The Patriots may be the defending Super Bowl champions, but they have lots of holes entering the NFL Draft. Fortunately for them, they have more draft capital than any other team in the league, with six picks in the first three rounds.
In an interview Thursday with “Mut & Callahan,” ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter tried to predict what the Patriots will do this weekend. While he doesn’t see them expending an early pick on a quarterback, he thinks it’s possible they could target a tight end like Irv Smith Jr. out of Alabama, depending on whether he’s still on the board.
“I think there’s a chance Irv Smith could be there (at No. 32), depending on how the board falls,” Schefter said.
Given the dearth of pass-catchers on the Patriots’ roster, the possibility remains they could trade one of their second- or third-round picks for a veteran receiver. While Schefter acknowledges that’s a possibility, he says he doesn’t see any great options available.
“The problem is, what are they trading, and who are they trading for?,” Schefter said. “Nelson Agholor, they don’t want his $9.3 million salary. That’s disruptive to what they’re doing. A guy in Atlanta, Mohamed Sanu, I think there might have been some conversations there before. But Atlanta has been unwilling to trade Sanu so far. This team needs help at wide receiver, it needs help at tight end.”
On that note, Schefter speculated former Patriots tight end Benjamin Watson could come out of retirement and rejoin the team in Foxboro. But Watson alone probably wouldn’t be enough.
“I won’t be surprised if somehow Ben Watson coming out of retirement makes his way back at Foxboro. That wouldn’t surprise me down the line,” Schefter said. “But that’s Ben Watson at whatever age he is, and now you’ve got Ben Watson and Austin Seferian-Jenkins. You still need help there. You’re going to need a receiver. So yes, do I think they’re going to look to trade for a veteran wide receiver? Absolutely. But who is that guy who fits in who’s available, they’re willing to go pay the team and the player, what is he making? It’s not a simple thing.”
So does that mean Gronk to the rescue? Not so fast, at least until the clocks turn back.
“The sense that we’ve always gotten is Gronk wants to go be Gronk, have fun, go do whatever he’s going to do, make movies, have parties, live his life, dent trophies. And then come late-November-December, when this team is making its annual postseason push, if he’s so inclined to come back, maybe he could do it at that point in time,” Schefter said. “But I don’t think we’re going to get some proclamation during the draft.”