The New England Patriots served noticed in free agency.
They’re making every effort to win in 2021.
Those moves were mainly about the upcoming season, but on April 29, Bill Belichick and Co. will likely make trades and selections designed to set the franchise up for the future in the NFL Draft.
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Take a gander at this seven-round mock draft by yours truly that includes an aggressive but sensible trade-up to land the perfect candidate to succeed Cam Newton as the team’s starting quarterback in 2022.
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- Patriots send No. 15, Second-Rounder in 2022, and Third-Rounder in 2023 to Detroit Lions for No. 7 pick.
- Patriots select, QB, Trey Lance from North Dakota State
As much as I believe Newton will have a bounce-back season in 2021, we’d be crazy not to think the team needs to land a quarterback who will be the starter for the next five-10 years after Newton’s one-year deal has expired.
Lance is just 20 years old, and he checks all of the boxes from a physical standpoint. He’s 6’4″, 227 pounds, and as evidenced by his Pro Day, Lance can make all of the throws necessary in the NFL.
He has the mobility that will allow him to be a true dual-threat. He reminds me of a bigger Russell Wilson. That’s about as high of a ceiling of anyone in the draft besides Trevor Lawrence.
Lance didn’t have a ton of experience, and he played in a smaller conference, but having Newton as the starter would allow the rookie to sit and learn from a veteran who has some similarities to him.
Lance sat in 2020 because of the impacts of COVID-19 on the Missouri Valley Conference, but in 2019, he completed 66.9 percent of his throws, tossed 28 TDs, and no interceptions.
Second Round – Pick No. 46
- Patriots select WR, Dyami Brown, North Carolina
While it’s obvious the Patriots are building their passing game around the tight ends with Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry’s signings, New England could still use some speed from their wide receivers.
Kendrick Bourne isn’t a burner, and as effective as Nelson Agholor has been downfield, the team still doesn’t have an actual speed guy at receiver. Brown would fill that role nicely. He was highly productive throughout his college career. In 2020, he caught 55 passes for 1,099 yards and 8 TDs.
Third-Round – Pick 96
- Patriots select WR, Tylan Wallace, Oklahoma State
The Patriots could easily trade N’Keal Harry. Several teams have inquired about his availability. Julian Edelman has retired. Damiere Byrd is still a free agent. Beyond Jakobi Meyers, there aren’t any other receivers from 2020 that the Patriots should be hellbent on retaining.
Because of that situation, it makes sense for the team to double down on receivers.
Some say Wallace struggles to gain separation and with physicality. Breaking away from physical defenders is undoubtedly something he needs to work on at the next level. However, he has game-breaking speed, good size, massive heart, and he plays as hard as any receiver you’ll see in the draft.
If he can expand his route-running, and if he can add about five pounds of muscle, he could be one of the biggest steals in the draft.
Fourth-Round – Pick 120
- Patriots select CB, Ambry Thomas, Michigan
With the possibility the Patriots could be trading Stephon Gilmore, the Patriots would be wise to draft a corner relatively early in the draft. You could make the argument New England should be looking this way before the fourth round. If they don’t or are unable to trade up for Lance, there is a good chance the team takes the top available cornerback with the No. 15 pick.
In this mock draft, the Patriots take physical corner Ambry Thomas, who shined at Michigan before sitting out the 2020 season because of concerns with COVID-19. Thomas is a pure press coverage receiver who could be a great complement to JC Jackson.
The Rest of the Draft
- Patriots trade No. 122 to Chicago Bears for No. 164 and 204
- No. 139 – OT, Spencer Brown, Northern Iowa
- No. 164 – CB, Deommodore Lenoir, Oregon
- No. 177 – Edge, Jonathon Cooper, Ohio State
- No. 188 – S, Reed Blankenship, Middle Tennessee State
Blankenship has the look of a potentially elite special teams player.
- No. 197 – WR, Tamorrion Terry, Florida State
- No. 204 – HB/PR, Pooka Williams, Kansas
One of my favorite selections. Williams is too small to be a conventional running back in the NFL, but he has some Dante Hall-like qualities when it comes to shiftiness. He has a place as a gadget player and punt return specialist.
- No. 242 – Edge, William Bradley-King, Baylor
How’s that for a need-filling draft?