Xavier McKinney – Alabama DB
McKinney is the highest rated player on the board. I was not sure if he would make it to us at 23, never mind 37. The Alabama Safety is one of the best defensive players in the class. His versatility allows him to match up against any personnel group. McKinney moved around a lot at Alabama as he was asked to play FS, SS, and CB. He should thrive in a Belichick system that requires versatility and excel in a number of roles for this team. If McKinney can slide a few more picks the Patriots could have a steal in round two.
A.J Epenesa – Iowa DE
At 6’5″ 275 LB Epenesa is a dominant pass rusher. He is big enough to play inside and has plenty of experience on the edge. His combine numbers did not do him any favors, but his pass rush ability is undeniable. PFF compares him to Trey Flowers, who was very productive for the Patriots, and I see the resemblance.
Yetur Gross-Matos – Penn State DE
Gross-Matos is one of the best players available and was projected by many to be off the board by now. Unlike most edge rushers, Gross-Matos frequently makes inside moves to blow by opposing offensive tackles. He could excel on the edge or the interior and is one of the premier pass rushers in the class. I would be thrilled to get a player with a first-round grade on day two.
Zack Baun – Wisconsin LB
Baun played a similar role at Wisconsin as T.J. Watt a few years ago. Watt played a little differently with a longer frame, but both players were explosive linebackers. Baun spent a lot of time rushing the passer but has the physical ability to drop back in coverage. He was compared to Kyle Van Noy by Lance Zierlein, and he certainly looks like a potential Patriot to me. Van Noy played an important role in our defense over the last few years and Baun has the makeup to take over that role.
Cole Kmet – Notre Dame TE
Kmet has been a popular name for Patriots fans as he is regarded as the top tight end in the draft class. Having a dynamic tight end on the field wears down a defense and allows McDaniels to execute a better game plan. Kmet is a better pass catcher than run blocker, but he can typically get the job done in the run game. Cole Kmet has good hands and does a great job controlling his body and creating space to make contested catches. He would certainly be an upgrade at a position that may have the biggest void in New England.
Other Names to Look Out For
D’andre Swift Georgia RB
He is the second best player available behind McKinney. We have plenty of pressing needs but it would be hard to not consider Swift at 37. He is a true three-down back that would give McDaniels a fun toy to play with.
Grant Delpit LSU DB
Delpit is the 2019 Jim Thorpe Award winner given to the best defensive back in the country. It appears that this year teams would prefer to take shots on less established corners to beef up their secondary. Delpit is my second safety available behind McKinney.
Jonathan Taylor Wisconsin RB
Again, not the biggest need, but an elite prospect on the board. Taylor is a monster and could be the best goal line threat since Blount years ago. He is not the best pass catcher which hurt his stock. Taylor also fumbled 15 times in three years – those two factors are the only reason why he is still on the board. He had 300 touches all three seasons which led to inflated fumble numbers. Like Swift, it is hard to pass up a player this talented regardless of roster needs.