5 Things to Know About the Patriots Heading into the 2017 NFL Draft
Thursday, April 27, 2017
The Patriots return 46 of the 53 players on last year's Super Bowl championship team and have made significant upgrades at key positions.
On offense, the Patriots are losing LeGarrette Blount, Martellus Bennett, and Michael Floyd, but are bringing in wide receiver Brandin Cooks, running back Mike Gillislee, running back Rex Burkhead and tight end Dwayne Allen.
On defense, the Patriots are losing defensive ends Chris Long and Jabaal Sheard, linebacker Barkevious Mingo, and cornerback Logan Ryan, but added defensive end Kony Ealy, cornerback Stephon Gilmore and defensive lineman Lawrence Guy.
So what does all this mean for the Patriots and their 2017 NFL Draft?
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Where are the Patriots Drafting?
Here is an updated list of where the Patriots are scheduled to draft.
1st Round - No Pick
New England traded their 32nd overall pick to New Orleans for wide receiver Brandin Cooks and a 4th round pick.
2nd Round - No Pick
The Patriots traded the 64th overall pick to the Carolina Panthers for Kony Ealy and the 72nd pick in the third round.
3rd Round - 72nd & 96th
4th Round - 131st
5th Round - 163rd & 183rd
6th Round - 200th
7th Round - 239th
What are the Patriots Needs?
The Patriots biggest need for the 2017 season is a fourth edge rusher to go alongside Kony Ealy, Rob Ninkovich and Trey Flowers.
Three players that the Patriots could target in the third round include Youngstown's Derek Rivers, Alabama's Ryan Anderson, and Ohio's Tarrell Basham.
A second position the Patriots would like to add depth too is the linebacker position. Dont'a Hightower is signed long term, but newcomer Kyle Van Noy is a free agent after this season.
Linebackers that the Patriots could target in the third or fourth rounds include Wisconsin's Vince Biegel, Wake Forest's Marquel Lee and Ohio's Blair Brown.
Lastly, the Patriots could look to add depth to their offensive line. Nate Solder, Cameron Fleming, and LaAdrian Waddle are all free agents after this season.
UCLA's Connor McDermott, Utah's Sam Tevi and Villanova's Brad Seaton could all be targets for the Patriots later in the draft.
Malcolm Butler Staying a Patriot
It appears that Butler will be a Patriot for at least one more season.
After speculation that he would be traded to the New Orleans Saints upon signing his tender, it appears a trade won't be happening.
Saints coach Sean Payton told reporters at a recent golf outing "he's with New England, and I don't think anything has changed. I don't see anything being imminent as well."
Peter King of MMQB reported that New Orleans is leaning towards keeping their draft picks and that trading one or more picks for Butler and then paying him is not as attractive as it once seemed.
The Patriots will pay Butler $3.91 million this season.
With Butler playing on one side and Stephon Gilmore playing the other, the Patriots will enter the 2017 season with arguably the best secondary in the league.
Jimmy Garoppolo Staying a Patriot
Like Butler, Garoppolo is also likely to be back in a Patriots jersey next season serving as the backup to Tom Brady.
Garoppolo has one year left on his rookie contract with the Patriots before he becomes a free agent. It is not likely that his value will be as high following this season.
Patriots Have 6 Running Backs on the Roster
With the additions of Mike Gillislee from Buffalo and Rex Burkhead from Cincinnati, combined with James White, Dion Lewis, D.J. Foster and Brandon Bolden, the Patriots now have six running backs on their roster.
NFL writer Ben Volin reported earlier this week that he could see the Patriots moving on from Lewis.
After suffering a torn ACL in 2015-16, Lewis is coming off a 2016-17 campaign in which he played seven games and rushed for 283 yards on 64 attempts. He also caught 17 passes for 94 yards.
New England has never lost a game in which he has played.
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