Not only did Brady depart for Tampa, but New England had to cope with eight players opting out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns, including Patriots All-decade safety Patrick Chung and Pro Bowl linebacker Dont'a Hightower.
Missing players of this caliber didn't aid Belichick's cause one bit, but the truth is that the Patriots' D -- even with the absentees -- wasn't really the issue. The issue was the misfiring offense that only managed to put up an average of 20.4 points per game (27th in NFL).
Legendary coach Bill Belichick is the man tasked with overhauling that misfiring New England Patriots' offense and he will be in charge of identifying and recruiting new talent to the roster. One of the ways he'll be looking to do that is in the NFL draft, so let's take a look at the :
2021 NFL Draft: Top 3 needs for the New England Patriots
What draft picks do New England Patriots have at the 2021 NFL Draft?
New England Patriots have the following picks in this year's 2021 NFL Draft: Round 1 - Pick 15; Round 2 - Pick 47; Round 3 - *expected compensatory pick for Brady; Round 4 Pick * and expected compensatory pick for Van Noy; plus, a Round 5 Pick; Round 6 Pick, and a Round 7 pick.
What are the top 3 needs for the New England Patriots in the 2021 NFL Draft?
All things considered, these are the three key areas New England Patriots needs to address in the 2021 NFL Draft and the three best players to fulfill Belichick's needs
#1 2021 NFL Draft: Wide Receiver, Devonta Smith (or Jaylen Waddle) (pick 15)
Jakobi Myers (729-yards receiving) looked much improved in his sophomore campaign with the Patriots and filled in well during Julian Edelman's prolonged stint on IR. As industrious as Myers was though, he didn't register a single touchdown on the year, and Byrd, Harry, and the rest were below the standard fans have come to expect.
In defense of the Patriots' receiving corps, they didn't get thrown a lot of great passes either. Regardless, Belichick will surely look to strengthen the group during the draft/ free agency.
If he's still on the board at pick 15, Heisman award winner, Devonta Smith could be exactly what the New England Patriots need (see video below). The receiver, who registered 1,800 yards and 23 TDs for the Crimson Tide in his senior year, looks set for big things and would provide a bit of excitement for the Patriots' fanbase heading into the new season.
#2 2021 NFL Draft: Quarterback (pick 47)
New England Patriots had Cam Newton behind the line last season. "SuperCam" still shows athletic prowess when running the ball, but his arm hasn't been the same since shoulder surgery: Newton made just 8 TD passes in 2020. It's almost certain that the New England Patriots will make the former Panther an unrestricted free agent at the end of his contract. This means Belichick is likely to add at least one new QB during the offseason; probably two.
I personally think Belichick could make a play for Chicago's soon-to-be free-agent, Mitchell Trubisky, or look to trade Jimmy Garoppolo back to the Gilette Stadium to play QB1.
As an insurance policy on both of those guys, Mac Jones, would be a great second-round pick if he's still on the board. Jones might not have the flair of a Trevor Lawrence but, like Garoppolo and Trubisky, Smith has a good command of his offense; makes good decisions with the football, and keeps the chains moving. On top of that, Jones led College football in passing yards (4,500-yards) and threw for 40 TDs (2nd).
#3 2021 NFL Draft: Edge Rusher (round 3)
I considered a running back for the third pick: Damien Harris, James White, and Rex Burkhead shared the positional workload last season; all three players performed adequately (Harris was undoubtedly the best of the three) but none seemed capable of making the kinds of plays the New England Patriots will need to wrestle back control of the AFC East. However, with the likes of the Packers' Aaron Jones and the Seahawks' Chris Carson about to hit free agency, Belichick could opt out of using an early draft pick on an RB.
Instead, we think the New England Patriots could add a dash of young blood to an underperforming pass rush. New England only sacked the opposition quarterback an average of 1.5 times per game (T-26th in the NFL) last year. The expected return of Hightower is likely to help boost that stat slightly next year, but Houston edge rusher, Payton Turner is another talent that the Patriots might consider.
Turner is physically dominant on defense in his age-group. Before going down to injury, he was simply unplayable, earning a 90.0 pass-rushing grade. He would be a great addition to an already sturdy, robust defense.
What do you think of our picks? Is there anything you would do differently? Have your say in the comments section below: