The New England Patriots don’t have a second-round pick, but they are absolutely loaded with mid-rounders in the 2020 NFL Draft.
The Patriots picked up an additional fourth-round selection in a pick swap sending retired tight end Rob Gronkowski and a seventh-rounder to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Patriots now have a first-round pick, three third-rounders, two-fourth round selections, a fifth-round pick, four sixths and a seventh.
So, how does this affect the Patriots’ draft strategy?
A couple of thoughts:
— This almost guarantees the Patriots will take a kicker between the fourth and fifth rounds. The Patriots grabbed kicker Stephen Gostkowski in the fourth round of the 2006 NFL Draft. They’ve taken two punters and a long snapper in the fifth round since Bill Belichick came on board in 2000. With two fourths and a fifth, chances are high one of those picks will be spent on Gostkowski’s replacement.
— This increases the chances of the Patriots taking a quarterback in the first three rounds of the draft. The Patriots can now safely take a quarterback in, say, the third round, and then fill another need with their newly acquired fourth-round pick in a range where some first-year contribution is still reasonable. In doing mock draft simulations this offseason, it always felt like a luxury taking a quarterback in the third round with other needs to fill. The Patriots have holes at quarterback, wide receiver, tight end, offensive line, linebacker, defensive end and kicker.
If the Patriots use their first five picks on a tight end, linebacker, offensive lineman, quarterback and wide receiver, then maybe they take a pass rusher with the extra fourth-round pick and wait on a kicker until the fifth round. The extra fourth essentially just gives the Patriots more flexibility in filling needs while also maybe making a luxury pick at quarterback or on a player who’s falling in the draft. They also could flip one of their fourth-round picks to move up in the draft or out to pick up additional 2021 draft capital.