New England Patriots

ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 26: A video board displays the text "THE PICK IS IN" for the New England Patriots during the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium on April 26, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
  • Here we are again. Just a week after Mock Draft 2.0, it’s already time to update the team’s draft outlook. Isn’t that why Mock Drafts are always named ‘x.0’ anyway, so there’s room to update? That makes this 2.5, two and a half, 2.1, 2.0 beta, whatever you want to call it.

    Anyways, last week was a busy week for the Patriots, highlighted by the acquisition of wide receiver DeVante Parker. They also signed hybrid defensive back Jabrill Peppers to a one-year deal late last week.

    One thing that stands out  about this draft outlined below – the Patriots make 10 total selections. That may feel like a lot, but it’s not out of the ordinary given the way Bill Belichick has run things recently. Over their last 10 drafts, the Patriots have averaged making 8.6 selections per draft. They’ve had three drafts where they’ve made double-digit selections in that span, including two in the last three years. On the other hand, they’ve drafted less than eight players just twice and less than seven only once (four picks in 2017). If you remove that outlier – when they traded a first for Brandin Cooks and had to forfeit a fourth-round pick because of Deflategate – the average picks per year is 9.1.

    How will they fill up their board this year? Let’s get into it…

  • Round 1, Pick 21: Trade

    INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - DECEMBER 18: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots looks on during pregame warm-ups prior to the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 18, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

    INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – DECEMBER 18: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots looks on during pregame warm-ups prior to the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 18, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

    Patriots get:

    –29th overall pick (1st round)
    –94th overall pick (3rd round)
    –135th overall pick (4th round)
    –2023 4th round pick

    Chiefs get:

    –21st overall pick (1st round)

    The Chiefs, always aggressive on the draft board, decide to pay the steep cost of moving up and the Patriots take advantage. They add an extra top-100 and top-150 pick.

    Over the last few years, the cost of moving up about 10 spots in the first round has generally been a first, two early Day 3 picks. This may not seem like much, but it’s actually an overpay by recent standards. There were no trades in this range last year, but in 2020 the San Francisco 49ers gave up the 31st pick, plus fourth and fifth round picks to move up to 25. A slightly higher pick and jump in picks has the Chiefs paying a bit more.

    This is also a win for the Patriots based on the Belichick trade chart. The 21st overall pick is worth 261 points, and they’re getting 271 points in return (it’s not uncommon for a team moving up to overpay).

    NOTE: There’s been a lot of questions on social media about the players the Patriots are passing on here – specifically Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams. As I wrote elsewhere on Monday, it’s looking less and less likely like he’ll be on the board at 21. For this mock, the assumption is he’s already been selected.

  • Round 1, Pick 29: DB Daxton Hill, Michigan

    Nov 20, 2021; College Park, Maryland, USA; Michigan Wolverines defensive back Daxton Hill (30) rushes during the first halfagainst the Maryland Terrapins at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium. Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

    Nov 20, 2021; College Park, Maryland, USA; Michigan Wolverines defensive back Daxton Hill (30) rushes during the first halfagainst the Maryland Terrapins at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium. Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

    In Mock Draft 2.0, we had the Patriots taking Florida cornerback Kaiir Elam. Elam is the kind of big, strong boundary corner the Patriots have traditionally targeted. However, it’s looking more and more like the plan for 2022 is to morph the defense into a more zone, ‘positionless’ look in the secondary. If that’s the case, there isn’t a better fit in this draft than Hill.

    Hill played deep safety, box safety, slot corner, and even occasionally boundary corner at Michigan. He’s able to play so many roles thanks to a combination of terrific football instincts and standout athleticism. He ran a 4.38 40-yard dash and led all safeties at the Combine in the agility drills with a 4.06 second 20-yard shuttle and 6.57 second three-cone.

    There would be no shortage of ways the Patriots could deploy Hill in New England. Given the current state of the secondary, that makes him an ideal fit.

  • Round 2, Pick 54: DL Perrion Winfrey, Oklahoma

    Oct 9, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA;  Oklahoma Sooners defensive lineman Perrion Winfrey (8) pressures Texas Longhorns quarterback Casey Thompson (11) during the game at the Cotton Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

    Oct 9, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA; Oklahoma Sooners defensive lineman Perrion Winfrey (8) pressures Texas Longhorns quarterback Casey Thompson (11) during the game at the Cotton Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

    For the second year in a row, the Patriots take a versatile and high-upside defensive lineman in the second round. There’s plenty on Winfrey’s resume that would make him a logical draft target for the Patriots, including playing at Oklahoma and winning Senior Bowl MVP.

    Winfrey would join a line of Patriots’ defensive linemen who can play both on the edge and inside. At 6-foot-4, 290 pounds, he’s big and strong enough to set the edge against the run. On passing downs, he’s athletic enough to kick inside and collapse the pocket as a pass rusher. Pairing him with Christian Barmore up front could create some unique mismatches for offenses in obvious passing situations.

    Wherever he lines up, Winfrey knows how to disrupt an offense. 11 of his 23 tackles last season went for a loss, including 5.5 sacks. He also ran the third-fastest 40-yard dash among defensive linemen at the Combine, posting a 4.89 second time.

  • Round 3, pick 85: Dylan Parham, Memphis

    Mar 4, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Memphis offensive lineman Dylan Parham (OL36) goes through drills during the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Mar 4, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Memphis offensive lineman Dylan Parham (OL36) goes through drills during the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    This pick remains unchanged from Mock Draft 2.0. A four-year starter for Memphis, Parham should be the favorite to win the starting left guard job as soon as he sets foot in Foxborough.

    The reason Parham is still on the board at this point with a starting-caliber floor is some teams may be concerned about his size (6-foot-3, 311 pounds). Yet he’s such a technically-sound prospect, time with the Patriots’ coaching staff and on an NFL workout plan should make that a non-issue.

  • Round 3, Pick 94: DE Joshua Paschal

    LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY - SEPTEMBER 04: Joshua Paschal #4 of the Kentucky Wildcats on defense against the ULM War Hawks at Kroger Field on September 04, 2021 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

    LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY – SEPTEMBER 04: Joshua Paschal #4 of the Kentucky Wildcats on defense against the ULM War Hawks at Kroger Field on September 04, 2021 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

    Paschal is listed as a defensive end, but he can realistically line up anywhere from an early-down outside linebacker to standup interior pass rusher. He’s also a highly intelligent, high motor player who should be able to play on four downs right away.

    Paschal was a three year starter after missing the 2018 season while undergoing cancer treatment. A two-time team captain at Kentucky, draft insiders have lauded him as a leader and locker room presence.

    The Patriots likely wouldn’t have him fill one role, but give him a number of different assignments as his game rounds out. This selection is more about him being a tremendous fit, and among the best players on the board at this point.

  • Round 4, Pick 127: CB Jalyn Armour-Davis, Alabama

    Sep 4, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Jalyn Armour-Davis (5) breaks up a pass intended for Miami Hurricanes wide receiver Key'Shawn Smith (5) at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Credit: Gary Cosby-USA TODAY Sports

    Sep 4, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Jalyn Armour-Davis (5) breaks up a pass intended for Miami Hurricanes wide receiver Key’Shawn Smith (5) at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Credit: Gary Cosby-USA TODAY Sports

    After taking four potential immediate impact players with their four top-100 picks, the Patriots go for more of a project player to start Day 3. As mentioned above, the Patriots may go away from their traditional defensive profile this year, but having one bigger outside press man corner on the roster would be helpful for certain matchups. Plus, based on Armour-Davis’ development, he could give the team the option to return to a press-man scheme in the future.

    Armour-Davis didn’t begin playing an involved role on defense until 2021, but showed promise in his lone year as a starting outside corner for Alabama. He has the build (6-foot-1), mentality, and athleticism (4.39 40,  to play boundary corner in the NFL, but may be a year or two away from a full-time starting role on the outside after spending most of his collegiate career as a reserve. Still, he could likely come in and contribute on special teams right away (he was a three-year special teams starter at ‘Bama) and may have some safety flexibility as well.

  • Round 4, Pick 135: DT Otito Ogbonnia, UCLA

    Dec 5, 2020; Tempe, Arizona, USA; UCLA Bruins offensive defensive lineman Otito Ogbonnia (91) against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium. Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    Dec 5, 2020; Tempe, Arizona, USA; UCLA Bruins offensive defensive lineman Otito Ogbonnia (91) against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium. Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    The Patriots continue to work on upgrading their front seven. This time, they add a dedicated early-down run stopping nose tackle in Ogbonnia. At 6-foot-4, 324 pounds Ogbonnia can eat space and occupy blockers in the running game. He explodes out of his stance and regularly wins at the point of attack.

    2021 was Ogbonnia’s lone year as a starter at UCLA, so his game is still developing. He’ll likely be a heavily situational player early on, but his game is still developing. If he improves his footwork, he may also be able to play strongside defensive end on early downs in the Patriots’ system as well.

     

  • Round 5, Pick 158: WR Bo Melton, Rutgers

    Nov 27, 2021; Piscataway, New Jersey, USA; Rutgers Scarlet Knights wide receiver Bo Melton (18) gains yards after the catch against the Maryland Terrapins during the first half at SHI Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

    Nov 27, 2021; Piscataway, New Jersey, USA; Rutgers Scarlet Knights wide receiver Bo Melton (18) gains yards after the catch against the Maryland Terrapins during the first half at SHI Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

    After adding an outside ‘X’ receiver in Parker, it’s time for the Patriots to address the slot position. Jakobi Meyers is returning as a restricted free agent, but there isn’t much depth behind him currently on the roster and he’ll be an unrestricted free agent next offseason.

    Looking to plan ahead, the Patriots take Melton in the fifth round. Melton was a standout at both the Senior Bowl and Combine, where he ran a 4.34 40 and had a 6.98 3-cone – both ranking top five among receivers.

    At 5-foot-11, 198 pounds Melton is somewhere in between a traditional slot receiver and ‘bit slot.’ His speed and footwork off the line allow him to work vertically as well as in the shallow areas of the field, which is a style similar to some of the slot receivers Mac Jones had success with at Alabama. He also has experience returning kickoffs and covering kicks and punts as a gunner.

    Of course, the Rutgers connection stands out. The Patriots haven’t taken a player from the program since Greg Schiano left in 2011. However, Schiano returned in 2020, which could re-open the pipeline.

  • Round 5, Pick 170: Trade

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - OCTOBER 24: New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick looks on after the game against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on October 24, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – OCTOBER 24: New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick looks on after the game against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on October 24, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    Patriots get:

    –244th overall pick (7th round)
    –2023 5th round pick
    –2023 7th round pick

    Cardinals get:

    –170th overall pick (5th round)

    The Patriots have made just six fifth round selections in the last 10 years. Three of those six picks were special teams players, and another was linebacker Cameron McGrone last year, who was selected with the knowledge that he wouldn’t play in 2021. In that same time, they’ve traded away 18 fifth round picks (including comp picks and picks that weren’t originally theirs), often using those trades to move down and add current and future draft capital. That’s exactly what they do here.

    This is an even swap on the trade chart. Each team is moving eight points worth of picks.

  • Round 6, Pick 200: OT Vederian Lowe, Illinois

    Purdue linebacker Kieren Douglas (43) is blocked by Illinois offensive lineman Vederian Lowe (79) during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021 at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette. (Nikos Frazier / Journal & Courier via Imagn Content Services, LLC)

    Purdue linebacker Kieren Douglas (43) is blocked by Illinois offensive lineman Vederian Lowe (79) during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021 at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette. (Nikos Frazier / Journal & Courier via Imagn Content Services, LLC)

    Lowe wasn’t on the draft radar heading into the 2021 season. However, he showed tremendous growth under first-year coach Bret Bielema, a former Patriots staffer. The Patriots regularly took players from Arkansas when Bielema was the head coach there from 2013-2017, so it’s worth watching to see if that trend will pick up again with Illinois.

    As for Lowe himself, he has the build (6-foot-5, 314 pounds) and functional athleticism to play both tackle spots for the Patriots, and some draft experts project him as a potential four-position player with the right coaching. His technique came a long way in 2021 but he still has a way to go, but he would be a good project tackle for the Patriots with the position looming as a need in 2023.

  • Round 6, Pick 210: LB Nate Landman, Colorado

    TUCSON, ARIZONA - DECEMBER 05: Linebacker Nate Landman #53 of the Colorado Buffaloes during the first half of the PAC-12 football game against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium on December 05, 2020 in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)

    TUCSON, ARIZONA – DECEMBER 05: Linebacker Nate Landman #53 of the Colorado Buffaloes during the first half of the PAC-12 football game against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium on December 05, 2020 in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)

    Landman was also a late-round pick in Mock Draft 2.0. A multi-year starter and captain at Colorado, Landman is among the more experienced linebackers in this draft and would join what is a relatively young linebacker room in New England.

    A primary run stopper, Landman can play edge to edge and isn’t afraid to throw his body around. If the Patriots are going to switch to zone, could potentially end up a three down player, with his instincts and football IQ helping him get to the right place at the right time despite average athleticism. He should be able to contribute on special teams covering kicks right away.

  • Round 7, Pick 244: RB Trestan Ebner, Baylor

    WACO, TX -NOVEMBER 27: Trestan Ebner #1 of the Baylor Bears carries the ball past Colin Schooler #17 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders in the first half at McLane Stadium on November 27, 2021 in Waco, Texas. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

    WACO, TX -NOVEMBER 27: Trestan Ebner #1 of the Baylor Bears carries the ball past Colin Schooler #17 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders in the first half at McLane Stadium on November 27, 2021 in Waco, Texas. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

    In the last mock, Ebner was considered as a primary UDFA. Yet here, the Patriots pick him up towards the end of the seventh round.

    With James White coming off his hip injury and no other pass-catching back on the roster, the position is a sneaky need for the Patriots. Ebner comes from a pass-heavy offense at Baylor, where he caught 127 passes and had 11 receiving touchdowns in 58 career games.

    Ebner’s speed (4.43 40) and route running ability will make him a mismatch out of the backfield against most teams. He also is big enough (5-foot-11, 206 pounds) to compete as a blocker. Ebner may not be ready for the full receiving back role right away, but he could potentially take some snaps at that spot in 2022, with the upside to become the primary player at the position in a few years.

    On top of all of that, Ebner excels as a kick returner. He’s a two-time Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year, and has three career kickoff return touchdowns on his resume.