Tee Higgins, Michael Pittman Jr., Brandon Aiyuk, Laviska Shenault, K.J. Hamler, Chase Claypool, Van Jefferson, and Denzel Mims were all on the board for the Patriots to select in the first two rounds of the 2020 NFL Draft, but the team didn’t just pass on that group of talented wide receivers, it elected not to select any players at the position at all.
When head coach/general manager Bill Belichick was asked why he didn’t pick a WR, an obvious position of need in a draft that was seen as particularly strong in that area, he gave a clear and uncharacteristically detailed reply.
Why Patriots Didn’t Draft a WR in the 2020 NFL Draft
Belichick answered the inquiry in a Q&A on the New England Patriots’ YouTube channel. The response comes through at the 5:30 mark of the video below:
Specifically, here’s the text to his answer:
I’m sure that all our young players will improve in Year 2. Got a first-round pick on N’Keal [Harry] last year. Second-round pick on Mohamed [Sanu] — that was really off this draft,” he said. “Obviously have Julian [Edelman] and a number of other young players. I think that will be a very competitive group.
Clearly, the person who most needs to step up is second-year-pro N’Keal Harry. He was selected in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, and that suggests he can become a potential star in the league. At worst, he should be a dependable weapon on the outside and emerge as the team’s unquestioned No. 1 option.
N’Keal Harry’s Rookie Season
As a rookie, Harry played in just seven games, starting five of them. He tallied 12 receptions, 105 yards, and two touchdowns. He even ran the ball five times for 49 yards.
Boston Sport posted every touch Harry had during his rookie season after missing the first nine games with an ankle injury:
There are flashes of the kind of big, physical receiver who could be a major help to new QB Jarrett Stidham, but most of all, Harry must prove he can stay healthy.
If he maintains his health, a major improvement in production is inevitable.
How Long Will Mohamed Sanu Be a Patriot?
Sanu is recovering from a left-leg injury and his name has been mentioned as a potential cap casualty closer to the beginning of the team’s training camp.
He’s the second-most accomplished receiver behind Edelman, but perhaps not a big enough needle-mover to warrant eating up such a large piece of the team’s salary cap–especially considering the Patriots don’t currently have the cap room to sign their draft picks.
The Under-the-Radar Guys
Belichick said “a number of other young players,” and that shouldn’t be dismissed. He’s likely referring to free-agent signing Damiere Byrd, who could replace Philip Dorsett, and then there is undrafted free-agent Jeff Thomas out of Miami.
Both players stretch the field with Thomas having a higher ceiling. He has the talent and ability to have been drafted in the first four rounds of the draft, but off-the-field issues pushed him out of the seven rounds.
If either Byrd or Thomas pops, the depth at WR could be significantly improved.
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