The New England Patriots may not always make popular decisions during the NFL Draft. However, one thing is always certain. They will always do what is best for the football team.
Just one day removed from deciding to trade their only first round selection (23) to the Los Angeles Chargers in exchange for the 37th and 71st picks, the Patriots went to the trade well once again on Friday evening. At the start of Day Two, the Patriots possessed five selections (37, 71, 87, 98, 100.) At the conclusion of the night, New England had indeed made five selections, yet the order had shuffled just a bit.
Here is a look at the Patriots Second and Third Round Selections in the 2020 NFL Draft:
Round Two, Selection 37: Kyle Dugger, S, Lenoir-Rhyne
While this selection was less than popular among the New England fan base, it has the potential to pay dividends. Dugger brings an excellent blend of speed, length, size to Foxboro. He is able to cover a lot of ground and has the tools to match up with tight ends in coverage. Dugger a good tackler capable of making stops in key situations. Most importantly, he is a playmaker. Dugger intercepted ten passes and returned six punts for touchdowns at Lenore-Rhyne.
Duggar also fills a need at the position. With Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung each turning 33 in August, Dugger immediately infuses youth into the safety position. Having traded safety Duron Harmon to the Detroit Lions, the Patriots will ensure that Duggar see time alongside new acquisition Adrian Phillips. As a result, the Pats may continue to play three safeties, with Dugger likely to see time as a hybrid linebacker.
Round Two, Selection 60: Joshua Uche, EDGE, Michigan
Uche might be one of the most underrated pass rushers in the 2020 NFL Draft. The Michigan product is an undersized edge defender with long arms and the skill set to make an immediate impact rushing the passer. He has a good combination of initial quickness, bend and closing speed.
The Patriots had success in rushing the passer in 2019. However their two most prolific pass rushers, Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins, (ranked first and third in pressures respectively) have bid farewell to Foxboro. Uche fits the classic Patriots profile. He is well-coached, disciplined and will project best as an outside rusher and interior blitzer. Uche has the potential of creating a formidable pass-rush tandem with fellow Michigan alum, Chase Winovich.
Round Three, Selection 87: Anfernee Jennings, EDGE, Alabama
Jennings is a stout run-defender who sets the edge and is an adept tackler. He is an average pass-rusher, but he has an underrated combination of quickness, change-of-direction ability, power and instincts. Perhaps Jennings’ most prominent strength is his toughness and tenacity.
Again, with the departures of Van Noy and Collins, edge defenders are at a premium in New England. Jennings could work his way into the rotation given his experience. A significant knee injury in 2018 lessened his athleticism some. Therefore, the Patriots will need to monitor that closely. All in all, he is a strong edge defender who plays his assignment; which should earn him quick praise from Bill Belichick and the Patriots defensive coaching staff.
Round Three, Selection 91: Devin Asiasi, TE, UCLA
The Patriots clearly needed help at the tight end position, and they have likely found a contributor in Devin Asiasi. The former UCLA Bruin has a good blend of size, speed and length. He displays impressive athleticism and shows some upside as a route runner. He’s a natural hands catcher with above-average body control.
New England tight ends combined for a league-low 37 catches and tied for last with two touchdowns last season. The Pats clearly have significant expectations for Asiasi, as they used valued draft capital to obtain his services. In fact, they have not drafted a tight end earlier than the fifth round since they selected Rob Gronkowski in the second round in 2010. Asiasi enters New England with the potential of being the Patriots primary option at the tight end position.
Round Three, Selection 101: Dalton Keene, TE, Virginia Tech
With Dayton’s Adam Trautman still available at the time of the selection, the Pats opted for Virginia Tech tight end Dalton Keene. Keene is versatile enough to line up in-line, in the slot and in the backfield. He can move about the field and runs hard after the catch. He has yet to become a big-play threat, and could use some improvement in his route running. However, his stellar performance at the Combine indicates that he has the tools to improve in both areas.
-Mike D’Abate is a Managing Editor and Columnist for Full Press Coverage. He covers the New England Patriots and provides NFL editorial content. He is also the host of the Locked On Patriots podcast. Follow him on Twitter @mdabateFPC