Assessing Patriots’ 2018 NFL Draft Using Bill Belichick’s Grading Scale


April 1, 2020

Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy gave a glimpse into the New England Patriots’ scouting strategy Wednesday on Twitter.

Essentially, the Patriots want their scouts to tell them what a player’s role will be in that prospect’s third NFL season.

So, let’s go pick by pick and look at the Patriots’ 2018 draft class to analyze their role for this upcoming season.

OT Isaiah Wynn
Wynn missed his first NFL season after being selected in the first round then started eight games at left tackle in 2019, missing the other eight games with a toe injury. Wynn is the Patriots’ projected starting left tackle in 2020 and beyond.

OT Sony Michel
Michel also was a first-round pick in 2018. He’s started 22 of 29 career games and is projected to be a starter next season, as well — unless he gets beat out in training camp and preseason. He could potentially get pushed by 2019 third-round pick Damien Harris after struggling in 2019 in comparison to his 2018 campaign.

CB Duke Dawson
Dawson, a second-round pick, only lasted one season with the Patriots and never played in a regular-season game. He started three games with the Denver Broncos last season after a training camp trade. He could still find a role as a slot cornerback in the NFL.

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LB J’Whaun Bentley
The fifth-round pick has started four of 19 career games. He’s in line to be a full-time starter next season with Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins and Elandon Roberts all departing in free agency. Bentley started two of three games as a rookie then took a backseat to Collins as a second-year player.

LB Christian Sam
Sam never played a game with the Patriots. He missed his rookie season with an injury then was cut last training camp. He’s a practice squad player.

WR Braxton Berrios
See above, essentially. Berrios played 16 games but didn’t receive a start with the New York Jets last season. He’s a return specialist and backup slot receiver.

QB Danny Etling
Etling spent the 2018 season on the Patriots’ practice squad then was moved to wide receiver last training camp. He was waived and caught on with the Atlanta Falcons, with whom he was moved back to QB. He spent most of the year on the Falcons’ practice squad. He’s a No. 3 quarterback moving forward.

CB Keion Crossen
Crossen played 11 games, mostly on special teams, with the Patriots in 2018. He was traded to the Houston Texans and played 16 games with no starts in 2019. He’s a special teamer with reserve defensive ability.

TE Ryan Izzo
Izzo missed his rookie season with an injury. He started four of six games in 2019 and is firmly on the roster bubble entering Year 3. His ceiling is as a No. 2 or 3 tight end moving forward.

Ultimately, the Patriots could wind up with three starters from their 2018 draft class. That’s not bad. Their draft will look a lot better if Michel returns to his rookie season form in 2020 and beyond.

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