As the old saying goes, the rich get richer.
Less than three months after winning their sixth Super Bowl in franchise history, the New England Patriots, by seemingly a consensus evaluation, made out pretty nicely in the 2019 NFL Draft. Not only did the Patriots address the majority of their most pressing needs, they also landed players who are poised to make immediate impacts.
As such, ESPN NFL analyst Matt Bowen believes New England’s rookie class will make the biggest impact of any team in the 2019 season.
“The Patriots’ top four selections should all play roles as rookies,” Bowen writes. “Start with WR N’Keal Harry. He fills a need at the position, with the big body to run inside breaking routes and finish on contested throws. CB Joejuan Williams fits as a man-coverage defender with a monster, 6-foot-4 frame and ball skills at the point of attack. OLB Chase Winovich? He’s a versatile edge defender with pass-rush upside. And RB Damien Harris brings a decisive, downhill running style to the Patriots’ offense, with the receiving skills and pass-protection ability to square up blitzing linebackers.”
It’s no easy task to find your niche with the Patriots, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Given their current depth at certain positions, however, players like Harry and Winovich might have their number called from the get-go. But hey, sometimes the best way to make your way into the pro level is being thrown right into the fire. Just look at 2018 fifth-round pick Ja’Whaun Bentley, who started in Week 1 as a rookie as New England began to form its identity at linebacker. Bentley was on pace to have a major role in New England’s defense before going down with a season-ending injury.
It’s far from a guarantee that any of the players Bowen noted will shine as rookies, but given the way the Patriots’ roster is shaping up, it sure seems like they’ll at least have the opportunity.