Every week during the NFL season, Tom E. Curran & Phil Perry will debate a topic on the minds of Patriots fans.
If there was an offensive player the Patriots could pluck from the Bills that would make a major difference it would be…
Instead, the Patriots used their first-round pick on wide receiver N’Keal Harry (right position, we’ll see if Harry is the right guy), their second-round pick on corner Joejuan Williams (terrific kid, niche player who didn’t immediately help) and their two third-round picks prior to 96 on Chase Winovich and running back Damien Harris.
Winovich made great sense. Harris? A running back in the third when they took a running back in the first in 2018? A running back when Knox (among a few tight ends) was sitting there ready to help staff a position the Patriots let grow fallow? Come on.
Knox has played every game this year. He’s got 27 catches for 355 yards and two touchdowns. He’s been a very capable blocker. His hands are not the steadiest – he’s got six drops – but that’s not unusual for a rookie.
How has he looked? Like this.
In short, very capable.
The last draft pick the Pats spent on a tight end was in 2018 when they took Ryan Izzo in the seventh round. He’s got six catches this season. He’s played 164 snaps. He was an astonishingly incapable run blocker. Knox was the eighth tight end off the board in April. Sixteen were selected this year.
Since 2011, the Patriots have taken three tight ends in the draft – Izzo, A.J. Derby and Lee Smith. It was long past time the Patriots looked at replacing Gronk with some draft capital. The Patriots passed on Knox and plenty of others. And they’ve lived to regret it.
***He was a Prototypical Patriot in the spring because he checked every box when it came to the physical characteristics the Patriots typically take at that position.
He came out of the SEC. He was a walk-on. He played quarterback in high school. He blocks well. (Pro Football Focus has him graded as the fourth-best run-blocking tight end in football with at least 270 snaps.) Like I said. Prototypical.
But Knox is not the answer here. The answer is Cole Beasley. I think even the Patriots might acknowledge that. They chased Beasley in the offseason as a free agent and he chose Buffalo. What he'd do for the Patriots is provide an incredibly valuable trickle-down effect.
He'd give the team a dependable, durable slot option. In the process, he'd take targets -- and more importantly hits -- off of Julian Edelman's plate. Josh McDaniels has said before that the Patriots would love to play Edelman more outside. Beasley's addition would allow for that. And that'd mean a healthier Edelman for the most important time of the year.
Beasley already has 60 catches this season working with Josh Allen. He'd be an 80 catch guy in this offense (Knox wouldn't sniff that number), and he'd threaten defenses in the middle of the field in such a way they'd be punished for doubling Edelman. Nabbing Beasley also would've saved the team the second-rounder it dealt for Mohamed Sanu.
I believe Knox, long-term, would be a nice player here. But Beasley is the guy who'd make a major difference for this Patriots team.