Tight end and linebacker look like the New England Patriots’ two biggest needs entering the 2020 NFL Draft. Mel Kiper agrees.
During a conference call with reporters Wednesday, the longtime ESPN draft analyst laid out five players at those key positions whom he believes New England should target next week.
At tight end, Kiper mentioned Florida Atlantic’s Harrison Bryant, UCLA’s Devin Asiasi and Portland State’s Charlie Taumoepeau as potential Patriots fits.
Bryant, last year’s Mackey Award winner as the nation’s top tight end, is a likely Day 2 pick. Asiasi should hear his name called in the early stages of Day 3. Taumoepeau, a Football Championship Subdivision product who turned in a solid NFL Scouting Combine workout, is a late-round prospect.
“Devin Asiasi from UCLA, formerly of Michigan, is a kid who I think is a little underrated going into Day 3,” Kiper said, via the Boston Herald. “I’ve always liked Harrison Bryant from Florida Atlantic. You could get him in the third or fourth round. I think he would be intriguing. … The Portland State kid is interesting, as well. Great run-after-the-catch ability, had some impressive games. He could be a late-round pick.”
This draft class does not include any obvious first-round talents at tight end. Others who could be on the Patriots’ radar on Day 2 include Notre Dame’s Cole Kmet, Dayton’s Adam Trautman, Washington’s Hunter Bryant and Purdue’s Brycen Hopkins. LSU’s Thaddeus Moss and Virginia Tech’s Dalton Keene are potential Day 3 options.
For linebackers, Kiper presented two highly touted prospects: projected first-rounders Kenneth Murray of Oklahoma and Zack Baun of Wisconsin. Murray and Baun have been linked to the Patriots at No. 23 overall in numerous mock drafts, including ours here at NESN.com.
The Patriots currently own 12 picks in the 2020 draft — second-most in the NFL behind the Miami Dolphins (14) — but just one of the first 86 selections.