controversy.
The coach instantly tried to put a damper on such on issue when he said the following late Thursday: “It’s obviously going to take a lot of time. We’ll see how it goes. Cam (Newton)’s our quarterback. Whatever position, whatever time Jarrett (Stidham) or Mac (Jones) are ready to challenge and compete, then we’ll see how that goes. But right now, Mac, he’s just got a lot of learning in front of him.”
2. Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama, 6-4, 310, 22 in July.
This massive lineman was regarded as one of the nation’s best run stopper/pass rushers and when he somehow fell to pick 38, Belichick traded up to nab the Philadelphia native. He was an consensus All-American and the Defensive MVP of the National Championship romp over Ohio State after recording five tackles, two for a loss, plus a sack. This was a position of need for the Pats, even after spending big-money on free-agent signing Davon Godchaux and adding veteran Henry Anderson.
That the first defensive lineman off the board lasted until the sixth pick of the second round was too appetizing an entrée for the Patriots to pass on.
3. Ronnie Perkins, DE, Oklahoma, 6-3, 253
The Pats stayed with the main off-season theme of upgrading their defensive front seven with the 96th overall pick. Perkins earned this assessment from Belichick, “Ronnie is a disruptive player. Another guy with the ability to be disruptive on defense and has a physical playing style.”
The mixing and matching the Pats can do up front now is certainly intriguing. Barmore and Godchaux can play as 3-4 DT’s, Barmore, Lawrence Guy and Henry Anderson can be 4-3 DT’s, Lawrence Guy, Montravius Adams and Deatrich Wise are 3-4 DE’s, Matthew Judon and Josh Uche are 4-3 LB’s and rookie Perkins, Kyle Van Noy, and Chase Winovich are 3-4 linebackers who can rush the passer.
4. Rhamondre Stevenson, RB, Oklahoma, 6-0, 231
The Patriots could certainly use an addition to the running back corps, especially after watching Sony Michel’s production dip. This bruising back averaged 7.2 yards per carry in two seasons with the Sooners. He and Damien Harris may well be the future at running back and would continue the Alabama-Oklahoma theme with the Pats.
“Kind of unusual to go back-to-back from Alabama and Oklahoma, but that’s just the way it worked out,” Belichick said of his first four picks. “As always, really appreciate the cooperation from Coach (Nick) Saban and the University of Alabama staff and the same thing at Oklahoma with Coach (Lincoln) Riley and his outstanding staff as well.”
5. Cameron McGrone, LB. Michigan, 6-1, 234, 20 years old
6. Joshua Bledsoe, S, Missouri, 5-11, 204
6. William Sherman, OT, Colorado, 6-3, 304
7. Trey Nixon, WR, Central Florida, 6-0, 187