The Patriots may have found Danny Amendola 2.0 in Braxton Berrios.
The Patriots were busy on day three of the NFL Draft. They made two additional trades and added six players to their roster.
Here is my breakdown of the six players that were drafted in day three.
5th Round: Ja’Whaun Bentley, ILB, Purdue, 6-2 260
What I Like: Bentley is an old school plugger in run support. He reads his keys, attacks his gap of responsibility and makes a tackle. Bentley is a physical tackler who plays with good technique. Purdue blitzed him a lot in their scheme so he shows good timing when coming on the blitz. A three time captain, Bentley has the intelligence and the leadership qualities Bill Belichick likes at the position.
What I Don’t Like: Bentley doesn’t cover a lot of ground in zone coverage. He struggles to match up with running backs in man coverage. He is a good player North and South but he looks heavy footed at times moving laterally.
Final Thoughts: Bentley will make this team and could potentially start at the MIKE linebacker spot. He will bring an element of leadership and toughness to the Patriots defense. Bentley will also play special teams.
6th Round: Christian Sam, OLB, Arizona State, 6-1 244
What I Like: Sam is a tough, instinctive linebacker who can do a lot of different things within the scheme. He can play the MIKE or the SAM linebacker spot. Sam moves well laterally and can make chase plays from behind. He has good eyes and reads his keys well. He doesn’t bite on misdirection plays. He had 127 total tackles last season for Arizona State.
What I Don’t Like: Sam is a better coverage linebacker than Bentley but he also has a tendency to shorten his drop in zone coverage and allow routes to sneak in behind him. Sam is better at matching up with a back out of the backfield than carrying a tight end vertically in man coverage. Just like Bentley, Sam will have to play special teams if he wants to stick.
6th Round: Braxton Berrios, WR, Miami (Fla), 5-9 184
What I Like: Berrios is your prototypical Patriots slot receiver in the mold of Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola. He is smaller than those guys but just like those guys, he runs good routes and knows how to get open underneath. Berrios is a high I.Q player who will have no problem learning the Patriots and the different route adjustments that a receiver in the offense has to make on the fly. Berrios can stretch the field vertically and separate. He runs faster than he tested.
Why I Don’t Like: Berrios only has 28 inch arms so his catch radius is limited. He needs to be more explosive when getting in and out of routes. He doesn’t create as much separation as he should.
Final Thoughts: Berrios will make this team because the Patriots value slot receivers who are good route runners. Perhaps the biggest reason he’ll make the roster is his ability to run kicks. He will get every opportunity to be the team’s primary punt returner.
7th Round: Danny Etling, QB, LSU, 6-2.5 222
What I Like: Etling has good size, plus arm strength and he takes care of the ball. He only threw two interceptions in 2017. Etling is a worthy developmental quarterback because he is intelligent and can manage the offense.
What I Don’t Like: What you see is what you get with Etling. He has enough physical tools to play in the NFL and manage the offense but I don’t think he is anything more than a back up.
Final Thoughts: If Etling has a good camp and pre-season, he could force the Patriots to carry three quarterbacks. Otherwise, he is probably going to end up on the practice squad.
7th Round: Keion Crossen, CB, Western Carolina, 5-10 190
What I Like: Crossen is fast! He a ran 4.32 in the 40 yard dash. He is undersized but he is smooth and fluid in coverage and has good ball skills. Despite his size, he played outside in college and showed that he can compete with bigger receivers. Crossen is more suited to play in the slot. Physically, there are a lot of similarities to current Patriot corner Jonathan Jones.
What I Don’t Like: Size will be an issue for Crossen and despite how smooth he is in his backpedal and movements, he does have a tendency to lock onto the quarterback and lose his positioning. Crossen must prove he can play special teams or he will struggle to make the team.
Final Thoughts: Crossen has the physical tools to make the team but he will have to prove he can play inside at nickel or dime and contribute on special teams.
7th Round: Ryan Izzo, TE, Florida State, 6-4 256
What I Like: Izzo is a throwback, in-line tight end. He is ideally suited to be a second or a third tight end. He is a sound blocker who wins one on one with technique. He takes being a good blocker seriously. As far as the passing game. Izzo will run a full route tree but he is at his best on out routes and spot routes. He can body up defenders and he catches the ball well on the move.
What I Don’t Like: Izzo is not starter material. He is a back up tight end at best. He is a good football player but he fast enough vertically to be a starting tight end in the NFL. He is best suited to play the U (second tight end) not the Y (starter). The U is usually more of a blocker on the back side of a formation.
Final Thoughts: Izzo’s toughness, blocking ability and willingness to play special teams makes him valuable. He could make the team with a good camp.
Patriots 2018 draft class:
1a. OL Isaiah Wynn
1b. RB Sony Michel
2. CB Duke Dawson
5. LB Ja’Whaun Bentley
6a. LB Christian Sam
6b. WR Braxton Berrios
7a. QB Danny Etling
7b. CB Keion Crossen
7c. TE Ryan Izzo