With no first round draft pick in 2016 due to the Deflategate hysteria, the New England Patriots were licking their chops Thursday night while teams were enamored with potentially elite players, such as Carson Wentz and Ezekiel Elliot. However, the Patriots were still able to get some highly-touted talent in the second and third round.
In the second round, the Patriots were able to land Cyrus Jones, a senior cornerback out of the University of Alabama; Roll Tide. Jones offers the Patriots versatility as a potential nickel cornerback, as well as returning kicks and punts on special teams. Look for Jones to be the #3 cornerback on the New England Patriots to start the 2016 season. To be honest, I don't really see a lot of negatives with Jones aside from his size, but the Patriots will put him in the right situation to succeed. While the Patriots had another pick in the 2nd round, they traded down, per usual.
In the third round, the Patriots selected G/T Joe Thuney out of NC State and his teammate QB Jacoby Brissett. Again, Thuney offers extreme versatility on the offensive line, where he can play guard, tackle and center. While he does have shorter arms and does not have the usual girth of an NFL lineman, Thuney is a solid pick that should be a great project for Dante Scarnecchia. This could be the missing swing tackle that has evaded the Patriots for years.
In arguably the most shocking move of the night, the Patriots selected a quarterback in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft. While this move may come as a surprise to many, think about it; the New England Patriots will only have one active quarterback on their roster for the first four games of the regular season if Tom Brady's suspension is upheld. With no indication that the suspension is going to be overruled again, the Patriots desperately needed another quarterback on the roster. Instead of bringing on a veteran QB, the Patriots decided to potentially draft the quarterback-of-the-future in Jacoby Brissett. Brissett is a large, physical quarterback that has drawn a lot of comparisons to Ben Roethlisberger with his accurate intermediate passes.
Finally, with their final pick in the third round, the Patriots selected DT Vincent Valentine out of the University of Nebraska. With the departures of Dominique Easley, Chris Jones, Akiem Hicks and Sealver Siliga, the Patriots were in the market for an interior defensive tackle, even after acquiring Terrance Knighton. The 6-foot-3 5/8, 329 pound former Cornhusker can be effective and physical in short bursts, but, because of his size, his motor dries out relatively quickly. In order for his talent to translate into the NFL, Valentine will need to change the way he plays.
In Day Three action, the Patriots selected senior WR Malcolm Mitchell out of the University of Georgia. While the Patriots have had trouble drafting and developing wide receivers in the past (Looking at you, Aaron Dobson), Mitchell appears to have the character needed to succeed in the NFL and could be a potential home run threat next year.
Here are the rest of the picks:
Round 6, No.208: Kamu Grugier-Hill, LB, Eastern Illinois
Round 6, No.214: Elandon Roberts, LB, Houston
Round 6, No.221: Ted Karras, G, Illinois
Round 7, No.225: Devin Lucien, WR, Arizona State
Look for the Pats to frequently bring in UDFA, and perhaps make some type of move at running back. Other than that, the Drive For Five has officially begun.