After hitting a homerun in the first round by picking Christian Gonzalez, expectations were high for the Patriots to continue making the right moves on day two. And although some aren’t thrilled with who they chose, both players are solid additions to an already high-performing defense.
Before the start of the second round, most believed we may see Bill Belichick make a trade-up since they were reportedly making calls to do so in round one.
But in typical Belichick fashion, he went against what most believed and stuck with the two picks the team had slated for the night, despite having the ammo to move up with four fourth-round picks.
The first selection of the night for the Patriots came at pick 46, going with Georgia Tech’s Keion White, an athletic pass-rusher to play alongside Matthew Judon and Josh Uche.
Taking an EDGE defender in the second round wasn’t how most wanted the night to begin, but White brings a physicality and speed that will boost an improving area of the defense.
He also checks the versatility box, as he is a former tight end who only started playing on the defense in 2019, which completely changed his football trajectory. Between two years at Old Dominion and two years at Georgia Tech, he totaled 120 tackles with 33.5 for a loss, 11 sacks, and one interception in 28 games.
Of course, with just four years of experience under his belt, some parts of his game need good coaching. But he’s already proven to be a fast learner, with his former defensive line coach praising him for his constant work to improve.
"“What really sticks out is the fact that he was a guy that valued self-improvement. I never had to push him to get better at this or get better at that. He’s going to ask the right type of questions, and he improved on his own. So that made him pretty easy to coach.”"
The Patriots’ second pick of the evening was a surprise, mainly because they went with another defensive player when their offense appeared to be the weaker side of the team.
With the 76th pick, Sacramento State’s Marte Mapu was chosen by New England, a unique hybrid linebacker/safety that NFL draft expert Daniel Jeremiah revealed as his favorite player of the entire draft.
Because of Devin McCourty’s offseason retirement, it’s no surprise that Belichick would draft a safety.
What makes Mapu more intriguing, however, is his size is more conducive to playing linebacker in the NFL, a versatility factor that is a loved trait in New England.
Plus, he was announced as a linebacker when the pick was read, so that may indicate where Belichick plans to use him.
Regardless if he’s lined up in the secondary or around the line of scrimmage, Mapu’s athleticism and size give the Patriots another Kyle Dugger-like player to use all around the field, especially helping to deal with the more mobile quarterbacks in the league.
So even though Patriots’ fans were hoping for other players, White and Mapu are the definition of Patriots type players that can be immediate impact players to an already stout defense.