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NFL Draft 32 for 32 - New England Patriots

The 2018 season ended with yet another Super Bowl victory for the New England Patriots. On the way to that win, we saw a few more cracks in the armor than we are accustomed to. Tom Brady's key statistics all regressed last year. His passing yardage (4,355) and touchdowns (29) were both down. While his interceptions rose (up to 11 from 8 in 2017). He also took fewer risks down the field (65 deep passes in 2018). He played safer last year, preferring to keep passes close to the line of scrimmage and rely on his running game.

Brady was an obvious disappointment for fantasy owners last year, not living up to the lofty expectations when drafting him. His draft stock will be adjusted accordingly in 2019. Gone are the days of Brady being a sure-fire top-five QB off the board. He now will find himself closer to the back end of the top-10 and being drafted somewhere in the eighth to ninth rounds. He may finish the year ahead of his draft value, but with his receiving group again being less than stellar and the retirement of Rob Gronkowski, Brady could become a matchup play in fantasy. GASP!

The strength of the Patriots offense may actually be the running game, led by Sony Michel. Michel came out of the gates fairly hot with three RB1-scoring weeks in his first five games. Then, after missing a couple of games, he returned to be a key cog for many owners as they competed for fantasy titles. James White again did what he does well and was a strong PPR asset for teams with his 87 catches and 12 total TD. When it comes to drafts in 2019, Michel is almost locked in as a second-round pick, while White may sneak into the late third, but being selected in the fourth seems about right. Each will be weekly starters in fantasy, as long as healthy, and will see plenty of volume to match that value.

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Top Three Projected Selections

First Round- T.J. Hockenson, TE Iowa (32nd overall)
Second Round- Martez Ivey, OG Florida (56th)
Julian Love, CB Notre Dame (64th)

Remaining Picks
Third Round- 73rd, 97th, 101st
Fourth Round- 134th
Sixth Round- 205th
Seventh Round- 239th, 243rd, 246th, 252nd


Needs Analysis

When it comes to the draft, the Patriots have a glaring need at tight end after Gronkowski's retirement. But aside from that, the Patriots will do what they always do. Look for the value pick and move around the board to find players that best suit their needs. Offensive and defensive line will be among the needs, as well as some help in the secondary.

With the first pick in their stocked draft, the Patriots somehow luck out and find Gronkowski's replacement in T.J. Hockenson. He is the athletic TE that the team needs in this system. He has the ability to stay in and block but the skill-set of a receiver to get down the field. He can burst up the field out his stance and is an excellent route runner. As he accelerates out of cuts, he uses his frame to shield defenders from the ball and give the QB a good window to throw into. If he lands here, his fantasy appeal skyrockets instantly in owners eyes. He will be viewed as a TE1 in drafts this year and I can envision him easily finishing inside the Top 10. Something that rarely happens. He has great value in dynasty drafts as a player that has the upside to become very similar to Travis Kelce.

In the second round, the Patriots look for a little depth in Martez Ivey. He fills a need for a team looking to add some pop to their running game. He can handle blockers on the inside very well, but inconsistencies in college plagued him. One thing is for sure, he will get the proper coaching from this staff. As he learns how to handle the level of play, Ivey could plug in and be a very strong piece to this offensive line.

Julian Love just seems like the perfect fit in this Patriots scheme. He is a cover corner that possesses great feet, hips, instincts, and competitiveness. His technique allows him to play both man and zone, flexibility that Bill Belichick will love. He is a finesse corner that plays with some physicality, but less than stellar long speed. Love's talent and ball skills will become evident almost immediately as he could earn a starting job quickly, giving the Patriots another solid option to pair with Stephon Gilmore.

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