The New England Patriots could use some pass-rushing help in the 2020 NFL Draft, and Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller suggests EDGE Yetur Gross-Matos will be the pick in Round 1.
It’s impossible to totally know what New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick wants to do with the team’s first pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
After losing quarterback Tom Brady in free agency to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, one can include the Pats as another team possibly looking at a franchise-piece signal-caller in this year’s draft. But that’s only if Belichick is convinced second-year pro Jarrett Stidham isn’t the answer under center for the foreseeable future.
Instead, Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller thinks New England will address pass-rushing needs, selecting Penn State EDGE Yetur Gross-Matos at No. 23 overall:
"At No. 23 overall, there could be pressure to draft a quarterback of the future, but word around the league is that the Patriots like 2019 fourth-rounder Jarrett Stidham and believe he can be the answer for life after Brady. If that’s the case, plugging holes on defense will help Bill Belichick get back to his roots as a head coach.Yetur Gross-Matos is an impressive person and player. He has the size (6’5”, 266 lbs) to play 4-3 defensive end right out of the gate and will remind fans of Trey Flowers with his mixture of power and quickness. He’s also just scratching the surface of what he can be down the road with good coaching—something he’ll get plenty of in New England."
The idea of the former Nittany Lion comparing to Flowers is intriguing, yes. But Gross-Matos still has a lot of rawness to his game.
That’ll take some time to coach up, as he’ll be dealing with a lot tougher blockers at the pro level and won’t be able to rely sheerly on his red-hot motor and long-limbed frame. There’s also some room to grow into that frame, too.
If he does, however, Gross-Matos could put all the pieces together to emerge as one of the league’s better up-and-coming pass-rush prospects.
Last year, the Patriots required a lot of schemed pressure, often relying on stunts and blitzes to get to opponents’ quarterbacks. That worked well enough. But after losing key defenders like EDGE Kyle Van Noy to free agency, finding someone to bolster a regular four-man pass rush would do a lot of good, freeing up would-be blitzers to handle coverage duties.
One of the bonuses of going with Gross-Matos in Round 1 is there isn’t a deep cast of pass-rushing EDGEs in this year’s class. New England has other needs outside of quarterback, most notably among the pass-catching positions like wide receiver and tight end. As far as wideouts go, this year’s class is as deep as has been in a long time, meaning Belichick can look to solve those shortages with one or more of his multitude of picks on days two and three.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see this be the route taken, particularly in the first round as Belichick looks to reinforce a still-good defense heading into 2020.
Round 1 of this year’s NFL Draft kicks off on Thursday, April 23.