You Know Who Has Some Interesting Young Pieces? The New England Patriots!

No team has drafted or signed as many of Stoney's "my guys" as the New England Patriots. Let's see how this plays out.

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I won’t claim to be a flawless scout. I’m just a guy who loves football, specifically the NFL Draft, and has a desire to learn more week in and week out. You guys are along for the ride on my journey…well, at least if you subscribe to Stacking The Inbox, you are. I’ve never slowed down to actually make note of what I would do if I were the GM of a particular franchise. But, as I sit here filing through projected depth charts getting ready for the 2024 season, I can’t help but notice there’s one team that has a lot of “my guys” on the roster. That team is the New England Patriots.

So, in effect, this franchise could be an effective measure of how good I am at what I do. I won’t go as far as to predict that the Pats will actually be good, but I’d say that if I were a Pats fan, I’d be feeling optimistic right now. Jerod Mayo is a promising coach whose fate may be determined by how patient Patriots brass is willing to be. They drafted Drake Maye, and while I wasn’t the biggest Maye fan, I’ll acknowledge the high ceiling he has. I like the pick more in conjunction with the signing of Jacoby Brissett, a long-underrated stabilizing force at the position.

While the head coach and quarterback positions may be the foundation for the future, it’s elsewhere across the roster that I began to notice the Patriots had signed or drafted a lot of guys that I was high on in their respective draft class. In 2023, they drafted or signed four players from my ‘hidden gems’ list – center Jake Andrews, Sidy Sow, Marte Mapu, and Malik Cunningham (now with the Baltimore Ravens).

Sow was thrust into action early, and while his rookie year was a bit rocky at times, he’s poised to take a leap in 2024. I saw a powerful road grading guard on his tape, and from a philosophical standpoint, he seems to fit what the Pats have in their tackles. While undersized, Andrews was a feisty scrapper at Troy. I’ve seen a few depth charts projecting him to be the starter at center this season.

Cole Strange is another guy I became a fan of after the 2022 Senior Bowl. The Pats pulled off a stunner by drafting him in the first round that year, but I had discussed him as a potential outside-the-box option for the Titans in the first round. I thought his rookie year was as good as you’d get for a rookie offensive lineman, and his 2023 was a bit shakier. But, his athleticism and the pop with which he plays gives him a high ceiling. All in all, if these guys continue to develop, the Pats could have one of the more promising young offensive lines in the league by season’s end.

I was also a fan of Layden Robinson’s drafting because he is that mauler in the run game that the Pats seem to be looking for. And, I was a fan of Charles Turner III, who I referred to as “if ‘low man wins’ was a person.” If they do opt to throw the ball, they drafted two pass catchers this year that I liked in Javon Baker and Jaheim Bell, both of whom have an opportunity to provide a spark in what has been an anemic passing attack the past couple of seasons.

On defense, the conversation begins and ends with Christian Gonzalez. He had some of the best cornerback tape I’ve ever watched when he was at Oregon. Before his injury, this guy was on pace to become an instant impact cornerback and held some incredible wide receivers in check. Mapu is the modern hybrid linebacker/safety type that is an absolute assassin. He’s still transitioning after a major uptick in competition from Sacramento State to the NFL. I evaluated Keion White as a powerful high-floor pass rusher. Even in free agency, the addition of Sione Takitaki was one that I loved.

Point is, we’ve discussed nine players that I find to be aligned with their front office on. That feels like a high number to me, and if it actually translates to wins, that’s going to feel wild to me. In essence, yes, if the Patriots turn this thing around and field a competitive team this year or the next, I will absolutely take credit for it and add it to my résumé.

Stoney Keeley is the Editor in Chief of The SoBros Network, and a Dogs Playing Poker on velvet connoisseur. He is a strong supporter of Team GSD, #BeBetter, and ‘Minds right, asses tight.’ “Big Natural” covers the Tennessee Titans, Nashville, Yankee Candle, and a whole wealth of nonsense. Follow on Twitter @StoneyKeeley.

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