On Thursday, April 23rd, the first round of the NFL Draft will begin in Las Vegas. The New England Patriots will start the process of putting a team together for the 2020 season. All 32 teams have a chance to make their team better or worse. Tough decisions are made during the draft and one good or bad choice can change your franchise for a long time. Bill Belichick and The Patriots 20 years ago made arguably the best decision in NFL history drafting Tom Brady out of Michigan with pick 199 of the 2000 draft. Brady has gone on to be the best quarterback of all time with six Superbowl rings. Decisions just like the one Belichick made in 2000 is what every organization wishes they could do, find that diamond in the ruff. Here are 5 potential options for what the Patriots could do with the 23rd overall pick.
- Justin Jefferson- LSU WR
Jefferson is coming off of winning a National Championship. In that game, Jefferson stepped up with 9 receptions for 106 yards. Justin is 6’1 and can play both in the slot and on the outside with his speed. In 2019, he tallied 111 receptions and caught 18 Touchdowns. According to NFL.com, one of Jefferson’s strengths is “Ridiculous catch radius to help a quarterback out”. Jefferson’s older brother Jordan also had a great career at LSU but didn’t last long in the NFL. Justin cemented his own legacy by bringing the national championship back to Baton Rouge. Leaving after his junior season will be tough for Jefferson but having a chance to be a top 10 receiver taken in the draft is hard to pass up. Young speed and a receiver that can get open is something that the Patriots could’ve used last season. Justin fits that mold and his overall toughness has shown in the biggest moments in games.
- Patrick Queen- LSU LB
Jefferson’s teammate also has shown up in the biggest moments. Patrick Queen was a crucial part of winning the SEC Championship against Georgia. Queen had 6 totals tackles in the game with 4 solo. During the 2019 season, Patrick had 85 totals tackles with 3 sacks. In 2018, he played a smaller role on the LSU defense and had 40 tackles. The New England Patriots linebacker room could use some depth and Queen not only can tackle; he is excellent in coverage. LSU is well known for molding good linebackers and Queen is next in line for making an impact in the NFL.
- Austin Jackson- USC OT
As a whole, the offensive line for the New England Patriots was a mess in 2019. The combination of David Andrews being out the entire season and Isaiah Wynn coming back too late in the season, the offensive line had no sense of continuity. Tom Brady was constantly under pressure and caused the Pats to be one dimensional. Austin Jackson would add depth to a line that is coming off of an injury-riddled season. Jackson is 6’6 and ran the 40-yard dash at 5.07 seconds. That speed and size is hard to come by and could be ideal for Josh McDaniel’s run game this season.
4. Xavier McKinney- Alabama S
What better place to find NFL talent than Alabama, right? With the same culture as New England, all McKinney knows is winning. With an already crowded safety group for the Patriots defense, Xavier could play at the corner spot or also do what Patrick Chung had done for many years, spy on dual-threat QBs or cover tight ends. McKinney more than likely will go earlier in the draft but if he drops a couple of picks, the Patriots would be an excellent spot for him.
- Jordan Love- Utah State QB
This, in my opinion, is the least likely player out of the 5 to get picked by the Pats but to all the experts out there, it makes some sense. The post-Tom Brady era is beginning in New England whether you like it or not. It wasn’t the way anyone wanted it to end but it’s time to move on and start thinking about the 2020 season. Love is a dual-threat QB that has a very good arm. According to NFL.com, one of Jordan’s strengths is “arm strength to dime it into windows”. Jordan struggled in 2019 only completing 31.8 percent of his deep throws. This is something to look out for as QBs like Jake Fromm and Jacob Eason will more than likely be available come pick 23.
–Robert Marcello is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage and covers the New England Patriots. Follow him on Twitter @RobertMarcello5