Now that divisional weekend is over, the football world will shift its focus to the college game for the College Football Playoff National Championship between LSU and Clemson Monday night.
Both teams come in undefeated (13-0) and have a number of top players at their respective positions. Some of these players will be declaring for the NFL draft, so Monday is a good chance to get an up close view at some potential Patriots targets.
New England is in a strange spot when it comes to the draft, as it will select No. 23 overall, but then does not have another selection until Round 3. Its second-round pick was sent to Atlanta in the Mohamed Sanu deal.
Here are five players to keep an eye on from a Patriots perspective.
LSU WR Justin Jefferson
This is one of the best wide receiver classes in recent memory with several expected to go in the first round. While Jefferson isn’t at the very top of the list, he certainly is one of the better ones. Jefferson’s stock rose even more following the semifinal game when he finished with 14 receptions for 227 yards and four touchdowns against Oklahoma. The 6-foot-3 wide out finished the year with 102 catches for 1,434 yards and 18 touchdowns. While the Patriots took N’Keal Harry last year in the first round, it doesn’t mean they couldn’t take a receiver in the first round again this year.
Clemson WR Tee Higgins
The same thoughts on Jefferson apply to Higgins, as he too isn’t at the very top of the wide receivers class, but he's certainly up there. The 6-foot-4 receiver had his best year this season, finishing with 65 catches for 1,115 yards and 13 touchdowns. This came following recording 936 yards and 12 touchdowns a year ago. It is worth noting Bill Belichick rarely selects players from Clemson for whatever reason, so Higgins is the only Clemson player on the list.
LSU DL Rashard Lawrence
Lawrence isn’t a top player at the position by any stretch of the imagination, but he could be a potential target for the Patriots in the middle rounds. He could have declared for the draft last year when he was the defensive MVP in the Fiesta Bowl, but he came back for his senior season and was named to the SEC second-team. If available, Lawrence could be a nice, cost-effective replacement for Danny Shelton and Adam Butler if one of/both depart via free agency.
LSU C Lloyd Cushenberry
A two-year starter at center, Cushenberry still has eligibility left, but there’s a chance he declares for the draft and could be a nice option for a team in the middle rounds. While he’s played center for LSU, he seems like a player who could play any of the interior positions. For the Patriots, they need to start thinking about getting younger on the interior as players like David Andrews and Shaq Mason are no longer considered young.
LSU TE Thaddeus Moss
Moss, the son of Randy, isn’t the best tight end in the draft by any means and he still has another year of college eligibility, so it isn’t a lock he’s available to pro teams come the spring. But, for Patriots fans, he’s still worth watching. In his first year with LSU, he finished with 41 catches for 534 yards and two touchdowns in 11 games. He transferred to the school after playing for NC State his freshman year. Moss had to sit out the 2017 season due to transfer rules and then took a medical red-shirt last season.