We’ll find out soon enough if New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady wins his sixth Super Bowl Championship or if Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff becomes the first ever No. 1 overall pick at quarterback to win a Lombardi Trophy within the first three seasons of his career. But this is an NFL Draft website and as soon as we have a Super Bowl Champion, all 32 teams will officially be in draft szn. With that said, who could New England be targeting at pick No.
32… I mean No. 31? Let’s examine.
Charles Omenhiu, EDGE, Texas
I remember when I first studied Omenihu’s tape thinking to myself he is an ideal Patriots target. Built similarly to current Patriots’ defensive ends Trey Flower and Deatrich Wise, Omenihu is a long-levered and versatile defensive lineman. With Flowers a free agent after this season and Wise after next, New England is primed to bring in young, cheaper options at the position as they typically do.
Racking up 18 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks in 2018, Omenihu displayed steady growth throughout his Longhorn career and played his best football as a senior. That is something I can see Bill Belichick gravitating towards.
New England’s defense only registered 30 sacks in 2018. Had it not been for the lowly Raiders who only recorded 13 sacks, the Patriots would have the fewest in the league. Boosting the pass rush is likely to be a priority this offseason for the Patriots and Omenihu is a guy that fits New England’s prototype that could be available at the end of the first round.
Irv Smith, TE, Alabama
Don’t kill the messenger but Tom Brady still has a lot of football left to play, so continuing to make sure he has a playmaking tight end is an absolute must. Given some of the grumblings, his age and lengthy injury history, the days of Gronk physically dominating defenses are likely coming to an end.
A balanced and versatile weapon for the position, Smith can help fill the void left by Gronk whenever that may come. Smith is a potent receiver to all levels of the field with the ability to lineup flexed or in-line. He has the athletic ability to challenge the seam and create post-catch, while also features a smooth route-running skill set to uncover quickly. As a blocker, Smith has the play strength and technical refinement to exchange power in the trenches or execute blocks from anywhere in the offensive formation.
Even if Gronk plays in 2019, Smith would be a dynamic and complementary No. 2 as he’s groomed to be the his successor. The passing catching options around Brady figure to look quite different moving forward given the expiring contacts of his receivers so making sure he has a reliable tight end (or two) makes sense.
Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama
Among the areas of concern for the Patriots defense is a lack of speed on the second level. More range and coverage ability is needed and the current personnel needs to be challenged.
Wilson is a dynamic space player with outstanding coverage instincts. He has the range to cut off perimeter runs while also capable of carrying running backs and tight ends into space in man coverage.
Having been a starter in Nick Saban’s defense, that is something I can see Belichick being fond of as he identifies a second-level player to elevate New Engalnd’s team speed on defense. Wilson is perfect to counter today’s pace and space NFL offenses.