The hype is palpable surrounding the New England Patriots as they gear up for what’s billed to be one among their extra aggressive offseasons in latest reminiscence. Invoice Belichick and firm are armed with the fourth-highest quantity of cap house within the league, have an array of draft picks at their disposal, and a variety of holes to fill on a roster that went 7-9 and missed the playoffs in 2020. Tremors of this seismic offseason have already begun main as much as the beginning of the brand new league yr with the membership re-acquiring outdated pal Trent Brown in a commerce with the Las Vegas Raiders earlier this week. Now, rumors are percolating that large receiver N’Keal Harry could also be on the block with groups reportedly inquiring on his availability through commerce.
Whereas some might view these two nuggets because the warm-up to an eventual firework present over in Foxborough (which may in the end show to be the case), there’s additionally a regarding ingredient to those two strikes particularly in how they’re associated. Each — in their very own method — spotlight New England’s poor execution within the first spherical of the NFL draft in recent times.
After all, the dots are usually not onerous to attach with the likes of Harry, who has but to ascertain himself because the top-flight receiver after the Patriots chosen him with the No. 32 general choose again in 2019. Via two seasons, Harry has performed 21 regular-season video games and the stats do not depart a lot to be desired. He is hauled in 45 passes on a 55.6 catch proportion for 414 yards and 4 touchdowns. Whenever you evaluate these numbers to a few of Harry’s draft classmates who had been taken beneath him (Deebo Samuel, A.J. Brown, Mecole Hardman, D.Okay. Metcalf, and so forth.), it is onerous to not say New England might have miscalculated.
In a vacuum, shifting on from a participant who does not appear to suit your offense and will use a change of surroundings to get his profession off the bottom must be one thing any staff explores. Nevertheless, when it is somebody with Harry’s draft pedigree and the preliminary hope that he may have taken the offense to a transfer dynamic stage, it is a robust tablet to swallow.
It is also simply the most recent in what has been a crippling run within the first spherical of drafts. And that brings us to the Trent Brown commerce.
Throughout his tenure with the Raiders, the 6-foot-8 behemoth performed at proper deal with, however New England may very well be bringing him again to Patriot Place to fit him on the blindside the place he dominated throughout his earlier tenure with the staff in 2018. If that is the membership’s intention, what of present left deal with Isaiah Wynn, who the Patriots chosen No. 23 general in 2018?
When wholesome, Wynn has been a stable determine at his put up, however over his three years in Foxborough, the 24-year-old has performed simply 18 video games. At 6-foot-2, Wynn additionally could also be higher suited to kick in at guard and presumably change Joe Thuney on the left aspect as he enters unrestricted free company. Irrespective of how New England in the end slices out the roles alongside its offensive line, sturdiness considerations are all the time going to hover over Wynn, which can be why Brown is again within the fold. His arrival not solely provides the unit dimension however versatility and depth. Once more, whenever you take somebody within the first spherical, the participant is anticipated to be a blue-chip piece to your general roster, and thus far, Wynn has but to turn out to be that because of his well being.
That additional complicates the choice that New England will quickly have with Wynn and fellow 2018 first-round choose Sony Michel — one other high choice who has but to really set up himself as a star — concerning their fifth-year choices. The truth that you even pause at whether or not or not the Patriots ought to deploy that device implies that the picks have not been as fruitful as initially anticipated.
That brings New England to the fashionable day. The membership’s incapability to seek out manufacturing with their first-rounders — actually courting again to their final profitable picks in that spot in Chandler Jones (No. 21) and Dont’a Hightower (No. 25) in 2012 — has now began to inflict important injury, particularly with out a Corridor of Fame quarterback to erase a number of the miscues.
Sure, the Patriots are armed with a great deal of cap house and may fare effectively in free company, however that is solely half the battle. In the event that they need to bounce again from an underneath .500 season shortly, they’re going to additionally want to begin executing on the draft starting at No. 15 general this yr, which is their highest choice since 2008. This carries much more weight if New England elects to make use of the draft to seek out its subsequent quarterback. In spite of everything, the membership has reportedly been scouting this QB class fairly intently, which ought to excite and scare any Patriots fan abruptly given their iffy historical past selecting up high.
If Belichick cannot discover a method out of his draft hunch, the trail again towards relevancy simply will get bumpier.