For New England Patriots fans, the first night of the draft usually involves a late-night battle to stay awake until the team (finally) makes a pick. This year, similar to 2021, the Patriots find themselves picking earlier in the proceedings than usual at No. 14. On Day 2, they currently hold pick No. 46 in the second round and pick No. 76 in the third round.
Recent history would suggest the organization may draft someone whose name does not necessarily cause a whole lot of fanfare. A name that has not been talked about much in pre-draft analysis.
There is Cole Strange (Rd. 1) last year, Kyle Dugger (Rd. 2) in 2020, or even a pick like Sebastian Vollmer (Rd. 2) back in 2009. You know, the picks that may have caused symptoms such as confusion, disappointment, frustration, boredom, etc, but ended up being one of the better picks for the Patriots in their respective years.
Yes, you may hate the pick when it is announced. But when the player hits the field wearing the Patriots uniform, and has a great impact on the success of the team, you will begin to love the selection they made.
Here are a few players who will likely meet this criteria:
Early round Patriots draft picks you’ll hate now, love later
Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
In the first round, most fans probably have their eyes set on drafting the top cornerbacks like Devon Witherspoon (Illinois) and Christian Gonzalez (Oregon), maybe even Joey Porter Jr. (Penn State). However, Banks could find himself closer to the middle of the first round than people think. The Patriots would most likely take him if they trade down later into the round.
Banks has speed (4.35 sec 40-yard dash) and has top-tier athleticism. He also has great length and size for his position, something New England lacked in coverage on the outside last season. As long as he does not let the moment get in his head, he will be a great player in the NFL.
Tyler Scott, WR, Cincinnati
Same situation as the cornerbacks. Patriots fans may be looking for them to select a top wide receiver like Jaxon Smith-Njibga (Ohio State), Zay Flowers (Boston College), or Jordan Addison (USC). What happens if they use their first round pick on an offensive tackle or cornerback?
Scott could be the receiver New England takes in the second or third round. He is one of the more talented players in the draft with big play ability. Ten of his 14 career touchdowns went for 30-plus yards. If he does not happen to be a big part of the offense early on, his speed and skill set allows for versatility in the way he is utilized (i.e. special teams returner).
Tucker Kraft, TE, South Dakota State
It would feel like a piece to the puzzle is missing if a FCS player was not part of the list. Fans will probably wonder why the Patriots did not take any of the Power 5 talent ahead of him instead, and ask a question like, “Who did he even play against up there?!”
Kraft is viewed as a borderline top five tight end, and a projected third round pick, in this year’s draft. Kraft is a big target (6’ 5”, 250+ lbs) who looks to gain yards after the catch. He also has the ability to adjust and make off-target catches. Run-blocking will benefit him early on as he improves on the minor weaknesses in his route running.
Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina
Blake Freeland, OT, BYU
Cody Mauch, OT, North Dakota State
Will McDonald IV, EDGE, Iowa State
Drew Sanders, LB, Arkansas