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10 Key takeaways from Patriots 2021 draft

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With the conclusion of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Patriots wrapped up a productive weekend that saw them add eight players to their roster. The team kicked things off with a big splash on quarterback Mac Jones at 15th overall, but he was far from the only significant addition to their roster.

New England still has room to add some undrafted rookie free agents, but for the most part, we now have a good sense of how the 2021 Patriots are shaping up, where their strengths and weaknesses could potentially lie and where the most interesting position battles will likely take place.

One thing is clear, this is a significantly stronger and deeper roster than 2020's was.

Here are the 10 key takeaways from the Patriots 2021 draft.

1. A New Hope

The long-term question at the most important position in the game hung over everything entering the draft and the Patriots were patient and were rewarded with Mac Jones, an excellent fit who very much wanted to be a Patriot. As Bill Belichick made clear, Cam Newton is still the team's starting quarterback, but having a young first-round pick developing behind the scenes is a good feeling to have.

2. New Front Seven

After signing or re-signing eight free agents to their defensive front seven, the Patriots spent three more draft picks on it as well. The team made their only trade of this draft to move up for Christian Barmore, the best defensive lineman in the draft. Add in edge player Ronnie Perkins and linebacker Cameron McGrone, who Bill Belichick revealed might not be available until 2022, and the team is stacked with intrigue.

3. No Patriots Players Traded

There was speculation before the draft if the Patriots might package one of their veteran players to make a big splash in the draft but in the end, the team chose to keep their existing roster intact.

4. Needs not filled?

No draft will ever fill out a roster depth perfectly and the Patriots could have some things to consider regarding their depth along the offensive line and at cornerback. But make no mistake, with a projected 81 roster spots filled after the eight draft selections, at least nine undrafted rookies should also be headed to Foxboro.

5. Free agents lead the way on offense

The Patriots had a workman-like draft on offense, taking a quarterback, a receiver, a running back and a tackle, all positions in need of additional depth, but Rhamondre Stevenson is likely the only one who could see immediate action. That means that 2021's offense will largely be led by the signings in free agency -- tight ends Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry, receivers Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne and quarterback Cam Newton. The veteran offensive line and backfield will help lead the way, while Jakobi Meyers, N'Keal Harry and Devin Asiasi are x-factors.

6. Barmore worth the only trade

It's was a slow day for Trader Bills, as the Patriots executed just one trade on the day. Though the team was active along the defensive front in free agency, Barmore was too good to pass up. While he played up and down the line at Alabama, his pass rush skills will bring a needed element to the third-down defense immediately.

7. Ernie's last draft

Bill Belichick said on his post-draft Webex conference that this was Ernie Adams' last draft. Adams has long been a trusted confidant and advisor to Belichick whose fingerprints are all over the last 20 years of success. His insight into the prospects will surely be missed in 2022.

8. Can day three depth factor?

The Patriots found a gem in Michael Onewenu last season, could one of this year's day three picks make a similar impact? Fans were excited to see receiver Tre Nixon in the 7th round, while Will Sherman's versatility could be a great asset and Rhamondre Stevenson looks like a wrecking ball in the mold of LeGarrette Blount.

9. Kicker competition appears set

There was some question if the Patriots might consider drafting one of the kickers this year, but for now, it appears that camp will feature Nick Folk, coming off one of the best years of his career in his 13th season, against Roberto Aguayo for the kicker competition.

10 Let the UDFAs come

Now we turn the page to what should continue to be a crazy draft weekend with the signings of the undrafted rookie free agents. Last season it was J.J. Taylor and Myles Bryant, who will it be in 2021?

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