The 2021 New England Patriots team needs are to focus on several key positions on both sides of the ball. Head Coach Bill Belichick suffered his first losing record since 2000 after going 7-9 last year. The AFC East has had a power shift and the Patriots saw themselves knocked from the top spot.
The departure of New England legend Tom Brady was always going to take a toll on the team’s future success. Cam Newton was looked upon as a bandage at QB with a high reward. New England was one of the several unlucky teams to be affected by the COVID-19 protocols. Newton, Julian Edelman, Sony Michel, and Shaq Mason are just a few names that missed some playing time due to the pandemic and exposure.
Others like Dont’a Hightower, Marcus Cannon, and Patrick Chung opted out before the season started. The real holes and weaknesses on this roster were spotlighted when the main starters weren’t in the lineup. Acquiring some wide receivers and some depth on defense are two of the New England Patriots team needs.
New England Patriots Team Needs: Plus Predictions
Jarrett Stidham Gets One Last Opportunity
Ever since he was drafted, there have been talks of Jarrett Stidham having what it takes to be a long-term starter for New England. When Cam Newton was struggling through the second half of 2020, some wondered why Stidham never got a nod. Reports have since come out that coaches and players were afraid of a debacle if Newton was benched for Stidham. When Stidham did see playing time, there was a sense that there wasn’t trust between his teammates.
Nonetheless, he might be the only option. He knows the playbook and has enough talent to at least give his team a fighting chance. In the pocket, he can be an accurate game manager. The issue is he can crack under pressure quickly and lose in big moments. This is why the quarterback position is potentially one of the New England Patriots team needs.
Brian Hoyer could be signed on another cheap one-year deal and be a teacher for Stidham and any other QB the Patriots may bring in. Cam Newton was productive with his legs but might not be worth the price or hassle. Hoyer is past his days as a full-time starter and won’t give much of a fight for the starting role.
After spending a fourth-round pick on Stidham, New England would be wise to at least take a chance on the young man and prove they didn’t waste a pick on him. Now, that’s not to say the team still can’t find another QB.
The NFL has been very high on this year’s QB class while it seems like many prospects aren’t worthy of as much hype. Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields seem like the two real Day One selections. Trey Lance has some flaws in his fundamentals and mechanics and Mac Jones only had one real year as a good starter. Either one of these young quarterbacks fits in as possible New England Patriots team needs.
Lance or Jones could be a nice pickup for the New England Patriots as long as no one buys into their first-round hype. Either one is talented enough to give Stidham a run for his money and maybe even steal the job. The downside is the Patriots would be investing a likely 2nd or 3rd round pick on one of these QBs who might not be their starter.
A second option is the free-agent market. There have been reports of Marcus Mariota of the Las Vegas Raiders being a possible trade target. Mariota helped increase his value with a decent outing last year and had some success as a starter back with the Titans (Plus he’s an expensive backup for Vegas and they need some cap space). If the front office is willing to give him a shot, Mariota could fill one of the New England Patriots team needs.
There has even been some traction with Jimmy Garoppolo being brought back home to New England. Deshaun Watson is likely out of reach for them but Sam Darnold isn’t. Ryan Fitzpatrick could make an interesting bridge QB and bring some excitement. Mitchell Trubisky and even Josh Rosen are sensible options too.
No matter what other QBs are added, Stidham is looking at his last chance to prove to Belichick he can start and win, and fulfill the New England Patriots team needs. Otherwise, he could be traded or cemented as their permanent backup.
Skill Position Star Power Needed
Cam Newton was a terrible passer in 2020 but you can only blame so much of that on his limited weapons and playmakers. The Patriots have been trying to drain every ounce of production they can out of Julian Edelman and he might be tapped out soon. Unless N’Keal Harry can work up some voodoo and turn into an overnight sensation, he’s run his course as well.
If Edelman happens to be cut and Harry benched, that just leaves Damiere Byrd (who had his first 500+ yard season in five years) and Jakobi Meyers (a UDFA from 2019 who had 700+ yards but zero scores). There’s little experience left on the depth chart, still making wide receiver one of the New England Patriots team needs.
We covered the glaring issues at TE already. Matt LaCosse opted out after being tabbed as the next starter but still only had 13 catches in 2019. The two 2020 rookies were no help at all and Ryan Izzo can’t stay healthy for a full season. If you stand back and take a good look at this current group, there’s little experience and few recognizable names. There’s money available to bring in some solid FAs and a large chunk should be spent here, which would fill the void of the New England Patriots team needs.
Allen Robinson would be perfect and won’t break the bank. Sammy Watkins might want to take a payday over the Kansas City Chiefs. Will Fuller has shown great potential in the past but is a risky option (a cheap one though). The Patriots would be able to afford any of these two and improve their roster immensely. They avoided WR in the 2020 draft but that can’t be the case this year. There are bigger needs for the #15 pick but someone like Terrace Marshall Jr from LSU could be a nice second-round find. Tyler Vaughns and Sage Surratt could be some nice early Day Three steals too.
Hunter Henry might be too expensive with his injury risks. That leaves little to work with past him. Jacob Hollister played well and might be able to break out with New England. Gerald Everett was productive for the Los Angeles Rams. The draft might be a better option in all seriousness. Kyle Pitts is the real deal but the Patriots would have to give up some draft capital and trade up for him. Penn State’s Pat Freiermuth seems like the only other immediate starter to gamble on.
New England Patriots Team Needs: NFL Draft
The New England Patriots are looking at almost $65 million to spend this offseason and they will spend it wherever they can. They need starter-caliber players and won’t be able to fill all of the New England Patriots team needs. Bill Belichick hasn’t had as much success in the draft as he would have liked but he’s got a high football IQ and knows what players he needs.
The New England Patriots team needs are primarily quarterback, linebacker, defensive end, and wide receiver. Other positions that could be considered are tight end, defensive line, safety, and kicker.
We’ve already rambled on enough about the QB situation and how to fix it through the draft. The LB position is a high-profile one that some might see as a strength. That is true when Hightower is on the field but he opted out of 2020 and is now 31 with a year since he last played. It’s also weird to be talking about LB as one of the New England Patriots team needs after they drafted three just last year: Josh Uche, Anfernee Jennings, and Cassh Maluia. Uche was the standout of the three and could be the future of the defense.
Middle linebacker is the weak link here and there’s no real future either. There are better positions to draft in the first round but someone like Chazz Surratt would be a nice addition to Uche for years to come. He would likely be there in the second, maybe even third round.
Kyle Pitts is the most sought out TE in the draft and the Patriots don’t usually get too hyped in trading up. Belichick will trade down out of the first round in an instant but rarely moves up. Now, Boston College’s Hunter Long has the look of a New England TE. He’s got size, athleticism, and more of a Y who can block and catch; a good third or fourth round steal.
New England is about to lose several starting defensive linemen through FA and Chase Winovich isn’t a true pass rusher. Miami’s Gregory Rousseau is one of the top prospects and would be a fine first-round selection to fulfill one of the New England Patriots team needs.
2021 New England Patriots Mock Draft
Round 1- # 15- Gregory Rousseau- DE- Miami
Round 2- #46- Hunter Long- TE- Boston College
Round 3- #97- Pete Werner– LB- Ohio State
Round 4- #121- Tyler Vaughns- WR- USC
Round 4- #139- Dayo Odeyingbo– DT- Vanderbilt
Round 4- #146- Michal Menet– C- Penn State
Round 5- # 160- Damar Hamlin– S- Pittsburgh
Round 6- #189- Amen Ogbongbemiga– LB- Oklahoma State
Round 6- #198- Ian Book– QB- Notre Dame
Round 7- #217- Ambry Thomas– CB- Michigan
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