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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Thu May 23 - 02:00 PM | Tue May 28 - 11:55 AM

Lazar's Best Available Players for the Patriots on Day Two of the NFL Draft

With the Patriots holding the 34th and 68th selections on Friday, who could New England target after selecting QB Drake Maye in the first round?

Texas wide receiver Adonai Mitchell (5) during game against Rice
Texas wide receiver Adonai Mitchell (5) during game against Rice

The Patriots made the obvious decision to select former North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye with the third overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

We aren't taking a victory lap on Maye being New England's pick yet. As we've discussed for the entire draft cycle, Maye was the perfect combination of talent, upside, and scheme for the Patriots, so we had him as our top target for the Pats in the draft for months. It was a no-brainer, but that doesn't mean the process is over for Maye or the team.

At age 21, Maye is still in a developmental phase as a prospect. Although the talent is undeniable, Maye needs to refine his footwork to become a more consistently accurate passer. The high-end plays are all over Maye's tape, leading the FBS in big-time throws with 78 over the last two seasons (via PFF). However, the North Carolina product will spray routine throws, which is where his footwork can improve to settle down his base.

For offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt, Maye's downfield accuracy and mobility to handle moving pockets fit AVP's vertical-based play-action/boot-action system. But the coaching staff, including QBs coach T.C. McCartney and senior assistant Ben McAdoo, will have to improve Maye's fundamentals to round out his game.

Along with Maye's individual development, Patriots personnel chief Eliot Wolf and company need to hold up their end of the bargain. We can debate whether or not Mac Jones had the physical ability to succeed as an NFL starter, but New England's brass did him zero favors.

During his three seasons as the starter, Jones had a revolving door at coordinator and play-caller, while the Patriots didn't properly build up his supporting cast. New England's receiving corps around Jones was subpar, and the offensive line was up and down. Due to the offensive talent and coaching they had, the Patriots put Jones in a tough spot.

As we segway to days two and three of the draft, the onus is on Wolf to "weaponize" the Drake Maye-led offense and stack offensive talent on the roster to set Maye up to succeed. The Patriots have major needs at wide receiver and offensive tackle, and like with Mac, it's not on Maye to run personnel in Foxborough: go help the kid out, which is where we'll start on day two.

Here are my best available players with the Patriots holding the 34th and 68th selections on Friday:

1. WR Adonai Mitchell, Texas

NFL Potential: Rookie Impact/WR1 Potential

I'm a big believer in Mitchell's game for a few reasons. Mainly, separation quickness and route-running prowess in a bigger frame consistently translate to the next level. Mitchell is a 6-2, 205-pound outside receiver with the fluidity to change directions like a much smaller receiver. At the same time, he also has 4.34 speed to separate over the top, which shows up consistently on double moves set up by his in-breaking routes, and a 39.5-inch vertical to win above the rim. The Texas product has a well-rounded skill set with all the tools to be a high-volume X receiver at the next level. The only knocks on film are that he doesn't always play to his timed speed and needs to be more consistent with his effort level. Mitchell's pro ceiling is as high as any tier-two receiver in this class. My pro comparison is Colts WR Michael Pittman Jr.

2. DB Cooper DeJean, Iowa

Iowa defensive back Cooper DeJean
Iowa defensive back Cooper DeJean

NFL Potential: Rookie Starter

DeJean would be an unpopular pick for the Patriots, with the focus on offense. However, he's a three-phase player with enticing versatility in the defensive backfield, where he'll find a primary home in the NFL. DeJean's long-term position might be as a nickel/safety hybrid due to some hip stiffness in his transitions to play on the outside. However, he's a terrific athlete with the long speed, size (6-0, 203), and explosiveness to play all over the secondary.

My vision for the Iowa product in the Patriots defense would be to use him as a chess piece week-to-week. With last year's first-round pick Christian Gonzalez taking the other team's WR1, DeJean can wear whatever hat he needs to at safety or corner in any given week, serving as a great complement to Gonzo. Plus, he'll compete for reps as a return man and has some Marcus Jones gadget player qualities. If there's any Belichick DNA left in the front office, DeJean will be on their board — he has classic Pats traits of versatility, IQ, and competitive toughness.

3. WR Keon Coleman, Florida State

Florida State wide receiver Keon Coleman (4)
Florida State wide receiver Keon Coleman (4)

Round Projection: Top-50 Pick, NFL Potential: Rookie Starter/WR1 Potential (but with risk)

The age-old debate about in-game play speed versus the 40-yard dash continues. Frankly, Coleman is not my cup of tea. Although his 93rd percentile in-game athleticism score makes you feel better about his 4.61-second 40-yard dash, he's a builder of speed who graded poorly in separation quickness and route running. Coleman is a clunky mover at the top of the route, playing more of a bully-ball style at 6-3, 213 pounds.

Despite some flashy highlights at the catch point, Coleman only caught 33.3% of his contested targets last season (10-of-30). I'm told this is an explosive open-field athlete with high-end ball skills, but Coleman doesn't play to that profile often enough for my liking. As a scared Patriots observer, Coleman's game reminds me too much of N'Keal Harry at ASU. The potential is there for Coleman, who still hasn't turned 21. However, I'm more about the route-running technicians than receivers in the Coleman mold.

4. CB Mike Sainristil, Michigan

Michigan defensive back Mike Sainristil (0)
Michigan defensive back Mike Sainristil (0)

Round Projection: Round Two, NFL Potential: Rookie Starter/High-Impact Player

As a local product from Everett, MA, Sainristil has the cover talent and aggressiveness to blossom into a standout corner. He'll likely find a permanent home in the slot, but Sainristil held his own playing on the boundary and could play outside when matched against specific body types. Sainristil is a strappy man coverage player with great ball skills and long speed to carry vertical routes from the slot while also having excellent awareness from zone coverage. Although he's got a smaller frame (5-9. 182), Sainristil can lay the wood as a downhill striker and plays the run like a much bigger player. He'd be a great long-term replacement for Jonathan Jones in the Patriots secondary.

5. WR Ladd McConkey, Georgia

Georgia wide receiver Ladd McConkey (84)
Georgia wide receiver Ladd McConkey (84)

Round Projection: Round Two, NFL Potential: Rookie Starter/High-Impact Player

Based on the film, I'd usually have a player with McConkey's skill set higher in my rankings. He's a silky smooth route-runner with excellent vertical burst to open up defensive backs for horizontal breaks. The Georgia product runs more vertical stems on the outside than the stereotypes would suggest, with legit acceleration off the line that DBs have to respect. But he ultimately wins with stop on a dime change of direction ability at the first two levels. The reason he's not higher on my wide receiver rankings is some struggles playing through contact at 5-11, 186 pounds, and a lack of tape due to injuries. McConkey was highly efficient, catching 30-of-37 targets for 483 yards last season. But he missed games due to ankle and back injuries in 2023. The 22-year-old has first-round traits, but there's some risk due to his smaller frame.

6. WR Roman Wilson, Michigan

Michigan wide receiver Roman Wilson
Michigan wide receiver Roman Wilson

Round Projection: Round Two, NFL Potential: Rookie Starter/High-Impact Player

Wilson is one of "my guys" in this draft with a clear projection for high-volume NFL production. The Michigan product has chain-moving quickness, excellent speed to create horizontal separation working across the field, and reliable hands to make catches in traffic outside his frame. Michigan moved him all over the formation and often put him in motion at the snap, with a role that resembles Lions All-Pro receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown. St. Brown is better as a ball carrier than Wilson, but they ran similar route trees. Wilson's stock would be much higher if he was in a pass-heavy FBS offense. He has a 100-catch season in his near NFL future.

7. OT Kingsley Suamataia, BYU

BYU offensive lineman Kingsley Suamataia (78)
BYU offensive lineman Kingsley Suamataia (78)

Round Projection: Round Two, NFL Potential: Starter by Year Two/High-Upside Prospect

Suamataia is the day-two tackle I'm pounding on the table for the Patriots to select. The BYU product moves like his cousin, Penei Sewell, without the technical polish that made Sewell the seventh overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Suamataia is a dynamic on-the-move blocker at left or right tackle with excellent lateral quickness out of his stance for zone schemes and rare athleticism in space on pulls, climbs, and screens. Kingsley also has the desired footspeed in his pass sets to mirror and match pass rushers on an island. However, he'll sometimes lose his technique, playing out of control, and needs to re-work his hand carriage to keep them inside the frame of pass rushers. Suamataia won't likely be a day-one starter, but he has the highest upside among the day-two guys.

8. WR Troy Franklin, Oregon

Oregon wide receiver Troy Franklin
Oregon wide receiver Troy Franklin

Round Projection: Day Two, NFL Potential: Complementary Playmaker

My initial instinct was to leave Franklin off my big board. At 6-2, 176 pounds, Franklin is rail thin in a very similar frame as Tyquan Thornton (6-2, 181). Why would the Patriots take another slender speed receiver after just whiffing on Thornton? Fool me once, right? Well, the Pats hosting Franklin on a 30 visit put him back on the board.

Although play strength and finishing through contact at the catch point are major red flags, Franklin is a much more dynamic route-runner than Thornton. He's more in a Jerry Jeudy mold as a pure separator, with a savvy release package and noticeable polish on fades, crossers, double moves, slants, and comebacks. Franklin was also highly productive, averaging 3.3 yards per route run (third-best among the 2024 class). There are major red flags due to Franklin's overlap with Thornton, but he's a much more technically savvy route-runner entering the NFL.

9. OT Patrick Paul, Houston

Houston offensive lineman Patrick Paul (76)
Houston offensive lineman Patrick Paul (76)

Round Projection: Day Two, NFL Potential: Starter by Year Two/Developmental Prospect

Despite making 44 career starts in college, Paul is still a developmental prospect. Paul can eclipse rushers with his 6-7, 331-pound frame and end the rush early by stalling rushers with over 36-inch arms. He's a massive dude with enough foot quickness at his size and is a mean finisher. However, his hand technique needs to be reworked entirely, as he tends to bear hug rushers rather than get inside with a stiff punch to the chest. He also plays with high pads and will lunge into contact. Paul still needs significant technique work, but he has a massive frame with starting-caliber movement skills and play strength.

10. TE Ja'Tavion Sanders, Texas

Texas tight end Ja'Tavion Sanders
Texas tight end Ja'Tavion Sanders

Round Projection: Round Two, NFL Potential: Complementary Playmaker

Sanders is a flex tight end who will stretch the middle of the field as a seam, is savvy enough to work open in zone coverage, and presents high-end YAC value with a 7.7 YAC average last season. In a bootleg/play-action-heavy scheme, it's easy to see Sanders exploding past the second level up the seam, out-running defenders on crossers, or getting chunks of yards on passes into the flats as the Patriots version of David Njoku.

Honorable Mentions

WR Ja'Lynn Polk, Washington - Polk doesn't have the downfield speed the Patriots might covet, but he's incredibly tough with excellent ball skills and good initial burst off the line.

OT Roger Rosengarten, Washington - Rosengarten protected Michael Penix's blindside on the right side of Washington's offensive line. He's an excellent fit in a zone scheme, which the Pats are transitioning to under Van Pelt. He could be the day-two guy who ends up as a top OT.

WR Jalen McMillan, Washington - We've been using the same comparison for McMillan all draft season: Jakobi Meyers with 4.47 speed. McMillan is great at the top of the route.

EDGE Austin Booker, Kansas - Booker has very little tape with only 505 career snaps, but his pass-rush toolbox runs deep, and he has excellent fluidity to use effective inside counters.

CB Cam Hart, Notre Dame - The Patriots could use another big-bodied corner who can match up on the outside, and Hart fits the mold as an ultra-physical press-man cover talent.

TE Ben Sinnott, Kansas State - Sinnott blends solid college production for the position with an enticing athletic profile (9.73 RAS). The Kansas State product is a movable chess piece and an effective seam runner.

OT Blake Fisher, Notre Dame - Fisher is a young ball of clay with enticing tools to develop. Patriots O-Line coach Scott Peters worked closely with Fisher at his Pro Day.

WR Javon Baker, UCF - Baker is a late bloomer after transferring from Alabama, but he's a smooth route-runner with some eye-popping route breaks and a good ability to track the ball over his shoulder.

WR Devontez Walker, North Carolina - The Patriots took his college quarterback. Would they pair Maye with his college teamate who is an excellent deep threat? Walker has the X receiver skill set the Pats need.

DISCLAIMER: The views and thoughts expressed in this article are those of the writer and don't necessarily reflect those of the organization. Read Full Disclaimer

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