Now that Super Bowl LIV has come and gone, the football world will shift its focus to the NFL Scouting Combine, free agency and, of course, the draft.
The Patriots could go a number of ways with the 23rd overall pick. New England is in fairly desperate need of a pass catcher — either a tight end or a wide receiver — while some mock drafts have projected the Patriots will target the secondary with their first-round selection. Given Tom Brady’s uncertain future, using a first-rounder on a quarterback probably can’t be ruled out, either.
NFL.com draft analyst Chad Reuter, however, sees New England addressing the interior at No. 23 in the form of TCU defensive tackle Ross Blacklock.
“Blacklock is an absolute disruptor in the middle of a defense,” Reuter wrote. “The Patriots’ inability to stop the Titans’ run game in the Wild Card Round will weigh heavily on Bill Belichick’s mind this offseason.”
Defensive tackle soon could become an area of need for New England, as both Danny Shelton and Adam Butler are set to become free agents when the new league year begins in mid-March. One has to imagine the Patriots have a level of interest in both players, but there’s a chance either or both could jump out of the franchise’s price range given their strong 2019 seasons.
But even in the event New England loses both Shelton and Butler, it still feels like DT shouldn’t be near the top of its priority list. Offense was the Patriots’ Achilles heel this past season, and the need for both playmaking and offensive line help seem more pressing.