We’ve heard about the New England Patriots potentially packaging their No. 15 overall selection in a trade to get a veteran quarterback like the Houston Texans’ Deshaun Watson or the Philadelphia Eagles’ Carson Wentz.
We’ve also seen reports that New England might have some interest in using the pick to select a rookie quarterback like Ohio State’s Justin Fields or Alabama’s Mac Jones. Almost all of those possibilities would be understandable strategies for the Patriots to explore, but NFL.com’s Chad Reuter has a different prediction.
In his mock draft, Reuter predicts the Patriots will trade back rather than take what they regard as a second-round talent in the first round.
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Patriots Go Defensive in Round 1
In Reuter’s mock trade, he has the Jacksonville Jaguars sending their 25th overall pick to the Patriots, along with a fourth and fifth-round selection in exchange for New England’s 15th selection. The Patriots’ rationale in this scenario would be as followed: With Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence (Jaguars at No. 1), Alabama’s Jones (Washington Football Team at No. 14) and DeVonta Smith (New York Giants at No. 11), BYU’s Zach Wilson (Carolina Panthers via trade with New York Jets at No. 2), Fields (Atlanta Falcons at No. 4), North Dakota State’s Trey Lance (Detroit Lions at No. 7), and Florida’s Kyle Pitts (Cincinnati Bengals at No. 5) already off the board, there are no offensive weapons remaining that New England feels is worthy of the 15th pick. Rather than reaching on someone they like at 15, but who might be available later, they are going to add two potentially valuable Day 3 picks, while still having an opportunity to grab an offensive weapon in the second round.
The results of this hypothetical take from Reuter sees the Jags take Virginia Tech offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw at No. 15. The Patriots surprisingly go defense and draft highly touted South Carolina cornerback Jaycee Horn. Here is Reuter’s explanation:
If the Patriots can’t get the quarterback they want in the first round, they could trade back, add some assets and then probably address their defense. With Jason McCourty a free agent this year, and Stephon Gilmore potentially on the market in 2022, picking up another former Gamecock in Horn makes sense.
“Makes sense,” is a debatable concept in this instance as it will be a hard sell to the media and fans for Bill Belichick to use a first-round pick on a defensive player after watching his team rank 27th in total offense and points per game in 2020.
Patriots Get a Weapon in the Second Round
It might make the critics feel a little better to know that Reuter has the Patriots taking speedy and tough, 5’9″ Purdue Boilermakers wide receiver Rondale Moore in the second round. Moore possesses 4.3 speed, and he would instantly provide the Patriots’ offense with the type of explosive weapon they need to become a more dangerous offense.
In the third round, Reuter has the team going defense again with LSU’s mammoth defensive tackle Tyler Shelvin. He is listed at 6’3″ 350 pounds and will immediately get Patriots fans thinking about the rebirth of a Vince-Wilfork-like run-stuffer in the middle. While that’s an attractive concept, you might be wondering what in the world are the Patriots going to do at quarterback?
Quite honestly, this approach suggests New England plans to run it back with Cam Newton, only this time, he would be armed with one or two free-agent wide receivers, and perhaps a tight end.
Jarrett Stidham or another available quarterback option like Marcus Mariota, or Mitchell Trubisky are other options, though based on familiarity, you’d think Newton might have an edge over all of them if the team doesn’t sell out for the likes of Watson.
If this is the route Belichick takes, prepare for an entire spring and summer of second-guessing leading up to the 2021 campaign.
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