It would be an upset at this point if the New England Patriots didn’t take a pass rusher with one of their first selections in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Defensive end is the Patriots’ top remaining offseason need, it’s a deep class at the position, and the Patriots are doing their due diligence on most of this year’s second-tier prospects. Usually when the Patriots concentrate heavily on one position, they wind up selecting one or more players at that spot. The Patriots met with many top quarterbacks in 2014 and drafted Jimmy Garoppolo, for instance.
East-West Shrine Game
Colorado DE/OLB Jimmie Gilbert, Round 7
Tennessee DE Derek Barnett, Round 1
Wisconsin OLB/DE T.J. Watt, Round 2
Ohio DE/OLB Tarell Basham, Round 2
Villanova DE Tanoh Kpassagnon, Round 3-4
Florida DE/OLB Bryan Cox, Jr., Round 7
BYU DE/OLB/ILB Harvey Langi, Round 7
BYU DE/OLB Sae Tautu, Round 7
The Patriots don’t currently have a draft pick in the first two round, so players like Harris, Lawson, Barnett, Watt and Basham might be out of the question for now.
Among the players listed above, Willis, Phillips, Basham, Rivers, Kpassagnon and Watt fit what the Patriots typically look for in an edge player based on their size and testing numbers.
Langi, who also played linebacker and running back with the Cougars, apparently has been the object of the Patriots’ attention for years.
"Bill Belichick said that if Harvey Langi was in the draft last year, they would've taken him in the first round" @BradyPoppinga
— ESPN960Sports (@espn960sports) August 30, 2016
Drafting Langi even in the third round would appear to be a reach for New England, but a Patriots scout was overheard telling him, “We enjoyed watching you the past couple years” at BYU’s pro day.
Langi had 57 tackles, five tackles for loss and two sacks in 2016. He had 66 tackles, 6 1/2 tackles for loss and 4 1/2 sacks in 2015. He also had 25 career carries for 102 yards with two touchdowns at BYU.
Looking deeper, Langi recorded 25 total pressures on 211 pass rush snaps, according to Pro Football Focus’ Draft Edge. He had a 7.7 run stop percentage, per PFF.
The Patriots need at least one more pass rusher to fill out their 53-man roster before training camp begins. They could take two of the above players later this month.
Thumbnail photo via Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports Images