The Patriots of the Future

BaseballJones

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Just thinking about this roster and wondering who the best young players are. A "young" player is someone I'll define as 26 or younger at the start of the year. The team currently has 13 such players on offense, and 17 on defense on their official roster. Of those 13, here's who I think are the best of the group, that may form the future of the franchise:

OFFENSE
RB Michel (23) - looks like he's a solid NFL RB
OT Wynn (23) - putting him here is purely based on draft potential
OT Brown (25) - very very solid NFL starting LT
OG Mason (25) - one of the best in the business
C Andrews (26) - solid player
OG Thuney (26) - very good interior O-lineman
RB White (26) - top producer as a pass-catching RB

DEFENSE
LB Bentley (22) - showed real promise until he got hurt
CB Jackson (23) - the next Malcolm Butler? has grown tremendously this season
DT Butler (24) - solid in the pass game
DE Wise (24) - has good potential
DT Flowers (25) - best DL on the team, one of the better ones in the league
CB Jones (25) - solid reserve/nickel corner

The problem here is that there isn't that much top quality young talent on the roster. They badly need an influx of young talent. Fortunately, they have about 12 draft picks in the 2019 draft. Including a first rounder, two second rounders, and three third rounders. Six picks in the first three rounds. Good opportunity to load up. I'd rather they not trade those picks but stock up on needed talent. Specifically: LB, DL, and TE.
 

Captaincoop

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There are zero QB, TE, WR on the list above.

I'd put all of those positions, along with LB and S, as draft needs.

Plus they really need a DT, too. Malcom Brown hasn't made a tackle since the leaves turned.
 

Super Nomario

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The young talent situation is very likely the bleakest in the NFL given how little they've gotten out of the '16-'18 drafts. The good news is that can turn around in a hurry with a good draft and some development from the '18 guys we haven't seen too much of: Wynn, Bentley, Dawson, Crossen, Berrios, Izzo, Sam. A couple of those guys pan out, along with Michel and Jackson and maybe a wildcard like Obi Melifonwu or one of the Rivers/Davis duo, and a good 2019 draft, and we're right back in business.

A couple problems:
- T. Brown and Flowers are FA and will likely be expensive
- The young guys other than Jackson are trending in the wrong direction. Jackson's snaps are coming at the expense of Jones, Rivers / Davis show no signs of getting on the field, Wise was behind John Simon for snaps last week, and Michel has had a couple down weeks after a great game against the Jets.

Plus they really need a DT, too. Malcom Brown hasn't made a tackle since the leaves turned.
Both M. Brown and Shelton are FA so I'll be shocked if they don't take a DT high. It's the position they have invested the most high selections in historically.

I know we can pretend otherwise, but this team is going to need a new QB sooner rather than later
They absolutely need to be scouting QBs in every draft for the immediate future ... but that doesn't mean there's going to be a guy they like available where they're picking. The extra draft capital this year means they could even make a Mahomes/Watson aggressive trade up and still restock on young talent at other positions. I'm not sure there's anyone worth doing that for in this class though.

EDIT to make it clear which Brown I am talking about
 
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Rico Guapo

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- Brown and Flowers are FA and will likely be expensive

Both Brown and Shelton are FA so I'll be shocked if they don't take a DT high. It's the position they have invested the most high selections in historically.
.
Brown is gone, they declined his fifth year option in the off season and he's generally been a disappointment from what I've seen. Doesn't generate much of a pass rush, doesn't hold up at the point of attack well, etc.

Shelton is gone too, he's been a healthy scratch several times this season, zero pass rush, better against the run than Brown but not monumentally so.

Flowers is going to be very very very expensive, he's probably gone too.

I wouldn't be surprised to see the Patriots use multiple picks on the DL in the draft.
 

dcmissle

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Thanks to Baseball Jones for raising the inevitable in a fun way unlikely to piss off anyone in the room.

There's a ton of weight on next year's draft, maybe more than it can bear. Primarily because if they choose to address QB, that's likely to soak up high end draft ammo sorely needed at other positions.

In retrospect, it seems they liked Mayfield and no one else, at least high, but Cleveland was on the same page. Some of us liked Lamar!, and time will tell on him -- unless Harbaugh breaks him while trying to save his job.
 

Jimbodandy

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They need front seven defensive help so badly that it hurts. Just one impact LB or DT would change this defense appreciably. Would rather see him use higher picks there, even moving up, than drop 2 picks on the 2021 quarterback.

If they lose in the AFCCG this year 35-33, maybe more people will feel the same way. But more likely they will still be talking about some 4th down decision that Bill doesn't feel like explaining...
 
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jmanny24

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The problem here is that there isn't that much top quality young talent on the roster. They badly need an influx of young talent. Fortunately, they have about 12 draft picks in the 2019 draft. Including a first rounder, two second rounders, and three third rounders. Six picks in the first three rounds. Good opportunity to load up. I'd rather they not trade those picks but stock up on needed talent. Specifically: LB, DL, and TE.
Just curious where you got the 12 number. I have them for 1, 2 2's, 2 3's, 2 4's, 7....unless you were counting comp picks.
 

BaseballJones

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I know BB never seems to draft according to how we all think he should, and obviously there's the caveat that I'm just a fan and not the most successful coach/GM in the history of the sport. That being said, I'd really, really, really like to see them draft:

- A stud defensive lineman. Doesn't matter if it's a DE or DT. A stud who can really wreak havoc.

- A fast, playmaking LB. Explosive and who can cover RBs and TEs.

- The next great TE.

- Another QB.

They have nine draft picks. I'd like:

1st round: Either TE Okwuegbunan (Missouri), TE Smith (Alabama), or TE Fant (Iowa). One of them will be available for their first round pick, but most likely none of them will be around for their first second round pick.

2nd round: LB Joseph (Florida), LB Lamar (Clemson), or LB Dye (Oregon). All three are terrific athletes who can cover.

2nd round: DT Tillery (ND), DE Jackson (Miami), or DE Jelks (Oregon). They need impact players on the defensive line.

3rd round: DE Bryant (Clemson), DT Willis (Miami), OLB Winovich (Michigan), DT Buggs (Alabama). More defensive help on the line and at LB.

3rd round: Same.

3rd round: QB. Some interesting possibilities likely at this point in the draft. Ryan Finley of NC State might be available. Jarrett Stidham of Auburn. Will Grier from WVU, who isn't playing in his bowl game against Syracuse (yay!) is a pretty nice prospect, projected to maybe be in the 3rd round.

So TE, D-line, LB, QB. Those four spots with their 6 picks in the first three rounds. That's what I'd like to see them do.
 

jmanny24

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I know BB never seems to draft according to how we all think he should, and obviously there's the caveat that I'm just a fan and not the most successful coach/GM in the history of the sport. That being said, I'd really, really, really like to see them draft:

- A stud defensive lineman. Doesn't matter if it's a DE or DT. A stud who can really wreak havoc.

- A fast, playmaking LB. Explosive and who can cover RBs and TEs.
If I can add to #1 please no more space eaters. Give me someone who can push the line back and collapse the pocket.
#2 absolutely 100% agree.
I'm afraid what we'll see is he will trade upper round picks for multiple picks, then people will say, "it's obvious Bill doesn't like the talent in these rounds." "The value is in the middle rounds". Then come Aug.-Sept. people will wonder why the middle to late round picks aren't flashing much talent and can't get on the field. And the team might be in the same position as this year, needing to get younger and more athletic on defense. It's a vicious cycle imo.
 

BigSoxFan

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If I can add to #1 please no more space eaters. Give me someone who can push the line back and collapse the pocket.
#2 absolutely 100% agree.
I'm afraid what we'll see is he will trade upper round picks for multiple picks, then people will say, "it's obvious Bill doesn't like the talent in these rounds." "The value is in the middle rounds". Then come Aug.-Sept. people will wonder why the middle to late round picks aren't flashing much talent and can't get on the field. And the team might be in the same position as this year, needing to get younger and more athletic on defense. It's a vicious cycle imo.
The kid has some Suh in him but I love Christian Wilkins at Clemson. Very disruptive DT who plays with a mean streak - sometimes too mean. The front 7 needs some nasty and he's my guy. Currently projected in the low 20s so attainable if he stays there.
 

Super Nomario

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- A fast, playmaking LB. Explosive and who can cover RBs and TEs.
They could potentially also solve this problem with a safety rather than a linebacker, and the supply / value might be better there.

If I can add to #1 please no more space eaters. Give me someone who can push the line back and collapse the pocket.
They could use both kinds of DT, honestly. Interior pass rush is a need for sure, but the run defense has been a massive problem since Branch dropped off in the 2017 offseason and they could use a "war daddy." I wouldn't be surprised to see them double-dip at DT.

Another possibility: a first-round OT. Trent Brown is a FA, Cannon turns 31 in May, Wynn is coming off an Achilles and might be better at G anyway. That's a tough spot to fill in later rounds, so if there's a guy they like in the first, it should surprise no one if they go in that direction.

Also, I expect a trade or two for established players. Pats are like 22nd in 2019 cap space so it will tough to be major FA players, but they can add cost-controlled talent through trade and the third-rounders are nice chips for it.
 

RedOctober3829

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They could potentially also solve this problem with a safety rather than a linebacker, and the supply / value might be better there.


They could use both kinds of DT, honestly. Interior pass rush is a need for sure, but the run defense has been a massive problem since Branch dropped off in the 2017 offseason and they could use a "war daddy." I wouldn't be surprised to see them double-dip at DT.

Another possibility: a first-round OT. Trent Brown is a FA, Cannon turns 31 in May, Wynn is coming off an Achilles and might be better at G anyway. That's a tough spot to fill in later rounds, so if there's a guy they like in the first, it should surprise no one if they go in that direction.

Also, I expect a trade or two for established players. Pats are like 22nd in 2019 cap space so it will tough to be major FA players, but they can add cost-controlled talent through trade and the third-rounders are nice chips for it.
They can make around $35 million more in cap room if they cut or trade Gronk($10 million savings), Hightower(up to $7.875 million), DMC($9.5 million), and Dwayne Allen($7 million).
 

Super Nomario

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They can make around $35 million more in cap room if they cut or trade Gronk($10 million savings), Hightower(up to $7.875 million), DMC($9.5 million), and Dwayne Allen($7 million).
Sure, but a) then they create more holes (a minor hole in Allen's case) and b) some of the teams with more cap space can also do this. Like Cleveland can cut Jamie Collins at save $9 MM, but they also have $86 MM in cap space without cutting him. It is crazy how much cap space collectively the league has. That might drive up the market contracts dramatically. It's also going to make the cap figures of guys like Gronk, McCourty, and Hightower not look that bad. But the thing I think it does most is make trading a more cost-effective technique for acquiring veteran talent.

(Also reasonably likely: working out short extensions / restructures for Brady, Gronk, McCourty, and / or Hightower that reduce their 2019 hit)
 

RedOctober3829

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Sure, but a) then they create more holes (a minor hole in Allen's case) and b) some of the teams with more cap space can also do this. Like Cleveland can cut Jamie Collins at save $9 MM, but they also have $86 MM in cap space without cutting him. It is crazy how much cap space collectively the league has. That might drive up the market contracts dramatically. It's also going to make the cap figures of guys like Gronk, McCourty, and Hightower not look that bad. But the thing I think it does most is make trading a more cost-effective technique for acquiring veteran talent.

(Also reasonably likely: working out short extensions / restructures for Brady, Gronk, McCourty, and / or Hightower that reduce their 2019 hit)
Their trades for veteran players have gotten themselves into this position with the lack of young talent however. They've traded away a number of draft picks for vets that haven't done much of anything or draft picks that haven't produced for a number of reasons mainly injury.

Recent trades
2019 6th for Johnson Bademosi
2018 3rd for Danny Shelton(5th rounder they got was traded away)
Multiple trades involving both their 2018 2nd rd picks and only netting Duke Dawson and a '19 2nd
2017 5th for Barkevious Mingo
2017 4th for Dwayne Allen(6th rounder they got was traded away)
2017 2nd for Kony Ealy(3rd rd pick they got they traded away)
2017 3rd/4th for 3rd which was Antonio Garcia
2017 3rd/6th for 3rd which was Derek Rivers
2018 5th for Cassius Marsh
Jimmy G to 49ers for 2nd round pick which was traded away
 
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Captaincoop

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Another possibility: a first-round OT. Trent Brown is a FA, Cannon turns 31 in May, Wynn is coming off an Achilles and might be better at G anyway. That's a tough spot to fill in later rounds, so if there's a guy they like in the first, it should surprise no one if they go in that direction.
This is why the Wynn pick was perplexing in the first place. But if they already feel that he can't be a starting OT, it was an even bigger mistake than it seemed in April.

Both of those first round picks...ugh.
 

j44thor

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I have a feeling this will be Gronk's last year in the NFL. He has an expansive list of outside business interests and seems like the type that will walk away a year early vs. a year late. Given he was genuinely contemplating retirement last year and his body seems to have taken quite a toll this year, I think he is done.
 

Super Nomario

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Their trades for veteran players have gotten themselves into this position with the lack of young talent however. They've traded away a number of draft picks for vets that haven't done much of anything or draft picks that haven't produced for a number of reasons mainly injury.
A lot of success stories trading for vets, too - Van Noy, JMac, Cooks, Bennett, Gordon, etc. And I disagree it's impacted the young talent situation much. Between comp picks, trading down, and trading veterans like Garoppolo, Collins, etc. for picks, they've had plenty of picks. Other than 2017 (4, and a disaster), they've had a ton - 9 in 2018, 9 in 2016, 11 in 2015, 9 in 2014. And getting back picks matters, even if they "traded away." I have no issues with their strategy in this area - they just need to do a better job turning the picks into value, and / or have better luck.

This is why the Wynn pick was perplexing in the first place. But if they already feel that he can't be a starting OT, it was an even bigger mistake than it seemed in April.
I would not read it that way. First, you need two tackles, and Cannon is on the wrong side of 30, so an OT has value even if Wynn can stick at LT. Second, they may feel, as they did with Logan Mankins, that Wynn is a good tackle, but an outstanding guard. What they do with Trent Brown has some bearing on this, and I would agree T is not one of the team's top needs. But it is hard to find tackles, especially outside the first round, so if they find one who passes Dante's criteria, it makes sense.
 

RedOctober3829

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A lot of success stories trading for vets, too - Van Noy, JMac, Cooks, Bennett, Gordon, etc. And I disagree it's impacted the young talent situation much. Between comp picks, trading down, and trading veterans like Garoppolo, Collins, etc. for picks, they've had plenty of picks. Other than 2017 (4, and a disaster), they've had a ton - 9 in 2018, 9 in 2016, 11 in 2015, 9 in 2014. And getting back picks matters, even if they "traded away." I have no issues with their strategy in this area - they just need to do a better job turning the picks into value, and / or have better luck.
You hit the nail on the head. The strategy itself on the surface isn't a terrible idea they just haven't been able to pick the right player. I'll give some context: They traded JG for 43rd overall to give them 2 2nd round picks(43&63). 43 was traded for 51 and 117. 63 and 117 were traded for 56 which was Duke Dawson and a 2019 2nd. Bad luck with Dawson? Sure. But, I think pushing off the extra 2nd round pick into 2019 was not the right move as they need the younger talent now.

Jamie Collins was traded for the #96 pick. #96 and #124 was traded for #85 which was Antonio Garcia. Bad injury luck? Sure. But, it also hurts to see that #96 turned out to be Kenny Golladay.

As far as the number of picks go, that doesn't necessarily tell the whole story. It sounds nice to say they had a lot of picks, but how are those picks helping the team currently? There are a combined 4 players on the current roster from the 16 and 17 drafts. 2 of the 4 are starters, 1 is a situational rusher, and 1 is a backup.

2018--Wynn, Sam, Izzo, Dawson, and Berrios have combined for 0 snaps and are unknowns. Michel and Bentley look like hits. Crossen looks like he can contribute.

2017--1 player still on the team. As you said, a disaster.

2016--6 of 9 players drafted no longer on the team including 5 of the top 6 picks. Netted out Thuney, Roberts, and Karras who are still here. Mitchell and Valentine provided only 1 year of value. Brissett gave some value as well and was turned into Dorsett who hasn't done much either. Long term, not enough came out of this draft.

2015--Good draft. Netted out Flowers, Brown, Mason, Cardona, Grissom, and Richards. Tre Jackson was an intriguing player but ultimately was an injury casualty

2014--Easley was a reach and a bust. But rest of it wasn't that bad. Jimmy G, White, and Cam Fleming all turned out to be good picks.
 

jmanny24

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You hit the nail on the head. The strategy itself on the surface isn't a terrible idea they just haven't been able to pick the right player. I'll give some context: They traded JG for 43rd overall to give them 2 2nd round picks(43&63). 43 was traded for 51 and 117. 63 and 117 were traded for 56 which was Duke Dawson and a 2019 2nd. Bad luck with Dawson? Sure. But, I think pushing off the extra 2nd round pick into 2019 was not the right move as they need the younger talent now.

Jamie Collins was traded for the #96 pick. #96 and #124 was traded for #85 which was Antonio Garcia. Bad injury luck? Sure. But, it also hurts to see that #96 turned out to be Kenny Golladay.

As far as the number of picks go, that doesn't necessarily tell the whole story. It sounds nice to say they had a lot of picks, but how are those picks helping the team currently? There are a combined 4 players on the current roster from the 16 and 17 drafts. 2 of the 4 are starters, 1 is a situational rusher, and 1 is a backup.

2018--Wynn, Sam, Izzo, Dawson, and Berrios have combined for 0 snaps and are unknowns. Michel and Bentley look like hits. Crossen looks like he can contribute.

2017--1 player still on the team. As you said, a disaster.

2016--6 of 9 players drafted no longer on the team including 5 of the top 6 picks. Netted out Thuney, Roberts, and Karras who are still here. Mitchell and Valentine provided only 1 year of value. Brissett gave some value as well and was turned into Dorsett who hasn't done much either. Long term, not enough came out of this draft.

2015--Good draft. Netted out Flowers, Brown, Mason, Cardona, Grissom, and Richards. Tre Jackson was an intriguing player but ultimately was an injury casualty

2014--Easley was a reach and a bust. But rest of it wasn't that bad. Jimmy G, White, and Cam Fleming all turned out to be good picks.
I don't want to speak for SN but I think that's part of his point. If they are going to be cute by having so many moving parts during the draft, you best have a better hit rate than he has...It is a main gripe of mine when it comes to the draft, stop being cute, stop looking for value, draft guys that are going to help and make the roster, not guys that, if you coach up may be able to make a contribution.
 

Super Nomario

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I don't want to speak for SN but I think that's part of his point. If they are going to be cute by having so many moving parts during the draft, you best have a better hit rate than he has...It is a main gripe of mine when it comes to the draft, stop being cute, stop looking for value, draft guys that are going to help and make the roster, not guys that, if you coach up may be able to make a contribution.
Yeah, that's not my point. I'm sure they're trying to draft guys that are "going to help and make the roster," but, like with 31 other teams, sometimes they fail to predict the future accurately. The being "cute" (getting extra picks and value from trading picks) is one of the things that has allowed them to continue to compete for nearly two decades despite not always hitting on their picks.
 

nattysez

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At QB, they seem to be grooming Etling, but I'm not sure there's any way for us to know whether he's the next Jimmy G or the next Ryan Mallett at this point.
 

heavyde050

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At QB, they seem to be grooming Etling, but I'm not sure there's any way for us to know whether he's the next Jimmy G or the next Ryan Mallett at this point.
I just hope Michel continues to improve and turns into a complete back. A good running game will help the next QB (and won't hurt the rest of Brady's career either).
 

Jimbodandy

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Yeah, that's not my point. I'm sure they're trying to draft guys that are "going to help and make the roster," but, like with 31 other teams, sometimes they fail to predict the future accurately. The being "cute" (getting extra picks and value from trading picks) is one of the things that has allowed them to continue to compete for nearly two decades despite not always hitting on their picks.
Managing the draft like that is a huge part of 18 years without taking a couple of 6-10 or 4-12 seasons to reload. The other huge part is salary cap management obviously. Letting guys go before they become too expensive and not falling in love with the new, shiny object FAs.

Keeping an eye on the next five years while you build for the next one can be pretty unpopular among fans, and luckily BFB doesn't give a shit and RFK lets him do his job.
 

j-man

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it will go 2 ways

A like the end of the 4gers dystenty in 99 but can still have some 10-6 11-5 years with bill b around
B bill goes after 2020 or 2021 josh M turn u into 6-10 7-9 meaning without atother brady pick u are miami 2000 starting in 2020

sony m has 1'150 y pot Wynn ? jury is still out OT T Brown will pats pay near top$ 10-12 mil a year for him i agree on the rest of the OL White only works for a MCD reid schme Flowers will get top $ in fa will pats match

this next off season is the pats biggest one since 2000
brady has anywhere between 1 and 2 years left
Gronk is gone and even if he comes back he will be another year older
juils is slowing down and plob has 2 years tops
my q is will bill stay for 4-5 more years to give u a shot after brady
or does bill go a year after tom

u have 2 choies
a rip off the bandaid ask brady to reteie if not sign a QB Vet to push brady
b or keep brady tell him 2019 is it sign a bunch of vets to 1-2 year deals get a 1 WR maybe 2 WR 2 LB 3 DE' Or DT A S and try to build a 2003 syile team with a stong running game and good o-line
 

BaseballJones

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Who can they get that’s better than Tom Brady? They don’t have a top draft pick.

I think this draft there are a few intriguing QB options that should be available in the third round. Take a shot, groom him for two more years while Brady declines into an average NFL starter, and by then the new kid should be as ready as he’s ever gonna be.

Or....sign Foles after this season. He should be a free agent after this season. And I think he’s shown enough to be pretty solid.

But really, the best plan is keep Brady draft a QB (or two!) and groom the next guy to take over in a couple of seasons.