The New England Patriots added another linebacker prospect to their mix in 2020, selecting Cassh Maluia at the tail-end of the sixth round.
The New England Patriots selected Cassh Maluia with the No. 204 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Maluia helps fill an obvious need at a place on the Patriots roster that has been decimated this offseason through free agency. 2019 starters Kyle Van Noy (Dolphins) and Jamie Collins (Lions) are no longer on the team, leaving behind them a whole wealth of production and stats.
Some of that production will hopefully be shouldered by incumbent Patriots like Dont’a Hightower, Ja’Whaun Bentley, John Simon, and Chase Winovich.
But New England’s decision to draft several linebackers in Rounds 2-6 of this three-day event speaks volumes to how much Bill Belichick realizes he needs to address linebacker in 2020.
The Patriots first selected outside linebackers Josh Uche (second round) and Anfernee Jennings (third round) on Friday. While Uche projects as more of a Van Noy-type who can play defensive end and rush the passer, Jennings is considered more of a traditional run-stopper and edge-setter like former Patriot Rob Ninkovich.
On Day 3, New England further strengthened the linebacking corps by selecting Maluia in the sixth round. He’s the first Wyoming Cowboy drafted in the Bill Belichick era.
Here’s the ESPN draft profile on him, courtesy of Steve Muench:
Maluia, a three-year starter, has very good speed. He’s a rangy run defender who closes well in pursuit. He reads the quarterback and flashes above-average ball skills in underneath coverage. He has the potential to develop into a valuable special teams contributor. He’s slightly undersized.
At 6’0 and 248 lbs, Maluia is indeed slightly undersized. We’ll see how well his game translates to the pros and whether he can make this team given his physical shortcomings.
For the Patriots, they have just one draft pick left — No. 230 overall in the middle of the seventh round. Assuming they use it, their full 2020 draft class will be nine players deep. New England could still use help at quarterback, wide receiver, and nose tackle.