The NFL Draft is just over a week away on April 25th and the Patriots have had a busy offseason that included the departures of key pieces of their Super Bowl winning team such as Rob Gronkowski, Trey Flowers, Trent Brown, and Chris Hogan. The Patriots currently have 12 selections and would expect them to make several trades during the draft.
This seven-round mock draft was conducted on FanSpeak.com using their mock draft simulator. I used the ‘Big Board’ rankings done by Matt Miller of Bleacher Report, with ‘NFL Mock’ for team needs, on the difficult draft setting. Some players may be ranked higher in other rankings and projections and post combine.
Round 1 pick 32: Dexter Lawrence, Defensive Lineman, Clemson
Defensive tackle was the Patriots most inconsistent position last season, with both Malcolm Brown and Danny Shelton having their share of struggles and healthy scratches from the 46-man game day roster.
Dexter Lawrence was a big contributor to the vaunted Clemson defensive line despite missing time at the end of the season due to a PED suspension. Lawrence has great size at 6’4 340lbs and could be the force in the middle of the line the Patriots defense was desperately needing at times during the 2018 season. Lawrence could step in and be a starter and key contributor right away.
Round 2 pick 56: Deebo Samuel, Wide Receiver, South Carolina
As I write this the Patriots just signed Demaryius Thomas, who I HATE as a player but like the move due to the Patriots current receiving core. Even with the signing of Thomas I would like to see the Pats add a WR early and Samuel has the ability to play both the slot and outside receiver positions and play special teams. It’s still unsure the status of Josh Gordon and if he will be eligible to play next year, and after losing Chris Hogan to the Carolina Panthers depth and talent at the wide receiver position is a major area of need. New England held an official private workout with Samuel last week where Samuel later posted a video on Instagram outside Gillette Stadium saying “Hey Billy. I’ll see you in a month, my man,” which could mean there’s interest on both sides and the private workout and meeting went well.
Round 2 pick 64: Zach Allen, EDGE Rusher, Boston College
The Patriots added Michael Bennett in a trade with the Eagles, and also lost arguably their best defensive player in Trey Flowers to the Lions which makes defensive end still an area of need. Allen has good size that gives him versatility to play the interior and exterior of the defensive line and plays well as a pass rusher and run stopper. Allen had great production with 15 tackles for loss in 2018.
Round 3 pick 73: Jace Sternberger, Tight End, Texas A&M
The Patriots offense took a massive blow with the retirement of Rob Gronkowski. I liked the signing of Austin-Sefarian Jenkins but would still like to see the tight end position addressed during the draft. Jace Sternberger had a great 2018 season, his first at Texas A&M after transferring from JUCO, with 48 catches for 832 yards and 10 touchdowns. Sternberger only had one year of production which could be a red flag to teams, and is essentially just a receiving tight end and doesn’t offer much as a blocker. Sternberger’s size and skill set would help the Patriots offense stretch the field. Sternberger is also a player who had a private workout with the Patriots.
Round 3 Pick 97: Taylor Rapp, Safety, Washington
I would be surprised if Rapp was available at this point in the draft, but if he is would be a great pick for New England. Rapp is a similar type player to Patrick Chung, who just signed a contract extension with the Patriots, as someone who can cover backs and tight ends in the passing game, and can also play close to the line of scrimmage and is good in run support. Rapp is someone who could contribute now as well as sit and learn and be the safety of the future for the Patriots.
Round 3 pick 101: Jarrett Stidham, Auburn, Quarterback
Stidham is one of several quarterbacks the Patriots have had in for private workouts. I would love for the Patriots to be able to take West Virginia QB Will Grier, but he was already off the board in this simulation. Stidham had a good 2017 but struggled some in 2018, but has good different skill sets with his mobility, quick release, and being able to throw on the run with good accuracy. Skills that Josh McDaniels seems to value when drafting quarterbacks, and could be someone McDaniels likes as a potential QB of the future for the likely head coach of the future.
Round 4 pick 134: David Sills, West Virginia, Wide Receiver
Sills is a big body, outside receiver who was a great red zone threat during his time at West Virginia. Sills was a second team All-American in 2017 and led the country with 18 touchdown receptions, and was a third team All-American in 2018 finishing second in the country with 15 touchdown receptions. Sills is a true down field receiver who could help stretch the Patriots offense and be a valuable piece in the red zone.
Round 6 pick 205: Bryce Love, Stanford, Running Back
Running back is not an area of need for the Patriots after selecting Sony Michel in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft and having backs James White and Rex Burkhead on the roster, but being able to grab someone like Love at this point in the draft would be a steal. Love was a Heisman finalist several times during his years at Stanford and put up great numbers before tearing his ACL on the final play of his college career. The Patriots could select Love and place him on Injured Reserve to let him fully recover and team up with Michel to be be a part of the offense for the 2020 season and beyond.
Round 7 pick 239: Mitch Hyatt, Clemson, Offensive Tackle
Hyatt was a four year starter at Clemson and was a part of two National Championship winning teams and was the anchor of Clemson’s line during that time. The Patriots lost LaAdrian Waddle and Trent Brown in free agency and could use depth at tackle, especially with last years first round pick Isaiah Wynn set to be the starter after missing all of last season with a torn Achilles.
Round 7 pick 243: Alex Bars, Guard, Notre Dame
Bars missed most of the 2018 season after suffering an ACL and MCL injury against Stanford. Bars has good size at 6’6 315lbs and could give flexibility at both guard and tackle.
Round 7 pick 246: Kingsley Keke, Defensive Line, Texas A&M
Keke has the ability and skill set to go with his size to play both defensive tackle and defensive end, after dropping 20 pounds to be more of an edge player. Keke had a breakout senior year with 51 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and 7 sacks. Keke is another player who had a private workout with the Patriots and provides the versatility that the Patriots value.
Round 7 pick 252: Justin Hollins, Edge Rusher, Oregon
I don’t see the Patriots using all 12 draft picks that they currently have and could package some picks to move around the board, but projecting as they currently stand the Patriots add depth at pass rusher with their second of four seventh round picks. Hollins has good size at 6’4 240lbs with good speed for his size that would allow him to play special teams and potentially be a situational pass rusher.