Bill Belichick Called UCLA's Chip Kelly Before Devin Asiasi 2020 NFL Draft PickMay 13, 2020
The New England Patriots traded their Nos. 100, 139 and 172 overall picks in exchange for the Las Vegas Raiders' No. 91 overall selection in the 2020 NFL draft.
Former UCLA tight end Devin Asiasi was the Patriots' target.
"Belichick was comfortable enough to trade up to No. 91 for Asiasi," The Athletic's Jeff Howe wrote on Monday. "Why? Because he called [UCLA head coach Chip] Kelly directly during the third round for last-minute assurance from a trusted friend."
Kelly lauded Asiasi to Howe:
"His athletic ability for his size, someone that big shouldn't be that smooth an athlete. His versatility is what a lot of teams in the NFL coveted, and obviously Bill saw that himself. The one thing I knew in coaching that league is there aren't a lot of guys out there, no matter what year it is, who are as big and athletic. The combination of Devin's size and athletic ability, I knew it was going to make him unique, not just in this class but any class."
Belichick and Kelly first met when Kelly was at the University of New Hampshire (1992, 1994-2006) and have developed a close friendship in the years since, according to ESPN's Nick Wagoner in November 2016. Belichick called it "disappointing" when the Philadelphia Eagles fired Kelly in December 2015, and he has been UCLA's head coach since November 2017.
Asiasi began his collegiate career at Michigan before transferring to UCLA in March 2017. The 6'3", 257-pound prospect played two seasons under Kelly. He recorded just 130 yards and one touchdown on six catches in 2018 before breaking out last season with 641 yards and four touchdowns on 44 receptions.
NFL.com's Lance Zierlein likened Asiasi's potential to former Pro Bowl tight end Alge Crumpler, who finished his playing career with the Patriots in 2010.
"Once he learns to attack throws and body defenders with his frame, he will offer value as a possession target on third downs," Zierlein wrote. "Asiasi's areas of improvement are attainable and he projects as a play-making Y with future TE1 potential."
Tight end has been a need in New England since All-Pro Rob Gronkowski announced his retirement in March 2019. Gronkowski came out of retirement but only to be traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in order to join forces with Tom Brady, who departed the Patriots to sign a two-year deal with the Bucs during free agency in March.
The Patriots also drafted former Virginia Tech tight end Dalton Keene in the third round (No. 101 overall) before signing former Ohio State tight end Rashod Berry as an undrafted free agent.