The New England Patriots selected a consensus top cornerback in Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez on Thursday and were graded a straight “A” here. It was even better since they traded down and still landed Gonzalez.
Having suggested that drafting any position was fine since the Patriots have needs all over the field, it’s difficult to take exception to Day Two’s festivities. Nevertheless, that’s the case. They missed the mark.
The implicit assumption in the statement about positioning was that the New England Patriots would certainly address their dire need for offensive help early.
They passed and drafted defense with their two picks on Day Two. No offensive help arrived and both picks were reaches. Those are the keys to the grade here.
The New England Patriots botched Day Two of the draft
It’s been said here that “hope springs eternal” that the Patriots will draft sensibly and logically, a consensus draft without major reaches. They didn’t, again.
White was nowhere to be found in PFF’s top 10 edge players in the draft. His selection is a bit of a reach. Pff noted the following about White, suggesting he was a “winner” in the draft,
"Keion White is an unpolished ball of destruction right now, but he was drafted by the Patriots and gets to be molded by one of the finest defensive coaches the game has ever seen in Bill Belichick. White has impressive physical traits but is a long way from being able to harness all of that power and wild play to become a truly destructive player. He has a very high ceiling and couldn’t have landed in a better spot to help him tap into that potential."
White may be a solid future player. But the Patriots need offensive help now or they’ll be looking up at the rest of the AFC East. For that reason, the pick gets a D+ grade. The need was offense and the team passed.
New England Patriots double down on another defensive player
In the third round (pick No. 76), the team drafted a special teams guy, Marte Mapu from San Diego State. He’s likely a safety though listed as a linebacker.
NFL.com notes the following,
"Mapu has been praised for his versatility, but he might need to prove he can excel in at least one department — whether in run support or in coverage — at the next level. He lacks short-area athleticism and long speed, so his man coverage might be limited to tight ends. He is highly instinctive from short zone and is a very willing hitter when playing near the box. It won’t be a surprise if Mapu adds weight and locks in as a backup weakside linebacker in a 4-3 defense as a pro."
That’s not inspiring and the team passed up players on offense who would have been much better options.
Among the player passed up were tight end Tucker Kraft (a major need) touted here from South Dakota State, Josh Downs a receiver from North Carolina, Tyjae Spears, a running back from Tulane, and offensive tackle Wanya Morris from Oklahoma.
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They also passed on Dawand Jones, an offensive tackle from Ohio State who’s slipped down draft boards. He’s an immediate starter or top backup at the team’s most critical position of need.
Mapu may be a nice player wherever he ultimately plays, though, at 6’3″ tall and only 217 pounds, he’s certainly not linebacker sized.
The players noted above were better options. Again, though they need a safety, the overarching needs are on offense. The pick grades a D-.
Overall, Day Two’s grade is a D. The New England Patriots reverted to form with head-scratching picks based on the team’s most urgent needs.
Perhaps they can bail themselves out with a Day Three that loads up on offense, especially tackle. We’ll see. But for Friday, the Grade is D.