By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots did a lot of waiting at the NFL Draft on Thursday night. Their Friday night will be much busier.
After making one selection on the opening night of the draft, the Patriots have two second-round picks and three third-round picks at their disposal Friday night. Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio will have plenty of ammo to move up and down the draft board if they so please Friday evening.
Here are their five picks on Friday:
2nd Round, 56th overall (via Chicago)
2nd Round, 64th overall (own)
3rd Round, 73rd overall (via Detroit)
3rd Round, 97th overall (comp pick for Nate Solder)
3rd Round, 101st overall (comp pick for Malcolm Butler)
“There’s some players that we like, and we have some flexibility,” Caserio said Thursday after the first round wrapped up. “Maybe if there’s a player that we think we need to target a little bit earlier, we could potentially go up and get him.”
New England drafted receiver N’Keal Harry with the 32nd overall pick Thursday night, and the 6-foot-2, 228 pound Arizona State product adds some much-needed size to Tom Brady’s arsenal. It marks the first time that Belichick has drafted a receiver in the first round with the Patriots, and he likely isn’t done at the position this weekend.
Heading into Friday, there are a handful of good receivers still available, including South Carolina’s Deebo Samuel, Ohio State’s Terry McLaurin, Georgia’s Mecole Hardman and Riley Ridley, and UMass’ Andy Isabella.
But the biggest need heading into Day 2 remains a tight end, with a Gronkowski-sized hole to fill on the depth chart. While there is no Gronk in the draft, the good news for the Patriots is there are still some extremely talented tight ends available. Alabama’s Irv Smith Jr. and Texas A&M’s Jace Sternberger are both still up for grabs and are projected to go sometime in the second round. New England may need to move up to land either of them, If the Patriots want to double dip at the position, Kahale Warring of San Diego State, Kaden Smith of Stanford, and Drew Sample of Washington are some later-round options.
The elephant in the room, of course, is whether or not the Patriots will draft a quarterback to potentially groom as Tom Brady’s eventual successor. If the 42-year-old QB plays for another three years, that would give whichever youngster the Pats draft time to learn the system and learn under Brady. West Virginia’s Will Grier, Missouri’s Drew Lock, and NC State’s Ryan Finley are potential picks for New England.
While teams are much better off being early rather than late when it comes to finding a QB of the future, the Patriots do have some more pressing needs for the present. There’s a void on the edge with Trey Flowers now in Detroit, and Michigan’s Chase Winovich or Boston College’s Zach Allen would help in that department. And with a very veteran group in their defensive backfield, the Pats could get a little younger at both corner and safety. It would be nice to see them address those areas before taking a quarterback, unless Belichick truly believes he has that “next guy” to lead the franchise.
Teams have seven minutes to make their picks in the second round and five minutes to do so in the third, so Friday night should go much quicker than Thursday’s drawn out first round. A pair of current Patriots players will make some appearances as well, with linebacker Dont’a Hightower set to announce a second-round pick and starting center David Andrews getting the honors in the third-round.
Friday night’s draft action kicks off at 7 p.m.