3 Sleeper Prospects For The New England Patriots In The 2019 NFL Draft

The New England Patriots received the fewest amount of snaps from their rookie class last season, and it still didn’t hamper their Super Bowl championship run. Tom Brady has defied age, and the team has received immense value from unheralded players drafted in late rounds, or even those who never heard their names called from the podium.

New England’s ability to find the diamonds in the rough has been one of the most important factors in its dynastic run that has now spanned over a decade. As the Patriots move into the 2019 NFL Draft, the team’s scouting department will again attempt to work its mid and late-round magic.

What players could fit the bill for the Super Bowl champs this time around? Let’s take a look at three sleeper candidates the Patriots could look at this year.

Mecole Hardman, WR, Georgia 

(5-10, 187, 4.33)

A raw, but an explosive athlete, Hardman has the burst to get open underneath and a second gear to threaten defenses over the top. Hardman is a relative newcomer to the position, and it shows up at times in routes and his struggles competing for catches in traffic.

An All-American defensive back out of high school, Hardman starred on special teams for the Bulldogs early in his career before seeing time at receiver in 2017, when he played in 15 games, starting in one.  In 2018, he totaled 34 catches for 532 yards (15.6 yards per catch) and seven touchdowns in 14 games with five starts.

Currently slotted as a late third, but more likely a fourth-round selection, Hardman has the traits that you look for in a mid-round pick. He is often too reliant upon those athletic gifts, though, and struggles with the nuances of the position, such as suddenness out of breaks, contested catches, and commitment to route running.

That being said, with only two seasons as a receiver under his belt, he is likely to develop quickly as he continues to work on his craft. Hardman could be an excellent replacement for newly-signed Panthers receiver, and former Patriot, Chris Hogan, in the slot.

Ka’Dar Hollman, CB, Toledo (6-0, 190, 4.37)

Hollman has all the physical traits I like to see in a late-round sleeper prospect. Physically, he is a high-upside developmental corner with the speed to match up in man defense and the size to play in press coverage. He is also as mentally tough as they come. During his time in college, he worked his way from being a non-preferred walk-on to the scout team to a three-year starter and leader of the Rockets’ defense.

During the 2018 season, Hollman recorded 32 tackles, one interception, and 12 passes defended. For his career, Hollman totaled 112 tackles, two interceptions and 27 passes defended. During 37 career games, he limited opposing passers to just a 41.7 completion percentage and a combined passer rating of 69.9, according to Pro Football Focus’ tracking data.

Though he did not attend the NFL Scouting Combine, Holman’s 4.39 40-yard dash and 39-inch vertical leap he tested at during his pro day would have ranked among the top in his position group.

Hollman has recently or is scheduled to work out for teams such as the Browns, Eagles, Packers, and Lions. Another team that could use help in the defensive backfield, the Patriots could do well to take Hollman, who is slotted currently as a fifth-round selection, and see what he can do under a defensive coach such as Bill Belichick.

Trevon Wesco, TE, West Virginia (6-3, 267, 4.89)

New England could certainly select a tight end before the fifth or sixth round of the draft, where Wesco could hear his name called, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they took more than one, either. The Patriots could easily select a player such as Alabama’s Irv Smith Jr., and also a developmental prospect like Wesco, who is more of a physical presence.

It is entirely possible that Wesco has not yet played his best football. Wesco has the strength and toughness of an NFL tight end but is still raw in the nuanced aspects of the passing game, which could take some time to shore up. He has a willingness to get dirty as a run-blocker and the footwork to become much more consistent in sustaining blocks.

He may start his career on the practice squad while he refines the aspects of his game that need to be improved, such as getting open versus man coverage and being stronger in his lower body while blocking, but could prove to be a nice addition once coached up.

Phillip Lindsay, Broncos

JUST IN: Broncos RB Phillip Lindsay and other second-year players feel pressure to perform

Source : https://clutchpoints.com/3-sleeper-prospects-for-the-new-england-patriots-in-the-2019-nfl-draft/

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