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Perry's Draft Grade: CB Marcellas Dial an ‘upside play' for Patriots

The Patriots' first pick on defense in the 2024 draft was a cornerback from the SEC.

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The New England Patriots have made a point to upgrade their offense in a major way during the 2024 NFL Draft. In fact, their first five picks were all offensive players, headlined by North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye at No. 3 overall in the first round.

The Patriots finally addressed a position of need on defense with the selection of South Carolina cornerback Marcellas Dial in the sixth round (180th overall).

Dial is a great athlete who played three seasons for the Gamecocks from 2021 through 2023. He tallied 83 solo tackles with one sack, 28 pass breakups and three interceptions in 36 career games.

Highlights of corner back Marcellas Dial of South Carolina, who the Patriots took in the 6th round with the 180th overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft

What exactly are the Patriots getting in Dial? Our Patriots insider Phil Perry provided a scouting report and a grade for the pick:

"This looks like an upside play at one of the game's most critical positions on the defensive side of the ball. Dial measures just under 6 feet and 190 pounds. He has a wingspan of about 78 inches, which puts him in the 80th percentile of corners at the NFL Scouting Combine over the course of the last two decades.

"That length and his speed -- he clocked a 4.46 (second) 40-yard dash in Indy this year -- helped him rack up 25 passes defended over the course of the last two years for the Gamecocks. He's not the most laterally quick cornerback in this year's draft class, but his ability to transition out of his backpedal and get downhill, where he's a willing tackler, is something that is sure to have interested New England.

"Investing in potential at one of the game's premium positions late in this year's draft means the Patriots earned themselves a B with this pick."

The Patriots selected Christian Gonzalez with the No. 17 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, and that selection looks like it will be a very good one. Gonzalez played really well before suffering a season-ending injury in Week 4. New England also lost cornerback Jack Jones and J.C. Jackson in the offseason. Veteran cornerback Jonathan Jones is 30 years old.

Adding another young, skilled cornerback to the depth chart needed to be a priority for the Patriots on Day 3 of the draft, and Dial has intriguing potential.

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