FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – After a short night's sleep, the Patriots coaching and personnel staffs were back at Gillette Stadium Friday to continue preparing for the second and third rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Earlier in the day, New England welcomed its first-round draft choice, QB Mac Jones, to Foxborough in a jersey presentation ceremony and meet-and-greet appearance with the media. Then, the draft action resumed at 7 p.m., with the Patriots entering the night owning a pair of picks, one in each round (the 46th and 96th overall choices).
But they couldn't wait that long. Before they could even get to their first choice in Round 2, the Patriots consummated a deal with the Cincinnati Bengals to move up eight spots to the 38th overall slot. In exchange for the Bengals' pick, New England sent its original 46th overall choice, plus a pair of fourth-round selections (122nd and 139th overall) to Cincinnati. Head coach Bill Belichick told reporters later that he and his staff "felt good about acquiring that [pick]."
There, New England chose its second player from the defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide, defensive tackle Christian Barmore (6-4, 310).
After showing some vulnerability up front on defense last season, the Patriots have made their D-line a point of emphasis this offseason, with free agent additions, retaining a some key veterans, and now the choice of Barmore to increase the roster's depth. In just two seasons with Alabama, Barmore registered 63 total tackles, plus 10 sacks, eight of which came last season.
Proclaiming the Patriots his favorite NFL team when he was growing up, Barmore called his selection by New England "a dream come true, like a blessing from God," during a conference call with the media.
Asked where he thinks he might fit best in New England's defense, Barmore responded, "Wherever Coach [Belichick] puts me, I'm just ready… I just want to work hard and be the best player I can be for the team."
"He's shown good ability as a pass rusher," Belichick commented about Barmore. "He has a good knack, good instincts for his size. He hasn't played a ton of football, but obviously practices against a lot of good players. He's been a productive player for Alabama."
It was a relatively long wait from then on for the Patriots, who didn't pick again till the end of Round 3. With the 96th overall choice in the draft, New England again went for defensive line help, selecting Oklahoma edge rusher Ronnie Perkins (6-2, 253). Since his true freshman year in 2018, Perkins has been a regular starter for the Sooners, averaging 5.5 sacks per season.
"Ronnie's a disruptive player," added Belichick, "versatile player, both ends of the line. He's dropped [into pass coverage] on occasion. He's productive in the running game, the passing game, against screens. He has a nose for the ball, and he's a tough player."
"It's surreal… Can't wrap my mind around it," Perkins remarked to reporters moments after he was chosen by New England. "I'm so excited for the opportunity to be coached by Coach Belichick. I just can't wait to go in and learn."
When the draft resumes at midday Saturday, the Patriots, as it currently stands, will have five more picks: one each in the fourth, fifth, and seventh rounds, plus a pair in the sixth.