The time for basking in the glory of another Super Bowl title is almost over.
The Patriots own 12 picks in this year’s draft, including six in the first three rounds, and there are several areas New England could address, both offensively and defensively, as quarterback Tom Brady enters his age-42 season.
ESPN.com published an article Monday in which Football Outsiders broke down the draft, identifying each team’s biggest need, a quiet need and a position where there’s no need at all.
Here’s what Football Outsiders determined about the Patriots:
Biggest need: Receivers
Quiet need: Edge rusher
Not a need: Running back
It’s hard to argue with those choices. The Patriots would benefit from giving Brady more weapons after losing Rob Gronkowski, Chris Hogan and Cordarrelle Patterson. They’ve signed free agent Demaryius Thomas since the piece was published Monday, but New England’s wide receiver depth chart still only consists of Julian Edelman, Phillip Dorsett, Bruce Ellington, Maurice Harris, Braxton Berrios, Damoun Patterson and special teamer Matthew Slater. Josh Gordon’s future remains up in the air.
The “quiet need” pointed out by Football Outsiders obviously stems largely from the departure of Trey Flowers, who signed a lucrative contract with the Detroit Lions in free agency. The Patriots completed a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles for Michael Bennett, but they certainly could use some additional help rushing the quarterback.
Here’s what Football Outsiders wrote about New England’s need at edge rusher:
Michael Bennett will provide some short-term stability for the Pats, but he has worn out his welcome at every NFL stop. After losing Trey Flowers in free agency and cutting Adrian Clayborn, the Pats don’t have much depth on the edge. Derek Rivers hasn’t developed the way they had hoped in run defense, either. This is a spot where they could easily spend multiple picks, although Bill Belichick doesn’t have a history of taking pass-rushers in the first couple of rounds.
The Patriots’ first pick comes at No. 32 in the first round by virtue of their Super Bowl LIII win over the Los Angeles Rams. Bill Belichick has a history of trading down in the draft, but the Patriots’ abundance of picks gives them the option to trade up if they fall in love with a specific player.
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