After drafting Arizona State Wide Reciever N’Keal Harry with the 32nd pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots entered Day Two with the intention of drafting for both value and need. The defending Super Bowl Champions did not disappoint, thus continuing a stellar draft to this point.
Without further ado, here is a look at the newest New England Patriots:
JoeJuan Williams, Cornerback, Vanderbilt
With the 45th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots selected Vanderbilt cornerback JoeJuan Williams. The sizable corner was a player the Pats had long coveted during the pre-draft process. Though the team was originally set to pick at No. 56 overall in the second round, New England traded up with the Los Angeles Rams to secure the pick. In the process, they surrendered the No. 56 overall pick and their No. 101 selection to take Williams at No. 45.
Williams has rare size for the position standing 6-foot-4, 211 pounds. He is the tallest cornerback selected by the Pats in the Bill Belichick era. In fact, Belichick that noted size at the cornerback position could be a need for the Patriots, during his previous week’s pre-draft press conference. When taking under account the growing size of pass catchers in the league, Williams’ selection provides New England with a big, tough corner to potentially pair with Stephon Gilmore. On top of having rare size for the position, Williams also just wrapped up a productive career in the SEC with Vandy. He finished his junior season with 61 total tackles, four interceptions and 13 passes defended. At the NFL Combine, he ran a 4.64 second 40-yard dash and put up 17 reps on the bench press.
Chase Winovich, DE, Michigan
Winovich is skilled RDE/OLB prospect with solid, top-end speed. While a bit undersized for his position, his outstanding technique and excellent hand quickness might potentially make him a steal for the Pats in the third round. Winovich is an innovative pass-rusher, as well as an active run-defender. His elite speed, and engine-like reliability will allow him to play in pursuit on the edge of the field.
Although the Patriots signed Michael Bennett this offseason, Trey Flowers and Adrian Clayborn departed via free agency. New England had only 30 sacks last year (tied for second fewest in the NFL) and Winovich should give that pass rush an immediate boost. On a side note, Winovich takes a larger-than-life persona to New England, with the potential to be an immediate fan favorite in Foxboro.
Damien Harris, RB, Alabama
While some might raise an eyebrow at Harris’ selection at 87, this is both a great-value and positional need for the Patriots. Harris is a strong and competitive runner, with good size. He is decisive with outstanding vision and good burst through the hole. Harris shows good contact balance in space, with reliable hands, as well. Harris’ best chance to make an immediate impact on the Pats’ offense is as a strong pass-blocker.
Even though the running back position is considered an area of strengths for New England, it was also a position with which they struggled in health and injury. Harris provides depth, as well as the ability to contribute, when and if he is needed to do so.
Yodny Cajuste, OT, West Virginia
Acquiring Cajuste at 101 might be an example of the rich getting richer in the most unlikely of scenarios. Cajuste had been widely projected as a second-round choice in the 2019 draft. Some had even touted him as having first-round talent. However, he ends up in New England to provide great depth to the offensive line. As noted by ESPN’s Steve Muench, Cajuste has a wide frame, above-average initial quickness and good overall athletic ability. He’s quick enough to get into position and strong enough to wall off defenders in the running game. He has average length for a tackle, and he gives up the edge at times. He might be a better fit on the inside as a result.
The Patriots offensive line was highly praised for their production in 2018. However, Trent Brown signed with Oakland and a torn Achilles sidelined 2018 first-round pick Isaiah Wynn for his entire rookie season. Cajuste will likely need a year of development before earning a starting job with the Pats. While he might be a better fit at guard than tackle where he played in college,offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia is the right man to maximize Cajuste’s talent.
–Mike D’Abate is a Managing Editor and National Columnist for Full Press Coverage Sports Media. He covers the New England Patriots and provides NFL editorial content. Follow him on Twitter @mdabateFPC