Patriots have the capital to move up for a CB in Round 2 if they so choose


Perry: Patriots have the capital to move up for a CB in Round 2 if they so choose originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

League executives believe there is solid — though not top-tier — cornerback talent remaining as Day 2 of the draft approaches.

That’s good news for the Patriots. It’s a need on their roster, particularly in a division where the receiver talent is on the rise. (And there are NFL folks still wondering why they didn’t just fill that need with Washington’s Trent McDuffie at pick No. 21 overall.)

The not-so-good news? That corner talent may be mostly off the board by the time Bill Belichick is back on the clock with his second-rounder at pick No. 54.

Among those thought to be the best available are Prototypical Patriots like Washington’s Kyler Gordon, Clemson’s Andrew Booth and Houston’s Marcus Jones.

Perry: Here’s who the Patriots could target on Day 2 of the NFL Draft

Others who could interest New England on Day 2 would be Mississippi State’s Martin Emerson and Arizona State’s Jack Jones.

Emerson is an intriguing prospect because of his length. He didn’t crack our list of Prototypes this year because of some concerns about his athleticism and his tackling. He ran a 4.53-second 40 at the combine, which placed him in the 36th percentile at his position group, and his 32-inch vertical at his pro day was poor. But he has 33.5-inch arms at 6-foot-2, 201 pounds, and his 6.90-second three-cone time was solid. He can press at the line of scrimmage, which the Patriots like, and he saw plenty of work as a punt-coverage player in college.

Jones, meanwhile, also found himself on the outside looking in at our list of Prototypes. He’ll be 25 years old in December, and he has size (5-foot-11, 177 pounds) and speed (4.52-second 40) concerns. He also has off-the-field issues the Patriots will have to weigh.

According to The Athletic, Jones left USC for academic issues in 2018 and was arrested for allegedly breaking into a Panda Express in June of that year. He was also suspended by Arizona State’s football staff for getting into a fight in a 2020 practice. But Jones was a five-star recruit coming out of high school, he’s thought to have good instincts and ball skills, and he looks like a better athlete on the field than his test numbers would indicate.

The Patriots may not have to maneuver their way up the board if they’re satisfied with all five of the names above as Day 2 fits.

There is speed available to the Patriots on Friday of draft weekend. They could certainly use some. But when it comes to the corner class, they may have to be willing to get aggressive to land one of the best of what’s left.

But if, for instance, they value Gordon — projected by many as a first-rounder before running a slower-than-expected time at the combine — as the best of the bunch, how could they climb to make sure they get him ?

There are a few familiar Patriots trade partners sitting at the top of the second round at the moment. Tampa Bay has pick No. 33 overall, the first in the second round. The Texans have No. 37 overall. The Seahawks are sitting there with picks No. 40 and 41.

If, for example, the Patriots wanted to leapfrog the Jets at No. 38 — who could still be on the hunt for corner help even after adding sauce Gardner at No. 4 overall — maybe Belichick could call the Giants at No. 36. Picks No. 54, 94 and 127 should provide enough value for new head coach Brian Daboll to consider moving back from his fourth pick in the second round. (The Patriots acquired No. 94 in their trade with Kansas City to move from No. 21 to No. 29. They also acquired No. 121 in that deal, perhaps making No. 127 more expendable.)

In that scenario, the Patriots would have just one more Day 2 pick: No. 85 overall in the third round. And in that range the Patriots could go defense again, with an athletic linebacker.

Georgia’s Nakobe Dean would likely be gone by then, as would maybe the freakiest athlete at the position in this year’s class Montana State’s Troy Andersen. But perhaps Wyoming’s Chad Muma gets to No. 85, or Alabama’s Christian Harris, or Georgia’s Channing Tindall.

Muma has drawn comparisons to his former collegiate teammate Logan Wilson (now starting for the Bengals), who went in the third round in 2020. Harris is a big-hitter in a small package who earned enough respect from Nick Saban to start as a true freshman three years ago. Tindall comes from another Patriots-friendly program and has some of the best special-teams chops in this class but was a dynamic defensive player for Kirby Smart as well.

All five linebacker names listed above were Prototypical Patriots this year.

There is speed available to the Patriots on Friday of draft weekend. They could certainly use some. But when it comes to the corner class, they may have to be willing to get aggressive to land one of the best of what’s left.



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