By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Bill Belichick pulled off one of the most Bill Belichick moves ever on Saturday, trading up to draft a punter in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Yes, you read that right. He traded up to draft a punter. He did so even though the Patriots currently employ Ryan Allen, who was an MVP candidate in New England’s Super Bowl LIII win over the Rams. They also just re-signed Allen this offseason.
Puzzling move? Somewhat. But at least we now get another punter battle in training camp this summer.
Belichick and company traded up to No. 163, sending the 167th and 246th overall picks to the Philadelphia Eagles, to draft Stanford’s Jake Bailey. He’s a right-footed punter, which breaks the trend of the Patriots going with left-footed punters, as they did with Allen (undrafted in 2013) and Zoltan Mesko (fifth round, 2010).
But that right foot of Bailey’s sure can kick the crud out of the football, averaging 43.8 yards per punt over his four years at Stanford. Bailey was voted to the second All-Pac-12 team in both 2017 and 2018, leading the conference in punting yards both years. He also has experience at kickoffs, so he’s a versatile special teamer.
And we really shouldn’t be too shocked at Belichick drafting a special teams player in the fifth round. Long snapper Joe Cardono and special teams ace and captain Matthew Slater were both fifth-round picks, so this is usually when the Patriots address special teams in the draft.
Now let’s start the countdown to training camp. It just got a whole lot more interesting.