Draft Day 3 Recap: Pats add pair of linebackers, depth at key positions
John Wilcox / Boston Herald
The third day of the 2018 draft was as busy as the first two for the Patriots--Bill Belichick continued to trade his way all over the draft board as the Patriots selected six players and leveraged their capital to add new picks to next year's class as well.
The Patriots made five selections on the day, beginning with Purdue linebacker Ja'Whaun Bentley in Round 5 and ending with Florida State tight end Ryan Izzo in the seventh. Along the way, they added two extra picks (a third and a seventh) for the 2019 draft, and helped fill out the roster with four other players. Arizona State LB Christian Sam (178 overall) should pair with Bentley to add depth and skill to the linebacking corps (Bentley in the middle and Sam outside), while Miami slot receiver Braxton Berrios (210 overall) could be the next Danny Amendola and Western Carolina DB Keion Crossen (243 overall) has the athletic attributes to stand out in a crowded defensive back field.
Filling out the day, aside from the aforementioned Izzo, was LSU quarterback Danny Etling at #219. While he's a far cry from the flashy prospects many fans hoped the Pats would draft (*cough* Lamar Jackson *cough*), he was one of the most turnover-averse signal-callers in the nation and could challenge Brian Hoyer to become Brady's principal backup. At the very least, he may offer some increased trade value a year from now for some QB-needy team looking for a flier with experience in a winning system.
Out of all six picks, Berrios and Bentley should have the most immediate impact, while Sam and Izzo may manage to replace some veterans already on the roster. Bentley will help phase out Elandon Roberts in run-stuffing situations almost immediately, while Berrios has the traits (white, scrappy, quick, good-looking slot receiver) to become Tom Brady's new favorite target. Over time, Sam may take over for Kyle Van Noy if he can improve some coverage skills, and Izzy's blocking skill set largely mirrors that of Dwayne Allen. While there may have been more intriguing, higher-upside options available, these four have the opportunity to become solid contributors in New 1 for years to come.
Finally, the Pats also added more picks for next year's class on top of this year's haul. A deal with the Lions netted New England a 2019 third-rounder in exchange for this year's 114th overall selection, and a similar swap with the Eagles resulted in the Pats moving down 17 picks (from 233 to 250) for an additional seventh-rounder in next year's draft. It's highly unlikely those picks will still be with the team when draft season next year rolls around, but the added flexibility they provide will certainly come in handy in training camp and in the run-up to this season.1