The New England Patriots have quite a few holes to fill heading into the 2019 NFL Draft.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski created a void when he elected to retire. And given the future uncertainty of the group, offensive line depth wouldn’t hurt. New England also could serve itself well by adding a pass rusher, and there’s a chance the reigning Super Bowl champions use a high pick on Tom Brady’s potential successor.
Arguably the Patriots’ most pressing need, however, is wide receiver. Not only does ESPN’s Mike Reiss believe New England will address the position early in the draft. He also thinks they’ll double down sometime in the later rounds.
“The Patriots’ top pick at wide receiver will come in the second round,” Reiss wrote in a column featuring draft predictions for all 32 teams. “The team has had some notable success by taking multiple players at the same position in a draft, and it makes sense to think receiver is the spot that could happen this year, as it is a top need. Ideally, one of those receivers — such as Georgia’s Mecole Hardman — will have punt-return experience and thus would fill multiple roles.”
New England only has used a first- or second-round pick on a wide receiver four times during the Bill Belichick era. Deion Branch was the only one of the bunch to live up to the billing, as Aaron Dobson, Chad Jackson and Bethel Johnson all failed to meet expectations. But considering Phillip Dorsett currently is the Patriots’ No. 2 receiver, Belichick might have to go against the grain and take a pass-catcher early.
Then again, the Patriots acquired one of the best WRs in the history of their franchise — Randy Moss — through a draft-day trade. So who knows, maybe New England will package some of its 12 picks and deal for a proven receiver.
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