Asiasi release puts spotlight on Patriots' abundance of recent draft misses


The New England Patriots selected two tight ends in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft -- Dalton Keene and Devin Asiasi -- and neither of them will be on the roster for Week 1 of the 2022 regular season.

Keene was released last week. Asiasi reportedly was cut Tuesday, a few hours before the league's 4 p.m. ET deadline for all 32 teams to trim their rosters from 80 to 53 players.

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The Patriots drafted Asiasi 91st overall and Keene 101st overall. They traded up to get Keene.

These tight ends are two of many draft misses the Patriots have had in recent years. The first three rounds have been particularly troublesome for New England. ESPN's Bill Barnwell highlighted the misses in this tweet posted Tuesday:

Kyle Dugger (second round, 2020) and Damien Harris (third round, 2019) have been very good picks. Barnwell probably doesn't give enough credit to Sony Michel, who was instrumental in the Patriots' run-heavy offense that won Super Bowl LIII during his 2018 rookie campaign. He wasn't amazing in his next two years with the Patriots, but whenever you draft a player who plays a meaningful role on a title team, that's a good pick. 

Aside from Dugger, Harris and Michel, there isn't a lot to like from the 2018, 2019 and 2020 draft classes. In fairness, a couple of those other players -- Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings, for example -- are still on the team and could see a career-high in snaps during the upcoming season. Isaiah Wynn has played fairly well when healthy, but the offensive tackle has also missed 34 of the Patriots' 65 regular season games since he was drafted.

N'Keal Harry is obviously the most glaring mistake from these picks. The former Arizona State wideout was traded to the Chicago Bears over the summer for a 2024 seventh-round pick after three disappointing seasons in New England.

If you look outside the first three rounds of the 2018, 2019 and 2020 classes, the picture for the Patriots isn't any better.

What happens when you swing and miss so many times in the draft?

You have to spend huge in free agency, which is what the Patriots did in 2021 when they added tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith, wide receivers Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor, linebacker Matthew Judon and others.

The 2021 draft, at least so far, has proven very fruitful for the Patriots. Three of their first four picks were quarterback Mac Jones (first round), defensive lineman Christian Barmore (second round) and running back Rhamondre Stevenson (fourth round). All three are starting-caliber players (or better), which is impressive.

The Patriots need to be more consistent in the draft if they're going to build another Super Bowl-caliber roster. It's very hard to spend your way to a Lombardi Trophy. Team building through the draft is critical.

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