Patriots Draft Targets: Safeties
Last night we saw the Patriots trade out of the first round in frustrating, but predictable fashion. A lot of the players that I'd normally preview are now gone off the board so each write up today will obviously only feature players that can be taken tonight once Round 2 kicks off at 7 pm. I'll be locked in again as it should be a busy night for New England (with 5 picks between Rounds 2 and 3) and it's time for Bill Belichick to make his chess moves.
As Patriots fans, we're used to the draft playing out this way. The only difference is, the draft feels like it matters more without Tom Brady and with the current state of the roster. There's no margin for error because we simply will not accept it if the Patriots stink. So let's get to it and highlight the guys that we need to be watching for.
Today, we started with linebackers and edge rushers (outside linebackers/defensive ends) and now we're moving on to safeties. In this case, the Pats have current players on the roster that are manning the position, but are getting up there in age (Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung). After they traded away Duron Harmon as well, it makes sense for New England to go out and try to get younger and cheaper here while adding depth that they can develop. Without further ado, it's time to take a look at the candidates.
GUYS THEY "MISSED" ON: No One (Unless You Consider Isaiah Simmons a safety and not a linebacker)
GUYS THEY SHOULD TARGET:
Xavier McKinney - By most accounts, he's the "BEST AVAILABLE" heading into tonight. McKinney could have easily been a first rounder as he's had a great career doing all sorts of things in Nick Saban's Alabama defense. For me, I almost always love the idea of taking an SEC guy just based off the fact that you know you're getting talent and big game experience. McKinney feels like he could be gone before the Patriots get to him though...
Alohi Gilman - Once again, I am stuck with saying I like a Notre Dame player. Ugh. Anyway, Gilman seems to be the safest pick of the bunch. Does that mean he's the right pick? No, but you can probably count on him being a starter in the NFL rather than a standout or a bust. He impressed at the Combine and had an all around game in South Bend throughout his two seasons there. Seems like a decent fit to come in and learn from the vets in New England.
Antoine Winfield - Has a father who played in the NFL, racked up tackles and interceptions for years as a standout at Minnesota, has special teams chops and seems to always be in position to make the right play. Bill Belichick will love him.
Kyle Dugger - I have never before heard of Lenoir-Rhyne, the school that Kyle Dugger played for. However, he's still ranked pretty high by "experts" in large part due to his play at the Senior Bowl. If you're looking for a big hitter at safety, this is your guy. Other upsides are his ability to move to corner if need be, and his punt return game (six career TDs).
Grant Delpit - Another blue-chipper from the SEC! Delpit is still here because his stock has fallen quite considerably. That may be due to injuries that plagued him at LSU or the fact that he's a bit of a wildcard when trying to stop the run or tackle in the open field. Despite being a unanimous 1st Team All-American in 2018, he has some major warts. I'd still take a flyer though.
Safety is going to be a position to probably fly off the board early and often tonight, so this needed to be the blog. Hopefully we'll have some other positions tomorrow that I can cover by digging up some diamonds in the rough for Day 3. Enjoy the draft!
PLAYER THEY SHOULD TAKE: MCKINNEY
PLAYER THEY WILL TAKE: GILMAN (I am very aware that I have the Patriots loading up on ND players. I hate it.)