Although it’s easy to dwell on the New England Patriots’ devastating loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII, the reality is it’s time to look ahead to the 2018 season.
And that, as it does every year, starts with the NFL Draft, where the Patriots’ first pick comes at No. 31 overall.
Forecasting what Bill Belichick and Co. will do on draft day is best difficult and at worst impossible. But given the expected departure of cornerback Malcolm Butler, as well as the age of quarterback Tom Brady, the Pats’ needs in the draft are a bit more glaring.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr., for one, believes New England will opt to shore up its defensive backfield with its first selection.
“I have them taking Donte Jackson, the cornerback from LSU,” Kiper said on a conference call Wednesday afternoon, via WEEI. “… You have a talented kid with great speed and great recovery ability. Can twist those hips and run with anybody. He’s the kind of guy I think would definitely be there as a possibility.”
Jackson isn’t the only cornerback Kiper thinks the Patriots could target, however.
“M.J. Stewart from North Carolina, solid football player, a veteran,” Kiper said. “Carlton Davis has the length out of Auburn. You have guys like Isaiah Oliver out of Colorado, and Jaire Alexander. If Alexander was healthy all year, I think he would have been, I wouldn’t say a guaranteed first (-rounder), but he would have been more of a consideration in the first round.”
If nothing else, these are names Patriots fans can keep in their minds when the draft begins Thursday, April 26.
But, knowing the Pats, they’ll probably trade out of the first round and wait until Round 2 to draft an obscure hybrid linebacker.