By Sterling Pingree
– N’Keal Harry was surprising, I honestly never thought that we would see Bill Belichick draft a receiver in the first round but entering his 20th season as Patriots head coach he just proved that he still has a few tricks up his cut off sleeve. (Not really sure how that would work honestly, but apparently they’re up there.) Most are high on Harry and he definitely represents an under served WR-type in the Patriots offense, one that is known primarily for smaller slot receivers. Harry is a bigger, battle for the ball type of pass catcher who could take some of the red zone targets that have been vacated by Gronk’s retirement.
– Everybody else is saying it, so I will too: Chase Winovich is going to be a cult hero in Foxboro by Thanksgiving. The guy has a crazy motor and flies around the field like people running away from Avengers spoilers on game day. Some worry about his focus but there are reports of him holding teammates accountable for their actions during games. I think there is some risk with this type of crazed personality but if it works, oh boy will it be fun to watch.
– Harry and Winovich grabbed headlines, but to me the name that was taken between the two is more fascinating, not just for what he could contribute in 2019, but what he means for the way Bill Belichick sees this position. The Patriots traded up (something out of the norm that the team did a couple of times in the draft) to the 45th pick to select Vanderbilt cornerback Joejuan Williams. Williams is listed at just a hair shy of 6’4, which is huge for a cornerback. Stephon Gilmore is considered a big corner and he’s listed at 6’1. JC Jackson is a monster, and he’s listed at 6’1 as well. Jackson was an undrafted free agent last season and Gilmore was the biggest free agent signing the year before that. Belichick seems to be moving towards bigger cornerbacks, which might elicit a mere shrug but it got me thinking as to why and where did this transition take place.
I think it has something to do with the Super Bowl LII loss to the Eagles. It could very well be a stretch, but that defense got torched by Nick Foles and his bigger targets like Alshon Jeffery and Zach Ertz. Could this be a contributing reason as to why the Belichick decided to bench Malcolm Butler? Eric Rowe replaced Butler in the game, Rowe is 6’1, Butler is listed at a generous 5’11. With tight ends becoming a bigger and faster part of so many offenses, it makes sense to bulk up your secondary as best you can. Williams work load and development will be fascinating to watch. The thought of having 6’1 Gilmore on one side and 6’3 Joejuan Williams on the other side has me feeling some Revis/Browner kind of way.
– More surprising than the fact that Bill Belichick took a wide out in the first round is that he traded UP to take a punter. Not just any punter, a right footed punter! Bill Belichick has never started a season with a right footed punter. I had to go back and look at this and it’s true: Ken Walter, Josh Miller, Zoltan Mesko and currently Ryan Allen are all left footed. The number of left footed punters has doubled from 5 left footed punters in 2001 to 10 at the start of the 2017 season. And now Bill Belichick has drafted a right footed punter?
Something is afoot.
Sterling Pingree (@SterlingPingree on Twitter) is a co-host on The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at 929TheTicket.com. Follow us on Twitter @DriveShowMaine and “Like us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.