By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The 2020 NFL Draft is in the books, and it was an interesting one for the New England Patriots. While Bill Belichick’s dog may have stolen the show on Friday night, the team added 10 players to the roster as they prepare for the post-Tom Brady era in Foxboro.
None of those players were a quarterback, though. Or a wide receiver. Interesting.
Instead, the Patriots focused on defense early on in the process, addressing a few areas of need. Belichick did so in a truly Belichickian fashion, because of course he did.
He took a kid out of Division II with his first pick in the draft. (Or as it appeared at the time, Belichick’s pooch made the pick.) He took someone from Nick Saban’s defense. When the focus shifted to offense, Belichick drafted a pair of tight ends for the first time since 2010. And, of course, he was the first to draft a kicker in 2020, though being the Patriots, it wasn’t the kicker pundits projected to be the first off the board.
But Perhaps the biggest takeaway is that New England did not draft a quarterback. That is a gigantic win for one Jarrett Stidham — at least for now.
The Patriots could still add one off the undrafted free agent market come Sunday, and potentially sign a veteran ahead of the season, but the Pats were the only team in the AFC East not to draft a quarterback this year. That’s a bit odd considering Stidham and Brian Hoyer make up their depth chart at the moment. But director of player personnel Nick Caserio said Friday night that there will be a third quarterback added at some point this offseason, so stay tuned. Cody Kessler must be staring at his phone right this very moment.
The Patriots had 12 picks heading into the start of the draft, and they ended up using just four of those as scheduled. They made five trades over the three days, and four of those were to move up and select someone they wanted. They key word with just about every pick was versatility.
It has been a long process, so here is the rundown of everything the Patriots did at the 2020 NFL Draft.
Thursday — Round 1
Trade Out: Patriots Send Pick No. 23 To L.A. Chargers For Picks Nos. 37 and 71
The Patriots did not have a second-round selection entering the draft, having sent it to Atlanta for wide receiver Mohamed Sanu at last season’s trade deadline. But that changed in the late hours of Thursday evening, and they picked up an additional third-round pick as well.
In trading out of the first round, this was the third time in the past five years that New England did not make a first-round selection, and fourth time over the past eight years.
Friday — Rounds 2 & 3
This was a busy, busy night for Bill Belichick (and his dog) and Caserio. The Patriots made five selections and three trades on Day 2. They entered the day with five picks — No. 37 in the second round, and Nos. 71, 81, 87, 98, and 100 in the third round. They only made two of those scheduled picks.
Pick No. 37: Kyle Dugger, S, Lenoir-Rhyne (Division II)
The Patriots injected some youth into their safety corps by taking Dugger, a fast and hard-hitting safety who dominated Division II competition for the last four years. He’s also a skilled punt returner, so he should make an immediate impact on special teams as he learns under Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung.
Trade Up: Patriots Send Picks Nos. 71 and 98 to Ravens for Picks Nos. 60 and 129
The Patriots traded away two third-round selections to jump back into the second round. And with that pick…
Pick No. 60: Josh Uche, LB, Michigan
The Pats went versatility again with the 6-foot-1, 245 pounds Michigan linebacker. Uche (pronounced OO-chay) didn’t start a game for the Wolverines until his senior season, but he was always a big part of Don Brown’s defense. He tallied seven sacks as a junior before recording 8.5 sacks and 35 tackles (11.5 for a loss) and two forced fumbles as a senior.
Pick No. 87: Anfernee Jennings, LB, Alabama
What do you know, another versatile defender added to the New England defense. Jennings was a big hitter for Nick Saban, racking up 14.5 sacks, 193 total tackles and 33.5 tackles for a loss while at Alabama. He also came down with a pair of interceptions and two fumble recoveries for the Crimson Tide, winning two national titles.
He carries an amazing story with him as well, as Jennings overcame a pretty horrible knee injury in the 2018 Sugar Bowl that nearly cost him his left leg. At 6-foot-2 and 256 pounds, he will provide more dept at linebacker.
With Uche and Jennings now in the mix, New England’s linebacking corps looks much stronger heading into 2020.
Trade Up: Patriots Send Picks Nos. 100, 139 and 172 to Raiders for Nos. 91 and 159
Just when you thought their night was done, the Patriots traded back into the third round — twice — to address another major area of need, this time on the offensive side of the ball.
Pick No. 91: Devin Asiasi, TE, UCLA
In desperate need of a tight end, the Patriots jumped back into the mix Friday night to take Asiasi, who caught 44 passes for 641 yards and four touchdowns for the Bruins in 2019.
Fittingly, one of the picks the Patriots traded to Las Vegas to draft Asiasi was a pick they acquired from Tampa Bay earlier this week in the Rob Gronkowski trade.
But New England wasn’t done drafting tight ends…
Trade Up: Patriots Send Picks Nos. 125, 129 and 2021 6th-rounder to Jets For Pick No. 101
The Patriots weren’t good with just one tight end in the third round. They liked this next kid so much that Belichick was willing to call the Jets to work out a deal.
Pick No. 101: Dalton Keene, TE, Virginia Tech
It’s easy to see why Belichick traded back into the third to draft Keene. He’s a versatile tight end who can also play some fullback and H-back, in addition to his contributions on special teams. The kid would probably play some defense if Belichick asked him.
He had 59 receptions for 748 yards and eight touchdowns over his 27 games collegiate games, and earned the nickname “Rambo” from his teammates because of his size (6-foot-4, 253 pounds) and physicality.
Saturday — Rounds 4-7
The Patriots entered the final day of the 2020 draft with six picks to make, including four in the sixth round. They ended up making five picks and one trade.
Pick No. 159: Justin Rohrwasser, K, Marshall
With their first pick on Day 3, the Patriots became the first team to draft a kicker in 2020. The New York native spent two years at URI before transferring to Marshall.
He hit on 18 of his 21 field goal attempts in 2019, which included going 2-for-2 on kicks of 50 yards or more. He was 5-for-6 from the 40-49-yard range, which was an improvement from his 2018 season when he went 1-for-5 in that range.
Rohrwasser admits that his kicking style is a little different than others: “I don’t look pretty kicking it,” he told the Marshall athletics website. But the kid exudes confidence, which you want out of a rookie kicker.
But he also brings some baggage with him, which you don’t want out of a rookie kicker.
Trade Up: Patriots Send Picks Nos. 212 and 213 to Colts for Pick No. 182
The Patriots traded up to draft their first offensive lineman of the weekend…
Pick No. 182: Mike Onwenu, G, Michigan
The 6-foot-2, 344-pound Onwenu was a three-year starter for the Wolverines. He was a four-year letterman and a two-time Big Ten third team selection.
He started at right guard in 2019 and did not allow a sack. In addition to starting 35 games at guard, he also played on the PAT/field goal protection unit for the Wolverines.
Pick No. 195: Justin Herron, G, Wake Forest
Herron played tackle in college, but he projects as a guard in the NFL. He stands at 6-foot-4 and 308 pounds, and was a team captain for the Demon Deacons in 2019. Herron started a school record 51 games over his career.
Herron was named to the All-ACC Academic Football Team in 2016, 2017 and 2019. He didn’t start playing football until high school, and off the field, he played trumpet in the Jazz Ensemble and Concert Band at the Bullis School in Potomac, Md.
Pick No. 204: Cassh Maluia, LB, Wyoming
The 6-foot, 248-pound Maluia played 43 games at Wyoming, racking up 197 total tackles, 16.5 tackles for a loss, four interceptions, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries over his four seasons.
As a senior in 2019, Maluia recorded 23 solo tackles and assisted on 24 others, adding six tackles for loss, an interception and three passes defended. He might not make the team, but he’s got a pretty sweet name.
Pick No. 230: Dustin Woodard, C, Memphis
Woodard, who stands at 6-foot-2 and 291 pounds, played all over the offensive line for the Tigers. He started 52 of his 54 games at Memphis and played left guard, right guard and center. He’ll likely compete with Onwenu and Herron for a roster spot.