Potential Pats Targets at Pick #23
It has been a long time since the Patriots have picked this early in the first round. You can’t complain too much when four out of the previous five years resulted in either pick 31 or 32. There honestly might be a better chance of Bill trading out of the first round instead of using the pick at all. But just in case, here are a few guys I like that might hang around until the 23rd pick.
Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
Herbert is honestly the only high profile QB I like in this draft. Jordan Love led the nation in INTs last season. Tua has the hips of a 75 year old. The few games I watched of Herbert he plays with some serious grit. He’s not afraid to take a hit when he tucks and runs to gain a few more yards. He isn’t afraid to make tough throws, and he has a huge arm. Bill has been known to like this prototype of QB, drafting Ryan Mallett in the past. There’s a good chance he’s off the board much earlier, but if he lasts then they should snag him. Otherwise I’d rather them wait for a dark horse 5th round QB if they draft one.
Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
This is a need that the Patriots have on the defense right now. The D-line is decent and the secondary is stacked. All they have at linebacker is an older Dont’a Hightower and a lot of unproven talent. Murray is a sideline to sideline athletic linebacker, similar to what Bill likes to have (Jamie Collins, Jonathan Freeny). He can be inconsistent and get caught out of position trying to make a play, but if he is coachable there is nobody better to coach him into the next freak linebacker like Bill Belichick.
Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
As we know, the Patriots like to take best available and not always draft according to need. Alabama safeties have a legit pedigree in recent years (Landon Collins, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Eddie Jackson, HaHa Clinton-Dix). Although the Pats still have Devin McCourty and Pat Chung, Bill would love to groom McCourty’s relpacement. McKinney is a high IQ player who has potential to be a legit centerfield safety like D-Mac. He’s also known for being tough and not afraid to stick his nose in and help out in the run game. They like to run three safety sets anyway as they have with Duron Harmon over the past few years, and McKinney would be an easy fill in.
Josh Jones, T, Houston
This might be a need that most fans haven’t thought about. Marcus Cannon went back to his old job at Six Flags as a turnstile last season. Isaiah Wynn was decent, but still has not been able to stay healthy and is wildly undersized compared to most left tackles in the league. Jones is a beast as a run blocker, which might be a part of the offense that the Pats need to fall back on with so much uncertainty at QB. He is very raw, which would be perfect if Dante Scarnecchia were still around. They can still work with him, and maybe give him a year to develop into Stidham’s blindside protector.
Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
Many people have been critical of Bill’s drafting of wide receivers in the past. He can really start to load up on young talent to grow with Jarrett Stidham with this pick though. Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb will go way too early, and Henry Ruggs might fall in line with all the other fast 40 time guys. Jefferson was a legit talent that helped Joe Burrow come out of the woodwork last season. He can play both outside and in the slot, and has decent speed to be that perfect intermediate type receiver. He has a freakish catch radius, just in case Stidham has some struggles. Best of all, he can help make up for errand passes. With N’Keal Harry as an outside physical specimen and Julian Edelman underneath in the slot, he would be that Brandon LaFell type guy. But, he’d be like LaFell over the long term, which they have consistently lacked.
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-Jake Kobierski (@TheRealKobe83)