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!

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

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

Listen and subscribe to Tom E. Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast:

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.

Benjamin Watson: 'I do think there's a much more acceptance now of players speaking out'

benjamin_watson.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Benjamin Watson: 'I do think there's a much more acceptance now of players speaking out'

The death of George Floyd last week in Minneapolis has sparked protests throughout the United States as people have gathered to raise awareness and call for change in the fight against racial injustice.

Many athletes across different sports have been leaders in that movement, including a few right here in Boston.

Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown drove 15 hours from Boston to Atlanta to engage in peaceful protests last weekend. Celtics centers Enes Kanter and Vincent Poirier, as well as guard Marcus Smart, participated in peaceful protests in Boston on Sunday.

Click here to enter NBC Sports Boston’s Podcast Sweepstakes for your chance to win a desktop Bluetooth speaker/microphone!

NBA players aren't alone, though. The 2020 NFL season isn't scheduled to start until September, but many of the league's players have not been shy about speaking out or taking part in peaceful protests in recent days.

NFL players also haven't been afraid to protest racial injustice before games, including former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who knelt during the national anthem during the 2016 season. Several other players have done the same since Kaepernick.

Former Patriots tight end Benjamin Watson joined the latest episode of the "Patriots Talk Podcast" with Tom E. Curran to discuss a number of topics related to the events that have unfolded throughout the nation over the last week or so.

Does Watson think NFL players will be more willing to and unified in protesting when the season begins, and will the league, its fans and the owners be more receptive to understanding those protests if they happen?

"Yes, yes, and yes," Watson said. "I think we are on a continuum of awareness, we're on a continuum of involvement of many people in different phases and spheres of life who are getting on board with this. Some people may not even agree that it's an issue, but they say, 'You know what, everyone else is doing it and I don't want to be left out.' And so they get involved, maybe disingenuously, but then over time they realize the truth of the matter. And that's great as well, even if they get in on false pretenses. At some point if they realize it, then I think the goal has been accomplished. I do think there's a much more acceptance now of players speaking out about these things."

Listen and subscribe to Tom E. Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast:

Watson also thinks the Patriots have done well to allow their players to speak out and make an impact on important matters away from the football field.

"And I'll say this, I was talking to someone the other day with the team, and I was telling him just that the Patriots, I believe, have done a good job in allowing their players to get involved with issues outside of the game," Watson said. "They've provided a space. There was a bill about education that came up last year, here in Massachusetts. A number of players got on board, speaking about it and talking about it. They had support from Mr. Kraft. They had support from coach Belichick to go and do those things. Support from the PR department. Other teams aren't like that, so there are varying degrees of which the organization will support and understand.

"I think the biggest thing here in Boston that I've seen is the reaction, especially of fans, when players are kneeling -- everybody can get behind education, but when it comes to police brutality and racism and those sorts of things, it gets a little touchy. I do think that there will be more of an acceptance -- there will be more involvement from other players. We've seen an outcry from players, black, white, it didn't matter, when it came to George Floyd. I've had multiple players reach out, 'I don't understand these things, give me some resources so I can read about what's been going on that I'm just not privy to.' I think there's definitely going to be a greater awareness and a greater togetherness with at least in identifying the issue. ..."

You can check Watson's full conversation with Curran in the latest episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast on the NBC Sports Boston Podcast Network or on YouTube.

Kraft family issues statement on George Floyd's death: 'We are horrified by the acts of racism we've witnessed'

kraft_statement_george_floyd.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Kraft family issues statement on George Floyd's death: 'We are horrified by the acts of racism we've witnessed'

The New England Patriots reacted Tuesday night to the death of George Floyd by releasing a statement from the Kraft family.

Floyd died in Minneapolis police custody last week, which has led to protests over racial injustice throughout the United States over the last several days. 

Here is the Kraft family statement in full:

"Over the last several days, we have tried to listen, learn and reflect. We have been at a loss for the appropriate words, perhaps because there are none to adequately describe the horrific incidents of the last few weeks. It is impossible for us to comprehend what happened to George Floyd or the pain his family must be feeling, a pain that resonates with so many others who have lost loved ones in similar brutalities that were not captured on video for the rest of the world to see. We cannot begin to understand the frustration and fear members of our black community have faced for generations. Recent events have shined a light on a topic that demands much more attention.

"Our country deeply needs healing. We don't have the answers, but we do know that we want to be a part of the change. As leaders in the New England community, we must speak up. Here is where our family, and our organization, stands:

"We are horrified by the acts of racism we've witnessed. We are heartbroken for the families who have lost loved ones, and we are devastated for our communities of color, who are sad, who are exhausted, who are suffering. We know that none of the sadness, exhaustion or suffering is new. We know it is systemic. Our eyes, ears and hearts are open.

"Our family has a long history of supporting vulnerable people in our communities and advocating for equality. But past efforts don't mean anything until we all stand on equal footing in America, so we must act in the present, and not simply rely on what we've done in the past. There remains much work to be done. We will not rest on statements, because words without actions are void. Rather, we will work harder than ever before – through our philanthropy, community engagement, advocacy and supporting the work of our players – to build bridges, to promote equality, to stand up for what's right and to value ALL people."