Patriots

NFL Scouting Combine buzz: Upcoming draft class lacks elite depth

NFL Scouting Combine buzz: Upcoming draft class lacks elite depth

INDIANAPOLIS -- As an NFL franchise, you never want to be picking near the top-10 if you can avoid it. Obviously. But this might be about as bad a year as any to find yourself in that situation.

Picks No. 10-32, I was told by one senior evaluator, look like they're going to result in similarly-talented players this year. You might even be able to start higher than that, I was told. The Lions at No. 8, for instance, could be taking a player whose grade will be similar to that of someone coming off the board 20 picks later.

Not ideal for those teams drafting high and looking for a franchise-altering player.

From a Patriots perspective, though, that's not the worst news in the world. Sure, the odds on a top-level talent sliding all the way to them at No. 32 are next to zero, but that's something they're used to. More importantly, it means that the second tier of players available this year looks relatively deep. It may even extend a few picks beyond No. 32. 

MORE PATRIOTS

That should give Bill Belichick and his front office -- they of the famously small draft boards, as picky a team as there is in the league -- plenty of options. They could make a pick, or if they feel like a similarly-graded player could be had at the top of the second round, they could make a deal to move out. 

A trade back might be logical if they have future drafts mind. They already have 12 picks and six in the top 101 this spring. It's highly unlikely the Patriots take 12 players this year, and so adding more draft capital to their cache of picks in 2019 wouldn't make much sense. But if Belichick traded back in return for ammo to use next year, when the draft class might be deeper? Feels like there would be some merit to that line of thinking.

Additionally, a draft class that is top heavy this spring and deep through the majority of the first round would seem to make a trade up by the Patriots from No. 32 less likely. If that's how their board is structured, and if they hold to that, why spend picks to move up into the teens if the player who may fall to you later in the night has a similar grade? Perhaps a trade from second-round picks No. 56 or 64 -- deals that might allow the Patriots to capitalize on that late-first depth -- would be sensible.

Which players might be available to the Patriots at No. 32 if they want to hold tight to the last pick of Day 1? We mocked Clemson defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence to New England at that spot recently. Versatile Florida defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson could be an option. The Patriots have also taken close looks at the tight end class this year, which includes Iowa's T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant as well as Alabama's Irv Smith -- all of whom could end up first-rounders.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Patriots Report Card: Pats make Jets lives miserable

report_card_10-22-19.png
NBC Sports Boston Illustration

Patriots Report Card: Pats make Jets lives miserable

The Patriots did enough early on Monday night that they made their jobs a little bit easier later on. They jumped out to a commanding early lead by scoring on three of their first four drives with varied personnel packages. They confounded Sam Darnold early and forced him to play spooked to the point that he made mistakes even when he wasn't pressured into them. 

It wasn't perfect. And the grades reflect that. But it was yet another dominant effort from Bill Belichick's point as they get closer to the season's midway point. 

Click here to read Phil Perry's full Patriots Report Card>>>

Bill Belichick reacts to Mohamed Sanu trade, calls new Patriots WR 'a talented player'

Bill Belichick reacts to Mohamed Sanu trade, calls new Patriots WR 'a talented player'

The Atlanta Falcons made the Mohamed Sanu trade with the New England Patriots official Tuesday, but the defending Super Bowl champs have not yet acknowledged the move.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick didn't have anything to say about the trade during his morning conference call with reporters, but he was a little more forthcoming on WEEI's "Ordway, Merloni and Fauria" show Tuesday afternoon.

“Well, I think we are working through that," Belichick said. "We'll see. We’ll put (Sanu) in and see how it goes. He’s a talented player. He’s got a lot of experience. He’s done different things, so we’ll see how it all fits for us.”

The Patriots gave up a 2020 second-round draft pick for Sanu, which is a fairly steep price, but he's not a rental. The 30-year-old wide receiver is signed through the 2021 season.

Sanu's addition upgrades the team's depth at wide receiver, which has been a concern throughout the season amid injuries and roster turnover. He's been quite durable over the last six seasons with only two games missed over that span. Sanu also was among Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan's top targets, tallying at least 66 receptions, 700-plus yards and four touchdowns in each of the last two seasons.

The Patriots did not practice Tuesday but they'll be back at it Wednesday, when Sanu is expected to make his first appearance in New England colors. His first game action with the Patriots should come Sunday afternoon when the Cleveland Browns visit Gillette Stadium for a Week 8 matchup. 

What Sanu said after Tom Brady's Super Bowl LI heroics>>>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.