Patriots Draft Preview: Day 3 could see an edge rusher selected

A look at some defensive edge rush prospects the Patriots might have their eyes on in the 2024 NFL Draft.
Philadelphia Eagles v New England Patriots
Philadelphia Eagles v New England Patriots / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

The Patriots' defense was its biggest strength in 2023 and helped reduce the impact of inconsistency in other areas. Many defensive players, including multiple edge rushers, are in the last year of their contracts.

This year's draft presents an opportunity to strengthen the team's defense by selecting a skilled edge rusher in the later rounds. To maintain the team's defensive strength and set the stage for future success.

Three edge players, Matthew Judon, Jahlani Tavai, and Josh Uche, are approaching the end of their contracts. The team may have to pay a lot to keep them all. Judon is the only player selected for the Pro Bowl in the past two seasons.

Tavai was named the team MVP (Tom Brady Award) in 2023 and played the 2nd most snaps on the team. Only Kyle Dugger played more snaps last season. Uche hopes to have a great season and secure a big contract. The latest rumors have the Patriots shopping Judon in a trade.

Given the team's' offensive needs, they will unlikely make significant defense investments during the draft. There may still be exciting prospects available later on.

5 late-round draft prospects who can be valuable to the Patriots

 Gabriel Murphy [UCLA]: A projected 4th or 5th round talent

UCLA's Gabriel Murphy is an impressive all-around athlete with agility, speed, and good change-of-direction abilities, giving him the potential to be an effective pass-rusher in the NFL. He shows exceptional first-step quickness, which keeps blockers off balance.

Murphy's primary pass-rushing techniques are a solid arm-over move and cross-chop Euro. He has a high motor and relentless pursuit, often securing coverage sacks by continuously engaging through plays. His first step and quick disengagement tactics in the run game illustrate his potential to impact games beyond the pass rush.

Mohamed Kamara [Colorado State]: A projected 4th round player

Mohamed Kamara is an explosive pass rusher with remarkable athleticism and technical prowess, as demonstrated by his outstanding performance at the NFL Combine, where he clocked a 4.57-second 40-yard dash. He has been highly productive over the last three seasons at Colorado State, recording 28 sacks while rushing from various positions.

Although he is slightly undersized at 6'1 and 248 lbs, he compensates for it with his ability to convert speed to power, aggressive hand-fighting technique, and an unwavering work ethic. He is a versatile edge threat who can contribute immediately, even in a rotational role.

Mekhi Wingo [LSU]: A projected 4th or 5th round selection

Mekhi Wingo played defensive tackle in college and could be an excellent fit for the Patriots at defensive end at 6'1" and 295 pounds. He possesses an incredibly high motor that never gives up, impressive strength, and natural leverage at the point of attack, which allows him to stand his ground against one-on-one blocks against the run.

He also boasts a 4.85-second 40-yard dash time, solid quickness, and strong hands that he uses to shed blocks.

Austin Booker (Kansas) Projected 3rd - 4th round 

He has an explosive first step and moves well, significantly enhancing his pass-rush efficiency. He effectively utilizes his long arms and impressive wingspan to disturb offensive linemen. He possesses a wide range of pass-rush moves, demonstrating his versatility on the field.

He exhibits solid bend and leverage in his pass rush, enabling him to overcome blockers using finesse and power.

Javontae Jean Baptiste (Notre Dame) Projected 6th-7th round.

Baptiste would be an excellent addition as a standup outside linebacker. Jean-Baptiste has a deadly spin move and remarkable speed to close in on opponents quickly. He has excellent snap anticipation and timing, which helps him beat blockers off the edge. Moreover, he plays with leverage at the point of attack and uses his strong hands to shed blocks.

While the Patriots' defense is stable, it's always wise to have additional resources to tackle any injuries and to develop young talent in preparation for the possible departure of some defensive players after the 2024 season.

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