Before we close the book on the 2020 NFL draft for the Patriots, I have a few things left to get off my chest on why I was so underwhelmed with their performance over the three days last week.
Topics include: Kyle Dugger, Damien Harris & Belichick's history; not taking a receiver and making the offense wait; overpaying for Dalton Keene; and the over-reliance on Michigan players and the rise of Jedd Fisch. My grievances do not include not taking a quarterback, where anyone beyond Joe Burrow or Tua Tagovailoa was not an upgrade over Jarrett Stidham.
We also get into the NFL, typically, flying into the season with blinders on to the pandemic, and why it might be wise for teams to carry an extra veteran quarterback into the season amid the uncertainty.
But first, our airing of Patriots draft grievances:
1. Kyle Dugger, Damien Harris & Belichick's history.
I think Kyle Dugger eventually will be a good player for the Patriots. He possesses all the tools to be a better player than Patrick Chung, provided Dugger is as mentally as tough as the strong safety. He's younger, hopefully more durable (despite a mildly concerning injury history for Dugger), he's a more explosive athlete and is bigger. So it makes sense, considering Chung will be 33 this season.
But unless Bill Belichick knows something we don't about Chung possibly pulling a Rob Ninkovich and retiring as training camp starts, when is Dugger going to play outside of a few matchup games here and there? Players drafted in the second round — certainly 37th overall as the team's first selection — should be expected to be a starter by the end of their rookie season. Outside of an injury to Chung — who is a Belichick favorite — how is Dugger going to see the field (watch Chung get hurt in Week 1 and Dugger plays well the entire season ... bleh)? They already have Terrence Brooks as an emergency player and he'll be in the system for a second-straight year.
Why the need for Dugger this season or even next year (Chung, Devin McCourty and Adrian Phillips are all under contract through next season)? Belichick has drafted 34 defensive backs with the Patriots. Do you know how many have started five or more games as rookies? Six.
And four of those players (Darius Butler, McCourty, Alfonzo Dennard, Logan Ryan) were taken during a time when the Patriots' defense, especially the secondary, was severely challenged to get off the field.
Dugger is coming to one of the league's best defenses where no one (outside of the expendable Duron Harmon) was lost from the league's best secondary. If Dugger was drafted to replace Kyle Van Noy or Jamie Collins or Danny Shelton, then I could totally understand it. But this pick makes little sense unless the Patriots know something we don't about Chung. Dugger could be another Damien Harris or Joejuan Williams — players drafted highly at positions already stacked and they never saw the field for at least one season, if not two. How did their rookie seasons go? Think the Patriots could have used some help, last year and this year, at other positions ... maybe on offense?
When you factor in Belichick's terrible history picking defensive backs in the same round, the Dugger selection is downright puzzling.
(By the way, Chung's average Approximate Value his first four seasons in New England before he was basically pushed out the door to sign with Philly in 2013 was 3.0 ... it's 5.2 since was re-signed as a street free agent — he's almost been twice the player).
2. Not taking a receiver and making the offense wait again.