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New England Patriots

Oct 19, 2019; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions linebacker Micah Parsons (11) gestures to fans prior to the game against the Michigan Wolverines at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The 2021 NFL Draft is all about offense. At the top, anyway. There could be as many as five quarterbacks who are drafted before the Patriots at No. 15. There are also generational prospects at tight end and tackle, plus a handful of wide receivers with Pro-Bowl potential expected to go in the top half of the first round.

Perfect time for Bill Belichick to go defense.

The New England Patriots head coach is known for zigging when people expect him (or just want him) to zag. So in a year when a top quarterback could be in his range after the Patriots went 7-9 in 2020, it’s wise to mentally prepare for Belichick to pounce on the best defensive prospect available. There’s a chance that a special player slips a little too far due to an expected run on offensive prospects. And Belichick may not be done building the next generation of Patriots defenders, as some of their most important core pieces continue to age.

All the players you’ll meet below are ranked 29th or higher in Daniel Jeremiah’s newest Top-50 prospect rankings at,¬†and nine of them went in the first round of our own first 2021 NFL mock draft of the season. These are the names you should be ready to hear called on the first night of the draft.

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Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @mattydsays. You can also email him at