By Alex Barth, 985TheSportsHub.com
Now that the league has (finally) released the compensatory picks for this year’s NFL Draft, it’s time for a full Patriots seven-round mock. Until he inks a deal elsewhere, we’re still working under the assumption that Tom Brady will be back in New England next season.
Even with Brady coming back, the Patriots still have a number of needs to fill, both top-line and depth. With their 12 draft picks, including four in the top-100, Bill Belichick has a lot of room to move around. How will he navigate things in April? Let’s take our first stab at the impossible task of predicting the Patriots’ 2020 draft class.
For a full first round mock draft, click here.
1st round, 23rd overall: S Xavier McKinney, Alabama
Yes, McKinney isn’t a wide receiver, but in such a deep class, first round-caliber wide receivers will be available on Day 2. Expect Bill Belichick to be aware of this reality and get himself a future secondary leader on defense. At some point in the near future the Patriots will need to replace both Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung, and McKinney could slide into either role. This word gets thrown around a lot, but he has the versatility that Belichick and the Patriots covet.
The Patriots send picks 87, 98, 244 and future Day 2 pick to Atlanta to get the 55th overall pick. Bill Belichick won’t let 64 picks pass without making a selection. The Patriots use their bounty of comp picks to move up on Day 2.
2nd round, 55th overall: TE Cole Kmet, Notre Dame
In a year where the tight end class is weaker than usual, Kmet stands out as the gem of the group. The Notre Dame product has the size (6-foot-6, 262 pounds), explosiveness, and athleticism to give the Patriots what they need at tight end. He’s still raw, especially as a run blocker, which is why he’ll still be available in the second round. With the right coaching, he will be a star in the league.
3rd round, 100th overall: WR Michael Pittman Jr., USC
Pittman at 100 is a bit of a stretch, but given the depth of wide receivers in this class there will be talented players at the position that fall. Last year, the USC wideout may have been a first round pick, this year he’s projected to go late second to anywhere in the third round.
In terms of the Patriots, Pittman checks all the boxes of their prototypical draft pick at the position. The 6-foot-4, 223 pound receiver is a strong, physical route runner who will compete for the ball at the point of attack with any corner. His speed and ability to separate aren’t and probably won’t ever be elite at the NFL level (sound familiar?), but his size, range, and hands could keep him in the league for a decade or more.
Adding to the draw for Pittman is an extensive special teams history and family background. Belichick has been known to go after players from football families. Michael Pittman Sr. played 11 NFL seasons as a running back from 1998-2008 for the Arizona Cardinals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Denver Broncos.
4th round, 125th overall: G Shane Lemieux, Oregon
Lemieux’s toughness is only matched by his football IQ. A four-year starter who appeared in 52 consecutive games, his reliability is something teams will value. Like most Day 2 picks, he’s still a year or two away from becoming an NFL starter, but if the Patriots find a bridge replacement for Joe Thuney in 2020, Lemieux would be a good investment as a long-term option.
6th round, 195th overall: LB Mohamed Barry, Nebraska
Nebraska product Mohamed Barry looks a lot like Elandon Roberts did coming out of college. A high-motor, ferocious downhill linebacker, he can overextend at times, which takes him out of position. Getting into the Patriots locker room and working with the likes of Jerod Mayo and Dont’a Hightower could work wonders for his game. Given the Patriots may need to replace Roberts, it’s a logical Day 3 pick.
Part of the benefit of having a stable of picks like the Patriots do is setting yourself up for future years. The Patriots move the 204th and 213th overall picks to pick up future assets.
6th round, 212th overall: K Tyler Bass, Georgia Southern
As much as people love Rodrigo Blankenship, it feels like Georgia Southern kicker Tyler Bass could be the real prize at the position. He hit 93 percent of his kicks from 30 to 50 out last year. In a league where going for it on fourth down in the red zone and just shy of midfield is becoming more popular (like how the Patriots operated last season), that’s a key number.
His form is simple enough to keep consistent, and the ball absolutely explodes off his foot. This results in a very high trajectory to his kicks, which makes them harder to block. When it comes to kickoffs, Bass allowed just nine returns last season, but with Jake Bailey on the roster, it’s unlikely he’d assume that responsibility with the Patriots.
7th round, 230th overall: T Alex Taylor, South Carolina State
Taylor is a former basketball player that made the full transition to football in 2018. His size (6-foot-8, 308 pounds) gave him a high floor, but he comes into the NFL still needing help when it comes to technique. Because of his background and build, he’s more of a mover than most NFL tackles, which presents unique opportunities.
Nate Solder had a similar build, but moved from tight end to tackle instead of coming from a completely different sport. Still, Taylor could be an effective third tackle and allow the Patriots to get creative in the run game, while at the same time working to develop into Marcus Cannon’s replacement.
7th round, 235th overall: CB Stanford Samuels III, Florida State
Stanford Samuels probably should have stayed another year at Florida State, but nobody has done a better job at developing project cornerbacks in the last 10 years than the New England Patriots. He’s 6-foot-2 with long arms and a natural nose for the ball. His technique is miles away, likely a result of constantly-changing coaches with the Seminoles, but there is something there. A redshirt season in New England would do him wonders.
7th round, 241st overall: QB Brian Lewerke, Michigan State
Even if Brady stays, the Patriots will likely take a quarterback as they do more often than not. Brian Lewerke is the typical “has all the physical tools” quarterback the league falls in love with who becomes a long-term backup. He’d compete with Cody Kessler for the third QB spot.
Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Hate mail? Let him hear it on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at Alexander.Barth@bbgi.com.