Thanks to the debacle that was Deflategate, the New England Patriots won’t be selecting in the first round of this year’s NFL draft. But one respected former NFL executive believes Bill Belichick and Co. won’t miss a beat.
Gil Brandt, who served as the Dallas Cowboys’ director of player personnel from 1960 to 1988, said Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine he believes the 2016 draft is backloaded to the later rounds, which perfectly suits a team like the Patriots.
“This is a draft that’s a Patriot draft,” Brandt told Patriots.com. “There’s not really many first-rounders. There’s a lot of guys that are in the category of 20 to 50. You don’t have 28 (true) first-rounders, so the (teams) who do their homework are going to do pretty well, because all these (players) look the same.”
This year’s draft is highlighted by a few players who move the meter, such as quarterback Jared Goff, defensive end Joey Bosa and defensive end Shaq Lawson. New England won’t have a shot at any of those players, as its first selection won’t come until No. 60 overall. The Patriots have a history of swapping first- or second-round picks for other assets, but Brandt believes Belichick will make a straightforward move with his team’s second-round pick in April.
“I think that they’ll take the best player available,” Brandt said. “Last year, the best player was (Malcom Brown) from Texas and he fell to them, a pretty good player.”
The Patriots took Brown with the last pick in the first round of the 2015 draft, and the defensive tackle had a strong rookie season as a mainstay on New England’s defensive line. The Patriots have a few needs entering this year’s draft, but former NFL general manager and current ESPN analyst Mark Dominick sees them going after a running back with their selections.
“I think this is a year where Bill Belichick decides, ‘OK, I’m going to go back and draft a running back, maybe in the second or third round again,’ ” Dominik said, via Patriots.com. “Dion Lewis or James White, I think they’re really good in their roles. But they need that every-down back, the kind of guy that they can trust to can catch the ball out of the backfield, that can protect and kind of do everything. This feels like a good class where they can maybe steal one in the second round.”
Thumbnail photo via Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick watches the players workout during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium.
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