New England Patriots: 2016 NFL Draft Do-Over
Round 2, Pick 60: DE Yannick Ngakoue
Original Pick: CB Cyrus Jones
The Jacksonville Jaguars drafted defensive end Yannick Ngakoue with the 69th overall pick in the 2016 draft, nine picks after the Patriots chose cornerback, Cyrus Jones. Following the trade of 2015 team sack leader Chandler Jones, Ngakoue would’ve been a nice addition to New England’s defensive line. The 6-foot-2 pass rusher started 15 games for Jacksonville as a rookie, posting 23 total tackles, two pass deflections, eight sacks, one interception, and four forced fumbles.
According to Pats Pulpit’s Doug Moore (@DMooreNFL), the Patriots “did a ton of research” on Ngakoue leading up to the draft. Ultimately, New England passed on the Maryland product and addressed their secondary instead.
Round 3, Pick 78: G Joe Thuney
Original Pick: Same
Guard Joe Thuney was one of New England’s best picks in the 2016 draft. The Patriots’ offensive line gave up four sacks in the 2015 AFC Championship, costing the team a trip to the Super Bowl and potentially their fifth ring. Following the loss, sharpening the offensive line became New England’s top priority.
As a rookie, Thuney started all 16 games for New England, along with the entire postseason. According to Pro Football Reference, he played 99.6% (1,114 snaps) of the Patriots’ offensive snaps in 2016, along with 81 snaps on special teams. With the addition of Thuney, New England’s offensive line surrendered 24 sacks last season, 14 less than in 2015.
Even with outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins — whom the Patriots had shown interest in ahead of the draft — still available, New England chose to invest in protection for Tom Brady. A smart choice.