In what was an exhaustive reign of shutdown talent on the outside, the New England Patriots have quickly found themselves on the other side of the hedge as the draft swiftly approaches. From the days of Stephon Gilmore, Malcolm Butler, Jason McCourty, J.C. Jackson, to further back in Asante Samuel and Ty Law, shutdown corners have been synonymous with an overpowering New England defense.
However, they’re now in a division primed with youth-infused talent ready to set the skies ablaze with their aerial attack. After witnessing the losses of Gilmore and Jackson in just the last six months, Bill Belichick is in desperate need of pop on the outside. Thankfully for the long-tenured bench boss, he won’t have to look far for immediate impact talent.
KYLER GORDON, WASHINGTON
With ideal patience and ball skills to work in zone, and his explosive nature to make plays in man coverage, Gordon has seen his stock skyrocket since the conclusion of his final season at Washington. At 5-foot-11, he fits Belichick’s thresholds mirroring the likes of McCourty as a sub 6-foot, physical presence with the ability to play inside and out. A fluid mover with quick twitch that allows him to consistently remain hip-to-hip with wideouts, Gordon has Belichick written all over him.
KAIIR ELAM, FLORIDA
Elam hasn’t received the attention as some of his fellow classmates like Sauce Gardner or Derek Stingley Jr, but we’ve seen the job Belichick has done with ‘under the radar’ selections in the past and his potential role within the Patriots’ veteran defense should allow him to blossom quickly. Like Gordon, Elam is a versatile defender whose in-your-face style of play reminds me of Jackson, where Elam opts to get his hands on pass-catchers early in the contact window to disrupt timing and fluster opponents during their stem.
TARIQ WOOLEN, UTSA
One of the most athletically gifted talents at any position in the class, Woolen’s 6-foot-4 frame with 4.3-second 40 speed doesn’t grow on trees. When you add in his intriguing ability as a cover corner, he presents an All-Pro ceiling under the correct tutelage. By no means is he perfect – he’s still rough around the edges as a wide receiver convert – but everything is there for Woolen to evolve into a high level starter in the NFL.
MARIO GOODRICH, CLEMSON
The Robin to Andrew Booth’s Batman this fall, Goodrich stood out on film against secondary wide receivers, but solidified his status as a late day 2 corner at the Senior Bowl working against some of the top perimeter talent CFB had to offer. Another corner with ideal technique to work in both man and zone, I don’t envision the former Tiger progressing into a top corner, but, like he was at Clemson, he will represent an awfully good rotational player with the ability to round out a corner room nicely.
MARTIN EMERSON, MISSISSIPPI STATE
I’m not sure Emerson lasts until Day 3 due to his blend of length and speed, but either way, I expect New England to have a ton of interest. Similar to Jackson, whose ballhawking ability thrives in zone due to his elite vision and football IQ, Emerson could potentially enjoy similar success while he fully adjusts to the speed of the NFL game.
MARCUS JONES, HOUSTON
Belichick loves versatility and who better to pluck off the board in Day 3 than an impact corner with immediate special teams value, especially now that Gunner Olszewski is elsewhere. An explosive lower half leads the way for Jones, who should slide nicely into the slot where his lightning-quick feet and fluid hips will allow him to remain in phase no matter the skill set aligned on the opposite side of the line of scrimmage. His performance ceiling remains one of the more intriguing on Day 3.
3 Teams That Should Trade For Isaiah Wynn
- Aug 22, 2022
Is Patriots’ Secondary Their Achilles’ Heel?
- Aug 17, 2022