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This has shaped up to be a classic Belichick draft."WhitePatriots News Opinion and Analysis Contribute! FanPostsFanShotsAbout the Site List of Patriots Twitter AccountsWrite For Pats Pulpit!New User Welcome and Commenting GuideCommunity GuidelinesMastheadTopics Patriots Off-Season CoveragePatriots Opinion/AnalysisPatriots NewsPatriots Draft CoverageSportfolio ManagementNFL DraftPatriots Opinion/AnalysisNFL Draft GradesPC’s Picks: My take on the Patriots selecting Joejuan Williams in round two of the 2019 NFL draftNew White Ryan Allen Jerseys ,76commentsThis has shaped up to be a classic Belichick draft. EDTShareTweetShareSharePC’s Picks: My take on the Patriots selecting Joejuan Williams in round two of the 2019 NFL draftTrevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY SportsThis draft has been a quintessential Belichick performance. A potential reach for a defensive back in the 2nd round? Check. Drafting at positions of apparent strength? Check. Drafting regardless of positional value? Check. Drafting pure special teamers a bit too high? Of course. Drafting questionably early and seizing superior paper value later on? You know it.Let’s continue breaking down the Patriots’ draft with the aforementioned DB.45th Overall: Joejuan Willams, CB Belichick just can’t help himself. Despite the elite combination of depth and talent in the secondary he seems to view selecting controversial second round DB’s as sacrosanct. Perhaps a part of the deal he struck with Satan to get Tom Brady in the sixth? I’d buy it. Grade: BWhat I LikeThe first thing that stands out is the most obvious. Williams is massive for a player of his position. His height and weight are in the 95+ percentile and his arm length, hands and wingspan all in the 85+ percentile. If you were designing a corner in a lab to match up with big receivers and tight ends it would look exactly like the Vanderbilt product.The second thing to stand out is his attitude: he’s got the Ramsey/Sherman swagger, you know, the loud hyper confidence that borders on arrogance. Here is the thing though. If there was one position I could pick where cockiness is an advantage it would be cornerback. Every corner gets burned but the best corners have the memory of a gnat. Williams is not going to be intimidated by anyone which is the perfect attitude for a corner and a great mentality to bring to the defense. Williams is also my favorite type of corner — a guy who excels at physical press-man coverage. Good press-man corners are hard to find but they also tend to be the types of corners receiver dread the most. Vanderbilt used Williams all over the place to help disguise their coverage's, something Belichick will almost certainly like to do as well.Another thing to like is that Williams played against SEC competition. If you are projecting to the NFL SEC competition is the best to play against. And Williams did not simply play against the best he put the Fear of God in them. There were games where teams just flat out avoided Williams’ side of the field. I think tackling and run support are overvalued traits in corners but that doesn’t mean they don’t have value. Williams is a good tackler and happy to play run support. Williams is also reportedly big into film which is a trait I value significantly.There were numerous media draftniks who said that Williams was being slept on and that he was the best cornerback prospect in the draft, albeit in a class without a lot of great corners. The scuttlebutt is that the Patriots considered taking Williams at #32, and since we know they traded up to get him, I am inclined to believe the rumor they had a first round value on him. I think the best case scenario would be a unicorn player who can successfully cover most receivers AND tight ends at a high level. What Concerns MeThe first is the context of the pick. The Patriots passed on numerous talented players at positions of need, and gave up valuable draft capital, to draft a player for a position with no pressing need. None of that matters if he is a good player but it will rub salt in the wound if he is not. The other issue is the widely varying grades on Williams. For every one draftnik with a first-round grade on Williams, there were several others who had him graded as a day three talent. If he busts this will look like a classic second round defensive back reach. If I had to pick my biggest concern of Williams it would be his athletic limitations. A lot of people compare William to Richard Sherman because their 40-yard times damaged their draft stocks, but Sherman was above average in his testing outside of his 40 time. The same thing cannot be confirmed of Williams because he only did the bench press and the 40. The biggest reason people don’t take a test is if they know they will flunk. Suspicion of issues is far better than confirmation of issues.As successful as he was in college the lack of athleticism showed up on tape and that disparity will only deepen in the NFL.Personally, I think that is the biggest reason some people are down on him. If he’s a success he’s going to be a very unique success. Frankly, as long Williams plays in the low 4.5’s his speed is not a concern for me. He’s going to be fast enough to keep up with most big receivers and any tight ends. The long speed isn’t really a worry for me. The lack of overall athleticism is the red flag for me.There are plenty of players who are successful in spite of crappy measurables. But when you lack measurables you have to make it up by being that much better of a player. Williams struggled with good route runners and makes some silly errors in zone. He also tends to be a bit of a boom-or-bust player: he can suffocate receivers to death but he also gets torched more frequently that you would like.He has to get more consistent with what he does well and he has to develop a variety of ways to compensate for his lack of athleticism. The good news is he should have plenty of time to do that. I think the worst case scenario is that he fails to develop as a player and the lack of athleticism dooms him to mediocrity. Closing Thoughts on the GradeMy grades are arbitrary and snap shot. The truth is that it will take years to accurately judge these picks. Consider Marcus Cannon who was universally reviled in 2015 before anchoring the right side for three straight Super Bowl berths, two championships, and one second-team All-Pro. The Patriots have access to infinitely more experience, eyes, data Ryan Allen Jerseys 2019 , and talent than I do.On the flip side that same wealth of experience, eyes, data and skill at scouting took Jordan Richards in the second round. A guy who was projected as a seventh rounder and played like a player who should never have been drafted. No one’s perfect. This exercise is more about getting to know a player than it is a sweeping endorsement or condemnation of a pick.Pats Pulpit reacts to the Joejuan Williams pickSubscribe to the Pats Pulpit podcast for more draft reactions!For Joejuan Williams there were several things that kept him from being an A. The first was the wildly varying scouting reports and his clear athletic deficiencies. There is real risk of a bust there. He was also docked for being at a position of existing strength, having a potentially limited role, and costing significant resources to get. Keep in mind when I dock the Patriots for the resources spent it’s not because I’m against trading up — if you believe in your guy get him. It’s not “overpaying” if you hit on them. But it obviously does increase the risk associated with selection.The reason I gave it a B instead of a C is that I see this as an innovative pick that is the direct result of another innovative pick Belichick made in the second round in 2010: Rob Gronkowski changed the way the entire NFL views the tight end position and the proliferation of tight end talents has steadily grown over the last decade. Another recent trend in the NFL, albeit not prompted by the Patriots, is the big slot and the big outside receiver. If Williams pans out the way I hope he does he will carve out a unique role in the NFL as a TE/WR coverage corner.I really liked some of his tape and reputed intangibles too. At the end of the day I always prefer good players with mediocre athleticism to good athletes who are mediocre players.I’m also encouraged by reports that they had a first round grade on Williams. It’s extremely rare to see the Patriots whiff completely on a first round pick. The only times the Patriots have really whiffed completely have been injury-related. Remember, the Patriots almost assuredly did not have 32 players worth of first round grades. If they had a first round grade on Williams then it means they probably saw him as top-20 player in this class.If that’s how it pans out he will have been a steal. The specter of the second round reach definitely lingers over this pick but I am cautiously optimistic. The last time the New England Patriots played against the Philadelphia Eagles, their defense had one of the worst outings of Bill Belichick’s tenure as head coach: not only did Philadelphia gain 538 yards of offense and convert 10 of 16 third downs as well as both of its fourth down attempts, the team also put 41 points on the board en route to helping the Eagles win their first ever Super Bowl.A lot has changed since then, however, and the Patriots’ defense has been transformed into the league’s best over the last two years (one that did help bring another championship to New England just one year after the fiasco against the Eagles): gone are coordinator Matt Patricia and most of the defensive position coaches from the 2017 season, while only nine of the 24 defenders on the 53-man roster that day are still with the club. Some things have not changed since the 2017 season, however, and the Patriots defense needs to be aware of their potential impact on Sunday’s game in Philadelphia — at least according to Brandon Lee Gowton, managing editor at Bleeding Green Nation. He was asked earlier this week about which player New England should try to take away in the upcoming game, and his answer was a throwback to the Super Bowl.“I think the Patriots will try to take away the man who beat them for the game-winning touchdown on February 4, 2018 — Zach Ertz,” said Brandon. “Ertz is the most reliable option in the Eagles’ passing attack; he’s basically Carson Wentz’s best friend both on and off the field. If [Alshon] Jeffery isn’t able to play White James Develin Jerseys , the Pats should just have Stephon Gilmore shadow Ertz and force the Eagles to try throwing to their woeful wide receivers.”“This will trigger any BGN readers reading this exchange but look at how awful these numbers are,” continued Brandon:The Eagles’ passing game runs mainly through the tight end position, with Ertz leading the team in both receptions (46) and receiving yards (527) and ranking second with a pair of touchdown catches on his name. Limiting the 29-year-old’s production — with number one cornerback Stephon Gilmore a leading candidate to be used in this capacity, at least on a rotational basis — has to be a key for the Patriots’ defense.However, slowing down Philadelphia’s offense extends far beyond what Ertz and fellow tight end Dallas Goedert bring to the table: “The Eagles’ best bet of beating the Patriots is using the ‘recipe’ they’ve used the past two weeks that features running the ball and controlling the clock. It’s not ideal that they’ve had to come this ‘establish the run’ offense but that’s just where they are right now, “said Brandon. “If the Pats are able to neuter the Eagles’ run game, well, I don’t see Philly being able to score much on Sunday. “Stopping the run has, of course, been an issue for New England’s otherwise stellar defense this season. Just go back to the last game the Patriots played: the Baltimore Ravens were able to control the tempo and pace of the contest for most of their 37-20 victory, by taking advantage of the Patriots’ two-gap scheme and defensive aggressiveness. On Sunday, a repeat performance by the run defense could field disastrous results yet again.“Rookie running back Miles Sanders is the player to watch on offense,” said Brandon when talking about Philadelphia’s most productive offensive player. “The Eagles sorely lack explosive play-makers, especially with DeSean Jackson out. Sanders has been the Eagles’ best bet when it comes to creating a big play. The 2019 second-round pick has accounted for the Eagles’ longest play from scrimmage in five out of the team’s last seven games.”“Sanders has done damage both as a pass-catcher (13.9 yards per reception) and a home-run running threat (see: 65-yard rushing touchdown in Buffalo). The Patriots should know from Super Bowl LII that the Eagles’ offensive line is a very good unit that can open up holes for Sanders to exploit,” he continued when speaking about the versatile back that has registered 641 yards from scrimmage over his team’s first nine games of the season.Sanders, who was picked in the second round of this year’s draft, may be the most productive offensive skill position player Philadelphia has on its roster at the moment but the team’s attack itself still runs through the quarterback position — one that is being led by former first-round draft selection Carson Wentz, as opposed to the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl 52, Nick Foles.Wentz has been quite solid this year after ending back-to-back seasons on injured reserve James Develin Jerseys 2019 , something Brandon also pointed out: “I’d start by arguing that Wentz — PFF’s sixth highest graded quarterback thus far —is having a better season than his traditional stats might indicate. If Wentz doesn’t have two game-winning touchdowns dropped earlier this season, the Eagles could be 7-2 right now and the conversation surrounding him could be much different.”“Patriots fans should know that Wentz is more mobile than Nick Foles,” Brandon continued. “This isn’t to suggest he’s often going to take off running but he will find ways to avoid sacks and extend plays. Wentz has really good arm strength and not totally unlike a certain Patriots quarterback he’s been lauded for his ability to diagnose defenses prior to the snap. In that vein, Wentz’s decision-making has been pretty good to this point.”“He’s only thrown four picks through nine starts,” he added. “Two interceptions came in the first half of a Week 2 game where DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery, and Dallas Goedert all inexplicably got hurt in pregame warmups. So, the Eagles basically had to scrap their gameplan on incredibly short notice and that understandably impacted Wentz. The other two picks were forced throws during garbage time situations.”“Wentz’s wont to hold on to the ball can come back to bite him when it comes to taking sacks. His accuracy could also afford to improve, especially after seeing him leave a number of plays on the field during the Eagles’ most recent game against the Bears,” Brandon said. “You may have heard that staying healthy has been a big issue for Wentz but — knock on wood — that hasn’t been the case this year.”“And now I probably just jinxed it. Apologies in advance, Carson.”The 26-year-old certainly has been a steady presence a Philadelphia offense that is now being coordinated by Mike Groh, who took over for now-Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich after the Super Bowl. Under Groh, the Eagles’ offense has had its ups and downs so far this season and currently ranks as the 13th most productive when measured by points scored per game (24.1).What’s the reason for this comparatively mediocre ranking? According to Brandon, the Eagles’ reliance on their quarterback plays a role in this: “Wentz seems pretty important to the Eagles’ success when you consider they haven’t stood a chance to win during his worst games of the season. If he’s not great, it’s not like the team is going to carry him to victory in spite of a bad performance.”


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