FOXBOROUGH — With a few surprises in the first round, a handful of picks who could have gone in the first round and are good fits for the Patriots will still be available on Day 2 of the NFL Draft.
Only one cornerback went off the board in the first round with the Giants selection of Deandre Baker from Georgia at No. 30. That means LSU’s Greedy Williams, Washington’s Byron Murphy, Temple’s Rock Ya-Sin and Vanderbilt’s Joejuan Williams are still available.
Florida safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson would also be a good fit.
At tight end, Irv Smith Jr. from Alabama is still on the board. The Patriots weren’t drafting high enough to sniff either of the Iowa tight ends, but most evaluators had Smith Jr. as the third-best in the draft.
Wide receivers Deebo Samuel, DK Metcalf and A.J. Brown are still there, too.
At quarterback, Drew Lock and Will Grier are still on the board.
There are two good tackles left in Florida’s Jawaan Taylor and Oklahoma’s Cody Ford.
The Patriots will pick twice in the second round and three times in the third round. They have the No. 24 and No. 32 picks of the second round and the Nos. 9, 33 (compensatory) and 37 (compensatory) of the third round.
While the draft signals that it’s on to next year, there were a few reminders of the recent past at Gillette Stadium Thursday.
First, it appeared as if a bit of construction was going on above the far endzone of the Stadium to make room for the team’s sixth Super Bowl banner. High-class problems, indeed.
Second, at a draft party held for fans, the Lombardi Trophy dented by Rob Gronkowski at the Red Sox home opener was on display. Gronkowski damaged the trophy when he used it as a baseball bat during a Patriots trip to Fenway Park.
Flores goes defense
Dolphins coach Brian Flores could have drafted Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins at No. 13 but went defense with former Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, a native of Springfield, Mass.
Unless the Dolphins pull a trade for Cardinals QB Josh Rosen, that means Miami is sticking with Ryan Fitzpatrick as its QB for 2019. Flores has balked at the notion that the team is going to tank for a quarterback in the 2020 draft, but ownership has given inconsistent statements.
GM Chris Grier told reporters in Miami Thursday night that the team considered both Haskins and Missouri QB Drew Lock as answers but thought it was an “easy decision” to take Wilkins, considered a safe prospect with a great personality that can lead a locker room.
Grier also said the Dolphins are “investigating all avenues” as far as trading with Arizona for Rosen.
Grier said Wilkins was higher on the Dolphins board than Haskins or Lock, but take that, and all post-draft press conferences, with a grain of salt – when a team needs a quarterback, that need dictates pretty much everything they do. Unless Grier really hated this year’s class, they’d have taken a passer if they really wanted one.
The asterisk is the possibility of a Rosen trade but, for now, it looks like at least one AFC East team isn’t going all-in on this season
Iowa TEs taken
Iowa tight ends T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant both went in the first round long before the Patriots had a chance to take them, with Hockenson going at No. 8 to the Lions and Fant going at No. 20 to the Broncos. One reason both were connected to the Patriots was Bill Belichick’s close friendship with Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz. It was the first time in the common draft era two tight ends from the same school were drafted in the first round of the same draft.