1. Devin Lloyd
Then, there was Devin Lloyd out of Utah, one of the most-mocked linebackers to the Patriots who was readily available at 27.
The Jacksonville Jaguars were acutely aware of that fact, trading back into the first round to leapfrog New England and add him to their swarming defense.
Was this Belichick’s initial intention at 29? Did the Jaguars jump ahead of New England for good reason? Or did they just see talent slipping, while Belichick was content to go in a far stranger direction?
Turns out, the grand debate over whether the Patriots should opt for Lloyd over Nakobe Dean was a red herring. Bizarrely, Dean is still on the board, and the Pats could even trade up in the second round to make some magic happen, if they so desire.
That’s not how this franchise operates, though, an ethos underscored once again when they went off everyone’s board (except Nike the Dog’s) and chose a project for the offensive line rather than reinforce the defense in any capacity.
Perhaps Belichick isn’t a believer in this roster, as constructed, and decided to make Mac Jones’ Year 2 a link in a much longer chain instead of a leap forward. But Lloyd, who can be a versatile off-ball linebacker and can mimic an EDGE, earned the Jaguars universal praise at 27. The Jaguars!
The Patriots? They earned nothing but befuddlement, and they worked HARD for that befuddlement, dammit! Even among projected Patriots reaches, this was an unforeseen reach.
Need hope? A similar head-scratcher worked for the Boston Red Sox just two years ago, when they selected unknown infielder Nick Yorke in the first round, only to watch him fulfill the promise they’d imagined almost immediately. But the Red Sox aren’t managed by a 70+-year-old legend who might decide to leave the day-to-day grind any minute now. Every Patriots season is precious, and this one is off to a wild start.