Louisville's Jackson may pique Pats' interest

Louisville's Jackson may pique Pats' interest

After months of speculation, the 2018 NFL Draft is almost here. On Thursday night, the Patriots will have a legitimate chance to beef up their team for this season and beyond. With four picks in the first two rounds, this is an important weekend for Bill Belichick and his staff.

During this offseason of drama surrounding Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots seem to be teetering on the edge of uncertainty. Is the dynasty coming to an end? Are players still mad that Malcolm Butler didn’t play in Super Bowl LII?

The only thing that’ll truly stop speculation is winning. The Patriots have a roster that ready to win right now. They have a chance this weekend to set themselves up for the foreseeable future. The Patriots have a golden opportunity in front of them to right the ship with this draft. Here’s a look at what they could do:

First round, pick 23: Lamar Jackson, quarterback, Louisville

The Patriots need an heir to Brady’s thrown. Jackson would be unconventional, but he is an elite playmaker who comes from a pro style offense in Louisville. Accuracy is an issue, but he threw for 3,660 yards and ran for 1,601 yards last season. The 2016 Heisman Trophy winner, Jackson had a pre-draft visit with the Patriots and Nick Caserio went to his Pro Day.

First round, pick 31: Connor Williams, tackle, Texas

At 6-foot-5, Williams is undersized for your typical tackle so it’s possible he ends up at guard. Either way, the Patriots would be getting a good player and locker room leader. He started the last two seasons at left tackle so maybe he replaces Nate Solder. If he ends up at guard, he could replace Shaq Mason, who’s a free agent in 2019. Williams had a pre-draft visit with the Patriots.

Second round, pick 43: Ronnie Harrison, safety, Alabama

Harrison is a hard-hitting safety with loads of experience who can play strong or free safety. Second-team All-SEC in 2017, he led Alabama with 74 tackles to go with 2.5 sacks and three interceptions. He’s solid against the run and pass. He also excels on special teams. Harrison met with the Patriots at the Combine, had a private workout and Belichick went to his Pro Day.

Second round, pick 63: Lorenzo Carter, edge rusher, Georgia

At 6-foot-6, Carter has outstanding length. He’s raw, but has a ton of potential. He would likely play outside linebacker and learn behind Dont’a Hightower. At Georgia, he made 14 sacks in four seasons. Last year, he had 62 tackles, 4.5 sacks and three forced fumbles. He was named to the second-team All-SEC. Belichick was at his Pro Day.

Third round, pick 95: Jaylen Samuels, tight end/running back, N.C State

Samuels played tight end, running back and fullback in college. As an all-purpose offensive weapon, he was extremely productive at N.C. State. Last year, he caught 75 passes for 593 yards and four touchdowns. He also ran for 407 yards and scored 12 rushing touchdowns. He also has special teams experience. Samuels met with the Pats at the Senior Bowl. Belichick was at his Pro Day.

Sixth round, pick 198: Josey Jewell, linebacker, Iowa

Jewell is the first three-time captain under Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz. An inside linebacker, he was a first-team All-American and first-team All-Big Ten after finishing with 134 tackles, 4.5 sacks, two interceptions and 11 pass deflections. One of three Iowa players to record over 115 tackles in three different seasons. Jewell met with the Patriots after his Pro Day.

Sixth round, pick 210: D.J. Reed, cornerback, Kansas State

At 5-foot-9, Reed profiles as a slot cornerback. He led the Big-12 with 19 pass defenses as a junior in 2016. Last year, he was first-team All-Big 12 as both a cornerback (four interceptions, nine breakups) and returner (two touchdowns). He averaged 34.2 yards per kickoff return and 14.9 yards per punt returner. Reed had a private workout with the Patriots.

Seventh round, pick 219: Chad Kanoff, quarterback, Princeton

The Patriots might as well double-dip at quarterback. Kanoff was extremely productive at Princeton, setting Ivy League records with a 73.2 single-season completion percentage and 3,474 passing yards last year. The 6-foot-4 quarterback originally committed to Vanderbilt before switching to Princeton. Patriots went to his Pro Day and then assistant quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski worked him out.

Published at Wed, 25 Apr 2018 20:53:07 +0000