The New England Patriots have a 2020 NFL Draft sleeper at linebacker.
Tom Brady is obviously the Holy Grail of late-round NFL Draft sleepers, but the Patriots have had many, many others in the last couple of decades.
The Patriots traded out of the first round in the 2020 NFL Draft to select safety/linebacker hybrid Kyle Dugger with their top selection. They followed up that pick by adding a couple of edge rushers in Michigan’s Josh Uche and Alabama’s Anfernee Jennings to bring some pressure off the edge.
In theme with getting younger defensively, specifically at the linebacker position, the Patriots added yet another linebacker in the sixth round out of Wyoming that pretty much nobody had heard of ahead of the 2020 NFL Draft process.
The Patriots’ top 2020 NFL Draft sleeper
Patriots sixth-round pick Cassh Maluia is the protoypical late-round sleeper and a guy who has a lot more going for him than meets the eye.
In addition to these impressive statistics, Maluia ran a 4.55 in the 40-yard dash at Wyoming’s pro day this offseason to go along with a solid 33-inch vertical jump, 18 bench press reps, and a solid three-cone time of 7.16.
Maluia was a playmaker for the Wyoming program, even if his statistics don’t necessarily reflect it. Over the past three seasons, he racked up 13 tackles for loss and three interceptions and was all over the field for the Wyoming defense and special teams.
He will have to break into the Patriots’ rotation initially as a special teams playmaker, but there is no doubt he has the playmaking instincts and athletic profile to eventually play some inside linebacker at the NFL level with his versatility as a blitzer and coverage linebacker.
This guy plays extremely fast, plays hard, and seems to have a very natural feel for the game in general.
Although his teammate Logan Wilson generated the most pre-draft hype (and rightfully so), Maluia is in a good situation in New England and should have a really good chance to play meaningful snaps within the first two years of his NFL career.