The New England Patriots’ need for another safety lessened when they re-signed Duron Harmon as an unrestricted free agent, but it didn’t go away.
The Patriots still could use another safety with the toughness to play in the box and athleticism to man the slot. This player presumably would compete with Jordan Richards for a roster spot.
Here are players who fit the Patriots’ typical draft standards with each of their seven draft picks.
Round 3, 72nd Overall Pick: Desmond King, Iowa
King is a versatile player who could line up in the slot or at safety. He’s a strong tackler and allowed just a 41.5 passer rating in 2016, according to Pro Football Focus’ Draft Edge.
He’s not a burner but ran a 6.67-second three-cone drill and 4.18-second short shuttle at 5-foot-10, 201 pounds.
Round 3, 96th Overall Pick: Delano Hill, Michigan
Hill is a solid tackler, is strong in coverage and has experience in the slot.
At 6-foot-1, 216 pounds, he ran a 4.47-second 40-yard dash with a 6.96-second three-cone.
Round 4, 131st Overall Pick: Xavier Woods, Louisiana Tech
Who? No, not that Xavier Woods.
This one is 5-foot-11, 197 pounds and ran a 4.51-second 40 with a 6.72-second three-cone.
He’s another strong tackler with experience in the slot. Sense a trend?
Round 5, 163rd Overall Pick: John Johnson, Boston College
Johnson missed just five combined tackles in 2016 with the Eagles, ranking fourth in Pro Football Focus’ tackle efficiency metric.
He ran a 6.72-second three-cone with a 4.18-second shuttle, 37-inch vertical leap and 10-foot broad jump.
Round 5, 183rd Overall Pick: Jadar Johnson, Clemson
Johnson is a future free safety. At 6 feet, 206 pounds, he ran a 6.90-second three-cone with a 10-foot, 4-inch broad jump and 4.20-second shuttle.
Round 6, 200th Overall Pick: Rayshawn Jenkins, Miami
Jenkins is a great all-around athlete at 6-foot-1, 214 pounds. He meets the Patriots’ typical standards with a 4.51-second 40, 37-inch vertical, 10-foot, 8-inch broad jump, 7.06-second three-cone and 4.20-second shuttle.
Round 7, 239th Overall Pick: Chuck Clark, Virginia Tech
Clark was solid as a run defender last season and contributed in the slot.
He’s a great athlete at 6 feet, 208 pounds, running a 6.85-second three-cone with a 4.07-second shuttle.
Undrafted Free Agent: Kai Nacua, BYU
Nacua wasn’t invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, but he put on a show at his pro day with a 4.49-second 40, 39-inch vertical, 10-foot, 7-inch broad jump, 6.87-second three-cone and 4.14-second shuttle.
He missed just four tackles last season.
Potential First-Round Pick: Budda Baker, Washington
The best safety on this list who can play in the slot, is a strong tackler and ran a superb three-cone.
Other fits include LSU’s Jamal Adams, N.C. State’s Josh Jones, Utah’s Marcus Williams, UConn’s Obi Melifonwu, Utah’s Jason Thompson and Southern Georgia’s Ironhead Gallon.
Thompson is more of a special-teams option than a safety, but he’s a tremendous athlete.
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