Patriots

2020 NFL Draft: Patriots fans want team to prioritize these needs

2020 NFL Draft: Patriots fans want team to prioritize these needs

There’s no shortage of opinions on which way the Patriots should go in this month’s draft.

There’s not a lot of agreement among you guys but there are a lot of opinions.

The Quarantine Question of the Day posed Wednesday offered four three-position combos to choose from as draft priorities for the Patriots.

We got 136 replies to the poll and 6,289 votes in just six hours. Thank you very much for the engagement!

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So how’d it turn out?

Leading the way was the combo of tight end, offensive line and edge player (that’s a defensive end/outside linebacker hybrid) with 42.6 percent of respondents opting for that.

Next up was the combo of wide receiver, tight end and defensive line with 29.9 percent.

The offense-heavy option of quarterback, wide receiver and tight end was third with 22.6 percent.

Almost nobody loved the idea of safety, wide receiver and edge as that got just 4.8 percent.

Here are some of the takes you guys had on this:

@RP3Views: I voted for WR, TE and DL. I do think they need an end of the line DL, think they are fine interior DL. TE is the biggest need, and I think we'll see a trade for one and one drafted during draft weekend. WR class is so deep, I think theyll draft a really good one in the 3rd round.

@NewEnglandChris: TE, OL, Edge. Regardless of which QB starts the season as QB1, the 2020 Patriots will need to win with defense and running the football. They need to improve run blocking from last season and maintain the pass rush following offseason departures.

@Patskrieg: Went unpopular here. Safety because they still don’t have a young secondary leader in the works with DMac & Chung over 30. WR because Brother Stid needs weaponz and the WR class is worlds better than the TEs. Edge because I’m selfish and I like sacks.

@BostonWest80111: I chose WR/TE/DL. I think they need a major "beef injection" to the interior of the DL. And the WR/TE selections are rather obvious. But if you had another option I would have selected it would have been TE, DL, Edge. I think they really need to stock up on front-7 talent.

@Whofan70: Tom, I’ll choose “Other”. I think the Pats really need to address LB, TE, OL. After Hightower, who are the LB’s? In addition, LaCosse and Izzo are depth pieces at TE, not starters.

@asharsaleem121: No QB is going to succeed with pass rushers breathing down his neck. You need good blocking up front. We saw that last year. And if you can run block and TEs can set the edge, the run game will further make the QB comfortable. We saw how Sony looked in 2019 vs 2018.

@GarrettM2013: Defensive front 7 needs the most work. TE draft class is weak, and other positions are fine, just need youth and depth pieces.

A couple of respondents veered from making a choice at all and editorialized. Which is their right in these United States!

@journey200: For the last 20 years, NE has never been in the rebuilding mode. They have adjusted on the fly. What's changed if this is now considered a rebuild? Belichick was unaware that he was going to take that tact w/Brady & unaware how Tom would react? The real BB is about to be exposed.

@Wolvie58: I took number 1, also wanted to add a WR. Then remembered I will be watching the Bucs more than the Pats. Now I have to look and see they need lol

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This whole discussion, of course, is proceeding on the assumption the Patriots would draft on the basis of need. And — while they and every other team do to a degree — they also have resisted drafting at obvious need positions to load up elsewhere.

Tight end, for instance. The Patriots drafted three from 2011 through 2019: Lee Smith, A.J. Derby and Ryan Izzo. Even after Aaron Hernandez was jailed and it became clear Rob Gronkowski could be broken at any time, the team still ignored the spot in the draft while spending second-round selections on players like Cyrus Jones, Jordan Richards and JoeJuan Williams.

And this year’s tight end class — in contrast to the past two drafts — is perceived to be low on talent.

The perfect scenario, of course, is when need, talent and scheme dovetail nicely and the pick becomes easy to make. That’s a lot harder for a team like the Patriots to orchestrate because they are usually one of the final teams in the draft order.

To me, this should be a meat-and-potatoes draft.

Safety has to be a priority. With Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung getting up there and Duron Harmon traded away, the team needs a back-end lieutenant who can cover, tackle, communicate and show leadership.

Next, tight end. If they can’t find a suitable pass-catcher, then find a semi-competent one who can be a factor in the running game as well. That’s going to make more difference for the team as a whole and have a greater ripple effect than another gadgety defensive player drafted “just in case…” which is what Williams was last season.

Finally, it’s either edge or offensive line. If the two draftees from last year — Yodny Cajuste or Hjalte Froholdt — show starter promise (hard to do during this pandemic after both spent 2019 injured) then maybe the Patriots can wait. But right tackle Marcus Cannon is getting closer to the end of his career and will need replacing and promising left tackle Isaiah Wynn has so far been injury-prone. Offensive tackle has to be a priority.

And the pass rush is going to need bolstering. In the past two seasons, Trey Flowers and Kyle Van Noy have left via free agency. Chase Winovich is the most promising guy they’ve brought in but he isn’t enough. They need to get heat.

I’m not high on selecting either a quarterback or a wideout early. Find out what you have in N’Keal Harry. Presume Mohamed Sanu improves. Julian Edelman is still Julian Edelman.

And quarterback? The Patriots just went 20 years with a sixth-round pick and won six Super Bowls. They took a Division II kid in the second round in 2014 and largely shaped him into the player that started in the Super Bowl two months ago. The year they didn't have Tom Brady, they used a guy who didn’t start in college at the spot and finished in a tie for first place at 11-5. He later became a Pro Bowler. Undrafted Brian Hoyer has been in the league 11 years and has started playoff games.

The Patriots take particular pride in their ability to mold quarterbacks and they should. I wouldn't spend anything more than a third on the position this year.

Bottom line? The Patriots can’t really go wrong no matter which position they take.

Ever Wonder Series: Why does Bill Belichick cut his sleeves?

Ever Wonder Series: Why does Bill Belichick cut his sleeves?

Bill Belichick isn't one to make fashion statements. But he's also a man of reason.

If you've watched any Patriots game in the last 15 years, you've probably wondered why the surly head coach occasionally stalks New England's sideline in a gray hoodie with cut-off sleeves.

When did Belichick start this bizarre tradition? Does he cut the sleeves off himself? And most importantly, what's his reason for doing so?

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Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran has the answers in the first installment of our "Ever Wonder" series.

As Curran tells it, Belichick was seen uncomfortably fiddling with the sleeves on his gray hoodie during the Patriots' Super Bowl XXXIX win over the Philadelphia Eagles.

The following fall, he walked into the Patriots' equipment room, grabbed a pair of scissors and started cutting.

When asked why he was ruining a perfectly good sweatshirt, Belichick replied:

"My arms are too short."

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A staffer offered to make the sweatshirt differently, but Belichick insisted it was fine. He'd cut the sleeves off himself, creating his own game-day outfit that was "designed to allow one to work as efficiently as possible toward the singular goal of winning."

The chopped-off sleeves also show zero concern toward fashion, which is probably just the way Belichick likes it. As Yahoo Sports' Dan Wetzel reported in 2012, Belichick demonstrated his displeasure toward an NFL mandate that required coaches to wear approved Reebok apparel by choosing "the most unstylish outfit" -- a gray hooded sweatshirt -- and chopping the sleeves off.

"It's comfortable," Belichick said at the time. "I carry my stuff in my pouch."

So, Belichick's decision to cut off his sleeves is part pragmatic and part rebellious. But has it worked?

Patriots.com's Mike Dussault and Pats Propaganda's Bob Yoon have charted Belichick's record in every Patriots game by his clothing choice. And the "Hooded One" actually has a better winning percentage (regular and postseason) when he doesn't use scissors.

Record in games coached in cut-off sleeves: 65-24 (73.0 percent)
Record in games coached short- or long-sleeves: 202-68 (74.8 percent)

Most notably, Belichick has lost three Super Bowls while wearing a hoodie with cutoff sleeves (2007, 2011 and 2018), while every Patriots playoff loss from 2005 to 2012 came when he wore a hoodie with cut-off sleeves.

Belichick wore a short-sleeved jacket during the Patriots' Super Bowl LIII win over the Los Angeles Rams, so it sounds like he got the message.

2020 NFL season: Patriots, Bills have almost even odds to win AFC East

2020 NFL season: Patriots, Bills have almost even odds to win AFC East

The 2020 NFL season is still three and a half months away, but for the first time in awhile, there's some real intrigue in the AFC East.

With apologies to the Dolphins and Jets, it's looking like a two-team race. Will the Patriots win an unprecedented 12th straight division title? Or will the Bills finally dethrone New England to win their first AFC East crown in 25 years? 

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The odds have see-sawed in recent weeks. When the schedule was released earlier this months, DraftKings Sportsbook had the Patriots as +125 favorites, with Buffalo close behind at +145, though the Bills are now the betting favorites at +130, with the Patriots at +140.

And now another metric projects the two teams in a near dead heat.

According to ESPN's Football Power Index (FPI), Buffalo is favored to win the division... just barely. FPI gives the Bills have a 41.0 percent to claim the AFC East title, with the Patriots trailing at 40.9 percent.

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How razor-thin is FPI's margin? Both the Patriots and Bills have a 60 percent chance of making the playoffs (in the new expanded playoff field), and both teams are projected with 8.6 wins. 

Despite the projections, the Bills are very confident, with everyone from Jim Kelly to Josh Norman proclaiming the division is Buffalo's for the taking.

Meanwhile, the Bills aren't the only team that's right next to the Patriots in FPI's forecast. There's also the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, whose quarterback should be slightly familiar to Patriots fans.

FPI gives Tom Brady's new team a slight nod over his old one, as the Bucs have a 63 percent chance to make the postseason. Tampa also has a 3.6 percent chance of winning the Super Bowl — the seventh-best odds in the league — while the Patriots are right behind at 3.0 percent.

According to FPI, the Chiefs have the best odds to win Super Bowl LV at 21 percent, with the Ravens (17 percent), Saints (13 percent), 49ers (12 percent) and Cowboys (5 percent) rounding out the top five.