After falling just short of repeating as Super Bowl champs, the New England Patriots will look to the 2018 NFL Draft to re-tool their roster for another title run next season.
The New England Patriots will once again be one of the most intriguing teams to watch during this offseason and could stand to undergo some of the most significant changes of any team heading into the 2018 campaign.
Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia is off to Detroit to lead the Lions. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is off to Indianapolis to lead the Colts, haha jk, still with New England. Even more assistant coaches could follow suit to join each of their respective staffs. All of these changes come on the heels of a disappointing Super Bowl loss and reported turmoil inside the front office. But if there’s one thing that Pats consistently manage to do, it’s finding a way to make it all work and come back ready to make a championship run the very next season.
With a number of needs heading into the offseason, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, New England will look to the 2018 Draft to solve some of these issues. After picking just four times in the 2017 Draft, I’d expect the Patriots to go for a volume draft this time around, in order infuse some much-needed youth and athleticism.
The impending free agency of left tackle Nate Solder, and the possible retirement of tight end Rob Gronkowski, also figure to play a major role in how Bill Belichick and company choose to approach the draft on the offensive side of the ball. Having spent just
After several trades, the Patriots are currently without a pick in the fourth, fifth, and seventh rounds, however with four selections in the first three rounds, they’ll likely have plenty of ammunition to trade up or down and fill the remainder of their board.
It’s difficult to gauge the value of players before the Combine and draft visits, but here’s a look at just how New England may choose to address their needs in the NFL Draft.
Round 1 (Pick 31): Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
The highly-publicized Super Bowl benching of corner Malcolm Butler will almost certainly lead to the Patriots exploring their depth at cornerback this offseason, and one of the most intriguing prospects at the position in the draft is Iowa’s Josh Jackson.
Jackson was the definition of a ballhawk for the Hawkeyes in 2017, recording eight interceptions (including two pick-sixes) and 18 pass deflections. At 6-foot-1 and 192 pounds, he has the perfect combination of size and length that is coveted at the position in today’s NFL game.
Jackson possesses unbelievable instincts and ball skills, as evidenced by his aforementioned production in his first season as a starter for Iowa. He seemed to be at his best in big moments, snagging three of his eight picks on the year against Ohio State and two against Wisconsin. He began his Hawkeyes career as a wide receiver, which could help to explain his great hands and ability to high-point the ball in coverage.
There are still some issues that Jackson will need to correct at the next level, including his technique in press coverage and over-aggressiveness, but one of the biggest knocks on Jackson leading up to the draft will be his limited experience at the collegiate level. With just one season of starting experience under his belt, is he merely a one-hit wonder or a prospect worthy of a first-round selection?
In the end, Jackson could see his name called much earlier than the end of the first round for a team that believes he will live up to his potential as an elite, turnover-inducing playmaker at the next level. If he slips to this range, however, don’t be surprised if the Patriots pounce on him.