Patriots

2020 NFL Draft grades roundup for Patriots' second and third round picks

2020 NFL Draft grades roundup for Patriots' second and third round picks

The New England Patriots jumped into the 2020 NFL Draft mix Friday night by making five picks over the second and third rounds.

And, in a rare move of aggressiveness, the Patriots traded up three times, including twice in the third round to select a pair of tight ends -- Devin Asiasi of UCLA and Dalton Keene from Virginia Tech.

The Patriots addressed a few needs on Day 2. They added some much-needed youth at safety, upgraded their pass rush with two versatile linebackers and bolstered their tight end depth.

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How do experts feel about these picks? Here's a roundup of draft grades on the Patriots' second- and third-round picks.

Pick No. 37 (Round 2): Kyle Dugger, S, Lenoir-Rhyne

Chris Trapasso, CBS Sports: A
Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: A
Mike Tanier, Bleacher Report: C-
Luke Easterling, USA TODAY: B-
Eric Edholm, Yahoo! Sports: B
Walter Football: B+
Andy Benoit, Sports Illustrated: C

Pick No. 60 (Round 2): Josh Uche, LB, Michigan

Chris Trapasso, CBS Sports: A
Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: B
Mike Tanier, Bleacher Report: C+
Luke Easterling, USA TODAY: B+
Eric Edholm, Yahoo! Sports: B
Walter Football: C
Andy Benoit, Sports Illustrated: C+

Pick No. 87 (Round 3): Anfernee Jennings, LB, Alabama

Chris Trapasso, CBS Sports: C+
Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: A
Mike Tanier, Bleacher Report: C+
Eric Edholm, Yahoo! Sports: C
Walter Football: A-
Andy Benoit, Sports Illustrated: B

Pick No. 91 (Round 3): Devin Asiasi, TE, UCLA

Chris Trapasso, CBS Sports: B
Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: C
Mike Tanier, Bleacher Report: C-
Eric Edholm, Yahoo! Sports: C+
Walter Football: "Terrible"
Andy Benoit, Sports Illustrated: B+

Pick No. 101 (Round 3): Dalton Keene, TE, Virginia Tech

Chris Trapasso, CBS Sports: C+
Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: B
Mike Tanier, Bleacher Report: C
Eric Edholm, Yahoo! Sports: C
Walter Football: "Terrible"
Andy Benoit, Sports Illustrated: B

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Bill Belichick confident in Patriots' safety protocols despite opt-outs

Bill Belichick confident in Patriots' safety protocols despite opt-outs

The New England Patriots already have had eight players opt out of the 2020 NFL season, and few would blame Bill Belichick -- the oldest head coach in the league at 68 -- if he made a similar decision.

So, did concerns about COVID-19 lead Belichick to consider not coaching in 2020? It doesn't appear so.

"I feel very good about the environment that we're in," Belichick said Friday in a video conference with reporters. "I feel fine."

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Belichick also confirmed no coaches on his staff have backed out of the 2020 season.

The Patriots are in the "acclimation period" of training camp, with players going through non-padded walk-throughs outside Gillette Stadium as they ramp up for their first padded practice on Aug. 17.

According to Belichick, the players and staff in the building feel confident in their safety so far.

"I can't speak for everybody, but I think my impression is that as an organization, as a coaching staff, the support people, the players -- there's a comfort level with what we're doing and who's doing it and how we're doing it, and we're being productive," Belichick said.

"So, if concerns or problems come up, then we'll address those. But right now, I think it's a good working environment. We're getting a lot done."

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The Patriots, like every other team, have to follow rigorous safety protocols that include frequent COVID-19 tests, temperature checks and physical distancing measures. That "new normal" will take some getting used to, but Belichick believes the protocols have helped create an environment that coaches and staff feel safe in.

"The organization has taken a lot of steps to ensure everyone's safety and opportunity to do their job and do it safely and do it productively," Belichick said. 

"Certainly there's a lot of responsibility on each one of us to do things in a way that doesn't affect others negatively, that we take the proper precautions that we can and should, so that's what we're doing."

Mohamed Sanu shouts out Cam Newton in Patriots practice Instagram post

Mohamed Sanu shouts out Cam Newton in Patriots practice Instagram post

Mohamed Sanu finally doesn't have to fly across the country to work out with his new quarterback.

The New England Patriots began Phase 1 of training camp this week by hitting the practice field as a team outside Gillette Stadium.

That means Cam Newton joined his Patriots teammates in an official capacity for the first time, and Sanu seems pretty excited about having his new quarterback in the building.

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Here's the Instagram shout-out Sanu gave Newton Thursday on Instagram via a photo of the two in Patriots gear at training camp:

View this post on Instagram

Beannnn & Ace booogie wit da hoodie

A post shared by Mohamed Sanu Sr. (@mohamedsanu) on

Sanu and Newton teamed up for informal throwing sessions in Los Angeles just days after the 31-year-old quarterback signed with the Patriots in free agency and appeared to develop a strong connection.

Like Newton, Sanu has a lot to prove this season after an ankle injury plagued his 2019 campaign with New England. The 30-year-old sprained his ankle in his second game with the Patriots last season after a midseason trade from the Atlanta Falcons and caught three passes or fewer in his final six games of the season.

Sanu projects to be the Patriots' No. 2 wide receiver this season behind Julian Edelman, so if he can stay healthy, he could go a long way in helping Newton and the Patriots finding success this season despite a wave of player opt-outs.