Here are three draft prospects who the Patriots should target with their 2021 first-round pick.
With over a month remaining in the regular season and their playoff odds increasing ever so slightly following Sunday’s win over Arizona, the New England Patriots still have plenty to play for in 2020.
After all, their schedule — though it’s far from a cake walk — isn’t exactly a gauntlet, and they have sneakily been at their best this season against teams with winning records. Spoiler alert: three of the Patriots’ five remaining opponents (the Rams, Dolphins and Bills) are currently sitting comfortably above the .500 mark.
At the same time, however, we wouldn’t fault fans who are already looking ahead to the offseason, which is shaping up to be the busiest for the Patriots in several years. We fully expect them to be major players in free agency as well as a pioneer on the trade front to fill positions of need, like defensive end, given the lack of captivating options available on the open market.
What isn’t accomplished through free agency and trades at the start of the offseason, however, will most definitely be addressed during the 2021 Draft, which is absolutely filled to the brim with elite talent.
We don’t hate the idea of the Patriots pouncing on a quarterback, but we seriously doubt that they are looking to develop a rookie given that they will likely return to contender status after putting a large chunk of their projected $69 million salary cap space to use.
With that in mind, here are three ideal prospects who the Patriots should target in the first-round next April.
3. DeVonta Smith
Alabama WR DeVonta Smith is destined for stardom at the NFL level.
At this point, Patriots fans are on their knees begging the franchise to completely overhaul the wide receiver position in the offseason. Outside of breakout star Jakobi Meyers, who deserves to be featured heavily in 2021 and beyond, everybody else on the depth chart should be considered expendable.
That includes veteran Julian Edelman, who is far too prone to injury and drops at this point in his career to play a prominent role in the offense. We might be getting greedy here, but the Patriots shouldn’t stop upgrading at WR even after they presumably make a free agency splash (Allen Robinson, please and thank you).
Most of the best teams in the NFL have two or three game-breaking wideouts and it’s about time that the Patriots break out of their shell and embrace this philosophy, which emphasizes speed an downfield passing. Targeting Alabama superstar DeVonta Smith, who has absolutely terrorized the SEC across his esteemed collegiate career, would go a long way in terms of guiding that transition.
On top of setting countless school records, which speak volumes given how many elite receivers have passed through the program, he currently ranks in the top three in the nation in receptions (72), yards (1,074) and touchdowns (12).
Smith is widely regarded as one of the most complete WRs in the 2021 class, and his home run ability, though he’s far from a one-trick pony, would change the entire dynamic of the Patriots’ largely one-dimensional offense. We need the Crimson Tide star in Foxborough next season.