New England Patriots: 2021 NFL Draft late-round sleepers to target

Jamie Newman stands out as a great late-round target for the New England Patriots (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images)
Jamie Newman stands out as a great late-round target for the New England Patriots (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images) /
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new england patriots, 2021 nfl draft
Deatrich Wise #91 of the New England Patriots celebrates with teammates after recovering a fumble in the end zone (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

Following an offseason unseen in Foxborough under the direction of Bill Belichick, the New England Patriots have managed to mount their return to the top of the AFC through heavy free-agent spending in a rare financial situation for many franchises. With the salary cap falling to $182.5 million, the vast majority of teams were left cutting valuable assets to make their number.

Ranking near the top of the league in cap space, Belichick spent a grand total of $228.4 million on free agents outside of the New England Patriots organization, patching a number of holes predicted to be areas of interest for the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft. Mid-rebuild, it cannot be denied how important this draft class will be.

With six selections on the second day of the draft, keeping to their reputation of finding gems in the middle rounds of the draft will be crucial to their success in the upcoming season. As well as the highest selection they’ve possessed since 2008 (10th overall, Jerod Mayo), Belichick is in prime position to take advantage of a deep 2021 NFL Draft class.


D'Ante Smith OT

East Carolina Pirates Football
East Carolina Pirates Football /

Scouting Report

Playing left tackle for the Pirates this past season, D’Ante Smith is a 6-foot-5, 294-pound lineman with the versatility to align across the offensive front. Such valuable versatility rarely finds itself entrenched within the middle rounds of the draft.

At sub-300 pounds, Smith is a fleet-footed blocker who can recover quickly when an opposing defender gets to his outside hip. Translating to the ground attack, Smith shows more than enough mobility to pull to the backside of the formation in order to become the lead blocker.

Despite carrying plenty of pace, Smith doesn’t plant defenders with overwhelming strength at the point of attack. This restraint shows in pass protection as well, opting for well-placed punches off of the snap in order to corral defenders with a hug technique.

Having lost third-round selection and similarly versatile guard Joe Thuney to free agency, Smith would add needed depth to the unit as well as challenge current projected starter Mike Onwenu.

Potential Draft Position: Round 4, Pick 140