New England Patriots' 2019 draft: Analysis for every pick

NFL draft profile: N'Keal Harry (0:58)

N'Keal Harry is a wide receiver who was first-team All-Pac-12 in both his sophomore and junior seasons at Arizona State. (0:58)

Breaking down the New England Patriots' class in the 2019 NFL draft.

Round 1, No. 32 overall: N'Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State

My take: Wide receiver was rated as the Patriots' No. 1 need, and Harry will be counted on to play a significant part in addressing that. Considering that he was just the second receiver taken in the draft, behind Oklahoma's Marquise Brown, it speaks to how highly New England viewed him among this year's crop of pass-catchers. The Patriots took him over Mississippi's A.J. Brown and DK Metcalf, Ohio State's Parris Campbell and South Carolina's Deebo Samuel -- all of whom were rated higher by several media-based scouting reports. Entering the draft, it was mentioned that if there was one storyline that trumped all others, it was how the Patriots needed help at receiver, yet their history drafting early at the position hasn't produced consistent results. That's part of what makes this an intriguing pick.

A bigger WR with notable ball skills: Director of player personnel Nick Caserio said the 6-foot-2, 228-pound Harry has notable physical attributes, before saying, "One of the things he does well is play the ball in the air. I'd say the coverage in this league is tight, regardless of the type of player or receiver you are. So you're going to have to make some plays in some tight quarters. The windows are smaller, the catches are going to be more contested, so if a player has the ability to do that, that's one of his strengths."

A first under Belichick: The Patriots had never selected a receiver in the first round under coach Bill Belichick (2000-19), although they did trade up for Chad Jackson in the second round (No. 36) in 2006. Still, this pick breaks new ground for the franchise under Belichick. The last time they took a receiver in the first round was 1996, with Terry Glenn.


NFL draft profile: Joejuan Williams

Vanderbilt cornerback Joejuan Williams is strong with good balance, and he does an above-average job of rerouting receivers.

Round 2, No. 45 overall: Joejuan Williams, CB, Vanderbilt

My take: The Patriots traded up from No. 56 to 45 in the second round to make the pick, which shows how much they coveted Williams. To move up 11 spots, the Patriots traded the 101st overall pick (third round), which they had received as a compensatory choice for the departure of cornerback Malcolm Butler. Williams' physical makeup stands out, as he is 6-foot-3 5/8 and 211 pounds, and has above average length at the position. He could have the chance to develop behind the scenes as the depth chart is loaded in 2019 with Stephon Gilmore, Jason McCourty, Jonathan Jones, J.C. Jackson, Duke Dawson and Keion Crossen. So this is a case of how the Patriots aren't always thinking of the short-term picture when making their picks. Williams has the potential to be a top corner in the future, but might have trouble breaking through in a front-line role as a rookie if everyone is healthy and playing to their potential.

Help in matchup game: Williams' uncommon size at the position could also be tapped in specific game-plans when it comes to matching up against tight ends. In the AFC Championship Game against the Chiefs, for example, the club tapped cornerback Gilmore at times against tight end Travis Kelce. This is a point Bill Belichick made recently, noting how every team presents different matchup challenges, which in turn requires different types of chess pieces to match it.


NFL draft profile: Chase Winovich

Chase Winovich is an undersized but twitchy RDE/OLB prospect out of Michigan with shorter arms and solid top-end speed.

Round 3, No. 77 overall: Chase Winovich, LB, Michigan

My take: The 6-foot-2 6/8 and 256-pound Winovich is a high-motor edge player who projects to help fill the void created by Trey Flowers' free-agent departure. One thing that stood out about his play in college was disruption, as he had 34.5 tackles for a loss and 13.5 sacks the past two seasons. In addition, Winovich runs well enough (4.59 in the 40-yard dash) to potentially factor into the special-teams mix. A big personality at Michigan, he could be the 2019 Patriots version of Rob Gronkowski in a sense.

DE depth chart: Michael Bennett, Deatrich Wise Jr., Derek Rivers, Keionta Davis, Winovich, Ufomba Kamalu, Trent Harris. This is a big year for Rivers, the 2017 third-round pick from Youngstown State who has yet to emerge, and Winovich adds another layer to the depth chart at a position that was rated as a No. 5 need entering the draft.


NFL draft profile: Damien Harris

Damien Harris out of Alabama is a strong and competitive runner, has good size and good burst through the hole.

Round 3, No. 87 overall: Damien Harris, RB, Alabama

My take: Running back isn't a top need for the Patriots, but this looks like a case where the value of the player led the team in his direction at this point in the draft. The 5-foot-10, 216-pound Harris was productive at Alabama, totaling 476 rushes for 3,073 yards (6.5 avg.) with 23 touchdowns, and was a team captain who was considered a strong locker-room presence. Add in his contributions on special teams (e.g. blocked punt in 2017) and the picture comes into focus as to why he would appeal to the Patriots. Harris graduated with his degree in December and obviously came highly recommended by Nick Saban, one of Bill Belichick's closest friends in the business.

RB depth chart: Sony Michel, James White, Rex Burkhead, Harris, Brandon Bolden. All five currently project to make the roster, as this is one of the strongest positions on the roster from top to bottom. Given the possibility of injuries at the position, the Patriots are well covered insurance-wise.


NFL draft profile: Yodny Cajuste

Yodny Cajuste from West Virginia has a wide frame and is strong enough to wall off defenders in the run game.

Round 3, No. 101 overall: Yodny Cajuste, OT, West Virginia

My take: Swing offensive tackle was rated as the team's No. 3 need and the 6-foot-4 7/8 and 312-pound Cajuste is a top candidate to fill it. The Patriots have had success drafting and developing offensive linemen under respected line coach Dante Scarnecchia, so his presence adds a layer of confidence to any selection because it surely comes with his recommendation. However, Cajuste's injury history bears watching, as he is coming off pre-draft surgery on his quad and he has battled multiple knee injuries prior to that.

OT depth chart: Isaiah Wynn (LT/LG), Marcus Cannon (RT), Cajuste (LT/RT), Cole Croston, Cedrick Lang, Dan Skipper, Ryker Mathews.

What's next: The Patriots have three fourth-round picks (118, 133, 134) and four seventh-rounders (239, 243, 246, 252) on Saturday's third day. They haven't addressed tight end and quarterback to this point, which were rated as higher needs entering the draft.

Round 4, No. 118 overall: Hjalte Froholdt, C/G, Arkansas

My take: The Patriots had solid background on Froholdt because he was recruited to Arkansas by Bret Bielema, and then played for Bielema, who is now in his second season on New England's staff. Froholdt's first name is pronounced YELL-duh, and he will provide future insurance with starting left guard Joe Thuney entering the final year of his contract in 2019. Also, top center/guard backup Ted Karras is in the final year of his contract. This will increase the competition along the interior of the offensive line, which was rated as the team's No. 6 need entering the draft.


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Round 4, No. 133 overall: Jarrett Stidham, QB, Auburn

My take: Stidham was a pre-draft visitor to the Patriots, along with a handful of other quarterbacks, so he was squarely on the team's radar. Could he be the team's quarterback of the future? Given that the Patriots waited until the 133rd overall pick to select him, it's a wait-and-see type of situation and expectations should be tempered. As for the position snapshot, Tom Brady hopes to play until he's 45 years old, and the Patriots obviously hope he does. So the 6-foot-2 3/8 and 218-pound Stidham will initially compete for a backup role in 2019 with veteran Brian Hoyer (who enters the last year of his contract) and second-year man Danny Etling (2018 seventh-round pick from LSU). In years when the Patriots have drafted a quarterback in the early to middle rounds, they haven't hesitated to keep three on the initial 53-man roster.


NFL draft profile: Byron Cowart

Byron Cowart is a former five-star prospect who had modest production playing defensive tackle at Maryland. Cowart possesses size, length and power at the point of attack.

Round 5, No. 159 overall: Byron Cowart, DT, Maryland

My take: The 6-foot-3, 298-pound Cowart appears to have some scheme versatility, with the possibility to play some different techniques, which is ideal for the Patriots' multiple scheme. He could be viewed as a "traits" pick in the sense that his physical makeup is NFL-ready, but his production hasn't necessarily matched it. He was once the top high school recruit in the country. So the projection is that the Patriots can harness those traits and bring out the best in Cowart. With Lawrence Guy, Mike Pennel, Adam Butler, Frank Herron and David Parry on the interior DT depth chart, Cowart is a developmental prospect who will vie for a back-end roster spot or possibly land on the practice squad.

Round 5, No. 163 overall: Jake Bailey, P, Stanford

My take: Incumbent Ryan Allen only signed a one-year deal as a free agent this offseason, so the possibility that the Patriots would draft a challenger/potential replacement was real. This is the spot the Patriots have traditionally drafted specialists, with coverage whiz Matthew Slater (2008), punter Zoltan Mesko (2010) and long snapper Joe Cardona (2015) all picked in the fifth round. A player selected at this point in the draft is no lock for a roster spot, so the club has viewed specialists as a solid value in this area. Bailey has a big leg, and unlike most punters in Bill Belichick's tenure, is right-footed. The team traded a late seventh-rounder (No. 246) to move up four spots to select him, ensuring another punter-needy team wouldn't jump ahead of them, which is a small price to pay for a player who could be a long-term answer at punter.

Round 7, No. 252 overall: Ken Webster, CB, Mississippi

My take: This pick is similar to how the Patriots selected Western Carolina CB Keion Crossen late in the 2018 seventh round based on some unique athletic traits. The 5-foot-10 7/8 and 203-pound Webster ran a 4.43 time in the 40-yard dash and had a 43-inch vertical jump, which is off the charts. Webster missed the 2016 season after tearing ligaments in his knee, and he joins a well-stocked cornerback depth chart. His best chance to earn a roster spot, again similar to Crossen, likely will be tied to special teams).