Bill Belichick, Patriots
Nov 15, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick during the game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
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New England Patriots need home runs in draft this year

The New England Patriots have one of the biggest safety nets in NFL history. With Tom Brady under center and Bill Belichick on the sidelines, the Patriots have always been able to gamble on high-risk free agents/trade targets and boom-or-bust draft selections.

This year, they don’t have that same luxury.

New England is trying to reach the Super Bowl for the fourth consecutive season, something that hasn’t happened before or since the Buffalo Bills did so from 1990-93.


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However, the New England Patriots are charging at that challenge with some obstacles in the early going. They watched as future Hall of Fame tight end Rob Gronkowski retired at the age of 29, while edge rusher Trey Flowers left in free agency for a five-year, $90 million deal with the Detroit Lions. While New England did trade for pass-rushing defensive lineman Michael Bennett, there remains work to be done.

Looking at the draft, New England has more ammunition than anybody else. The Patriots hold a league-high 12 picks in the upcoming proceedings, including a pair of second-round choices and a trio of third-round picks. New England can move up or down the board, and while Belichick typically enjoys moving down and collecting more draft capital, he might want to reverse his thinking this time around.

While Brady appears to be the ageless wonder, he’s turning 42 years old in August. At some juncture, Father Time is going to catch up with the six-time Super Bowl champ. In that vein, New England should be looking to nab a couple of impact players for 2019, perhaps an edge rusher, tight end and wide receiver. While it’s a pipe dream to come away with all of those things in a single haul, the goal should be to identify players at those positions who can contribute now, and then aggressively pursue them.


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The New England Patriots have long been building a hoard of draft picks, only to push the bounty back time and again. With Brady close to the end of his career, the time is now to cash in.

New England should also be spurred on by its competition. The Patriots are still the clear class of the AFC East, but the rest of the AFC is improving. The Indianapolis Colts are brimming with talent, the Cleveland Browns are surging and the Kansas City Chiefs were an offsides penalty away from beating New England in the AFC title game. Speaking of Kansas City, the Chiefs added pass-rusher Frank Clark on Tuesday, giving them more talent to throw at Belichick and Co.

Come the draft, New England should be acting with urgency.

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