BOSTON (CBS) — The 2020 Patriots will look a lot different than the Patriots of the last 20 years. That is no grand proclamation, not with Tom Brady set to don a different jersey for the first time in his career.
But New England’s focus was not on offense during the NFL Draft, instead choosing to address needs on the defensive side of the ball with their first three selections. The Patriots didn’t draft a quarterback, so it’s pretty clear that they’ll be handing the keys over to Jarrett Stidham for 2020.READ MORE: Brookline teachers go on strike, schools closed Monday
The Patriots drafted 10 players and signed a slew of others off the undrafted free agent market over the weekend to help round out there roster. Here’s a look at what the New England depth chart looks like for now — with some more moves potentially coming.
(* denotes 2020 draft picks)
Quarterbacks: Jarrett Stidham, Brian Hoyer
Though Bill Belichick made it sound like he would have liked to have drafted a quarterback this year, the Patriots did not see one fit for any of their 10 selections. They signed a pair of undrafted free agents in Brian Lewerke and J’Mar Smith, but they probably won’t figure too much into New England’s plans under center in 2020.
So for now, Stidham is their guy. That could change at next year’s draft, but Stidham will get every chance to take over at quarterback. He’ll compete with Hoyer for the starting gig in camp, but the Patriots have loads of confidence in their 2019 fourth-round pick. He’ll be their starting quarterback at some point this season.
There are rumors — and Vegas odds — that have the Patriots interested in adding free agent Cam Newton, but they lack cap space to get a deal done. At least at the moment.
Running Backs: Sony Michel, James White, Rex Burkhead, Damien Harris
There hasn’t been any real turnover at this position.
Michel will look to shake off a somewhat down sophomore season, though that likely had to do with the lackluster offensive line in front of him. James White is still James White, and Rex Burkhead is still around to do a little bit of everything (he played 48 percent of the special teams snaps last season). Maybe second-year back Damien Harris will get some run in 2020 after essentially red-shirting his rookie year.
J.J. Taylor — all 5-foot-5 of him — was also added as an UDFA. Hard not to root for a little guy to make the team.
Fullback: Danny Vitale, Jakob Johnson
James Develin retired Monday after and eight-year career with the Patriots. His shoes — and shoulder pads — will be tough to fill.
Wide Receivers: Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry, Mohamed Sanu, Damiere Byrd, Marqise Lee, Jakobi Meyers, Gunner Olszewski
This is the wild card of the offense. It looks to be a talented group on paper, but there are plenty of question marks too. Edelman will turn 34 before the season starts. Sanu struggled upon his arrival at the trade deadline, and Harry missed half his rookie season due to an injury. Can those two catch on this time around — without Tom Brady throwing them passes? Harry showed promise at the end of last season, and he should get plenty of attention in the passing game — if healthy — in 2020.
The Patriots did not draft a receiver over the weekend, in a draft full of talented pass-catchers. They’ll be counting on a HUGE jump from Harry, and potentially from 2019 undrafted free agents Meyers and Olszewski. Veterans Byrd and Lee will also be competing for targets during camp and the preseason (whatever those may look like).
And if you need any more proof that the Pats are giving the keys to Stidham, they signed his former college target, Will Hastings, on the undrafted market this weekend. He’s joined by Sean Riley and Isaiah Zuber as undrafted free agent signings.
Tight Ends: Devin Asiasi*, Dalton Keene*, Matt LaCosse, Ryan Izzo
Perhaps a year too late, but the Patriots added two tight ends in the draft. Asiasi, who caught 44 passes and four touchdowns at UCLA last season, will likely take over the top spot on the depth chart and become an immediate target on offense. Keene does a little bit of everything, playing tight end, H-back and fullback in college, and could help fill the void left by James Develin’s retirement on Monday.
BC’s Jake Burt got a nice contract off the undrafted market, so he has a good shot at making the team as well. That likely means LaCosse or Izzo — or possibly both — will be cut ahead of the season.
Offensive Line: Isaiah Wynn, Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Marcus CannonREAD MORE: Bruins sign defenseman Jakub Zboril to two-year extension
That’s a pretty good starting offensive line, though there’s a chance that Thuney gets traded to clear up a giant chunk of cap space. And as we saw last season, injuries to the line can derail everything on the offensive side of the ball. Getting Andrews back under center should be a big part of righting the ship for 2020, which is a good thing with all the unknown at quarterback. Hopefully, Wynn can stay healthy this season and lock down the left tackle position.
Depth: Yodny Cajuste, Korey Cunningham, Jermaine Eluemunor, Hjalte Froholdt, Justin Herron*, Michael Onwenu*, Dustin Woodard*
Cajuste and Froholdt never got to show what they had as rookies, with both landing on IR before the start of last season. They should provide some much-needed depth this year.
The biggest loss on the offensive line ,though, will be the retirement of coach Dante Scarnecchia.
Defensive Line: Beau Allen, Adam Butler, Brian Cowart, Lawrence Guy, Derek Rivers, John Simon, Deatrich Wise
Losing Danny Shelton hurts, but adding Allen (who has a 6-foot-3, 327-pound frame) will help fill the void next to Adam Butler. Guy is as solid as they come, playing in all 16 games for New England over the last three seasons.
Injuries have limited Rivers to just six games — all in 2018 — after he was taken in the third round in 2017. If healthy, he could get a chance to finally get after the quarterback in 2020. Wise, Simon, Chase Winivoch and rookie Anfernee Jenning will also be let loose along the edge with Rob Ninkovich no longer around to attack opposing QBs.
The Patriots also added a tackle named Bill Murray on the undrafted free agent market, so they’ve got that going for them. Which is nice.
Linebacker: Dont’a Hightower, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Chase Winovich, Brandon Copeland, Shilique Calhoun, Josh Uche*, Anfernee Jennings*, Cassh Maluia*
Hightower is always solid, but the Patriots added some much-needed youth to the linebacker corps at the draft. New England traded back into the second round to snag Uche and selected Jennings in the third round. Bentley, a fifth-round pick in 2018, should get a big bump in playing time in his third NFL season, and Winovich should get more run as a linebacker as well.
Calhoun is the DE/LB hybrid type player that Belichick loves to have on his defense. He played in 15 games last season and was re-signed in March.
Cornerbacks: Stephon Gilmore, J.C. Jackson, Jason McCourty, Jonathan Jones, Joejuan Williams
This is New England’s most stacked position on the roster, led by Gilmore — the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year — and the rising star of Jackson. McCourty and Jones are both solid veterans, so Williams — a second-round pick last year — probably won’t see much playing time in his second NFL season.
Justin Bethel and Lenzy Pipkins are also around for some depth, with Washington’s Myles Bryant added as an undrafted free agent over the weekend.
Safety: Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Adrian Phillips, Kyle Dugger*, Terrence Brooks, Cody Davis
A solid, albeit older group here for the Patriots. The age of McCourty and Chung (both of whom will turn 33 before the season) is a big reason why the Patriots used their first pick in the 2020 draft on Dugger, who dominated Division II competition at Lenoir-Rhyne. Dugger can also return kicks, so he should make an immediate impact even if he doesn’t get a lot of reps on defense.
Phillips, a six-year veteran who played his entire career for the Chargers organization, signed a two-year deal with the Pats in March. A broken arm limited him to seven games last season, but he is a savvy vet who also plays a lot on special teams.
Brooks signed a two-year contract ahead of last season and saw action in 15 games, and also contributed on special teams. Davis was signed in March after spending the last two seasons with Jacksonville.
Special Teams: Justin Rohrwasser (K), Jake Bailey (P), Joe Cardona (LS), Matthew Slater, Brandon King, Brandon Bolden
The Patriots drafted Rohrwasser out of Marshall to replace Stephen Gostkowski. That’s a big kicking shoe to fill for the rookie.
Most of New England’s draft picks will get plenty of run on special teams. The biggest loss is on the sideline, with Joe Judge leaving his spot as Special Teams coordinator to helm the New York Giants.MORE NEWS: Driver hospitalized after tractor trailer tips over on ramp in Weston
Correction: Brandon Bolden did not leave New England via free agency this offseason. We are clearly living in 2018, during much simpler and more normal times.