Mel Kiper’s grade for Patriots’ 2020 draft class is in and it’s… pretty meh.
New England selected 10 players in the draft before signing a host of others — including a quarterback — as undrafted free agents. Whether this draft was a win for Bill Belichick remains to be seen, but the Patriots coach nevertheless made some curious choices in New England’s first post-Tom Brady crack at reloading the roster.
ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper was moderately impressed, giving the Patriots a “C-plus” grade.
From his column published Saturday night:
It’s a new era in New England, and it’s not just Tom Brady who is no longer on the roster. The defense, which carried the Patriots last season, has seen Danny Shelton, Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, Elandon Roberts and Duron Harmon all leave. This roster is more depleted than I can remember. Bill Belichick loves a challenge, of course, and had 12 picks entering the draft, including three in Round 3, to try to fill some holes. So what did Belichick do with the No. 23 pick on Thursday night? He traded back.
Yes, the Patriots picked up the second-round pick they lost when they traded for Mohamed Sanu at midseason, as the Chargers traded their second- and third-rounders to get back into Round 1. Then the Pats loaded up on Day 2 picks, taking safety Kyle Dugger (37), linebackers Josh Uche (60) and Anfernee Jennings (87) and tight ends Devin Asiasi (91) and Dalton Keene (101). Dugger dominated at the Division II level, then ran a 4.49 40-yard dash at the combine. He could be a versatile player for the New England defense. Uche and Jennings have some edge rushing upside. I was lower on the tight ends — I wrote about it after Day 2 — but it is a clear need area with the offense struggling sans Gronk in 2019. I just had better ones available in my rankings.
My biggest issue with this class is no quarterback; the Patriots passed on Jalen Hurts, Jacob Eason and Jake Fromm throughout. I’m not sold that 2019 fourth-rounder Jarrett Stidham should be the unquestioned starter. I could look silly in a couple of weeks when the Pats trade for Andy Dalton or sign Cam Newton, but this is a whiff for me.
Make of that what you will.
Ultimately, the biggest debate surrounding the Patriots’ 2020 class will focus on the lack of a quarterback selection. However, there’s at least some reason to be confident Belichick made the right call.