The Patriots want to return to the playoffs in 2021. Nailing their first round pick in the NFL Draft is a big priority for New England.
Th first year after Tom Brady’s departure didn’t go according to plan for Bill Belichick and the Patriots. Cam Newton floundered as the team’s new starting quarterback and New England missed the postseason for the first time in years.
Belichick’s offseason priority is crystal clear. He wants to rebuild his roster on the fly to the point where the team can challenge the Bills for AFC East supremacy. That kind of personnel reconstruction won’t be easy, but it would be foolish to bet against the greatest head coach in NFL history.
If New England does want to crash the playoff party in 2021, they need to nail their No. 15 overall pick in Round 1 of April’s draft. Patriots fans should keep a close eye on the following five prospects.
5. Alijah Vera-Tucker
Joe Thuney is poised to depart Foxborough in free agency. That opens up the possibility that the Patriots might try to acquire his long-term replacement in Round 1.
Some scouts view Vera-Tucker as a long-term tackle, but there’s no question he has the size and athleticism required to play inside at guard. In particular, New England would benefit greatly from his ability to be a top-notch run blocker. At least some of the team’s issues at quarterback last year stemmed from their inability to construct a consistent ground game.
Some might view taking Vera-Tucker at 15 as a mild reach, but Belichick is one man who is never afraid to doubt his own evaluation. The larger and more important reason why the Patriots might look elsewhere on Night One of the draft is that they don’t place a ton of value on the guard position. New England could easily opt to fill a more valuable position with their top draft pick.