BOSTON (CBS) — After months of speculation and trying to guess how NFL masterminds think, NFL Draft week is mercifully here.

Numbers will soon become players (who wear numbers) and NFL rosters will have a whole slew of rookies for fans to get attached to. Best of all, all of those mock drafts will no longer mean anything once Thursday night arrives and picks start to fly off the board in Dallas.

It’s a big night for every team in the NFL, but there is a whole different level of intrigue surrounding the New England Patriots. It’s been a wild and weird offseason, with more questions than answers following their Super Bowl LII loss. But the Patriots are still a team that will contend for another Lombardi Trophy next season, and one who will be looking to add a complement of young players to an older roster. They have needs at linebacker, in the secondary, at left tackle, and yes, at quarterback. The Patriots can focus on the present while also building toward the future with their eight selections this weekend, with many expecting them to draft a potential Tom Brady successor at some point this weekend.

That probably won’t come on Day 1 of the 2018 NFL Draft on Thursday, unless Bill Belichick really gets wild. But here’s what Bill & Company are working with come Thursday evening:

1st round — 23rd overall
1st round — 31st overall
2nd round — 43rd overall
2nd round  — 63rd overall
3rd round — 95th overall
6th round — 198th overall
6th round — 210th overall
7th round — 219th overall

And now, for one final time, WE GO TO THE ROUNDUP! A collection of what the mockers think the Patriots will do with their two first-round selections. This time around, there are no quarterbacks in the collection.

Peter King,

No. 23: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

The Patriots are the chameleon of the first round. As of this morning, I cannot see them trading into the top of the draft for a quarterback. But I can see them doing something else big—I just don’t know what it is. Trading next year’s one? Dealing Gronk? Packaging a lot of picks to go after a beloved played like Bradley Chubb? Mostly, I think the Patriots will stock up on the long-term future. With Evans playing in tandem (at least early) with fellow Tide alum Dont’a Hightower, the Patriots would have a force at linebacker in the next couple years.

rashaan evans Final Mock Draft Roundup: Who Will Patriots Take With Two First Round Picks?

Rashaan Evans of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates with his team after defeating the Georgia Bulldogs in overtime to win the CFP National Championship on January 8, 2018. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

No. 31: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State

I realize the Patriots need long-term players, and Vander Esch has worried some teams in the league with cervical issues at Boise, and he has but one very good season on his résumé. Cool story. He played eight-man football in high school in Idaho, and just recently emerged as a strong bottom-of-the-first-round candidate. Some teams have marked him down because of his neck issues, and there’s a strong chance the Patriots will be too worried about it to pick him here. We’ll see.

Will Brinson, CBS Sports

No. 23: Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA

Bill Belichick typically invests early in front seven players, and he could certainly see the Patriots as a team in need of a pass rusher, both depth and youth. 

No. 31: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa 

Bill Belichick typically invests early in front seven players, but this cornerback class is really deep and it’s going to end up with guys falling down the draft board because of needs for teams elsewhere.

harold landry Final Mock Draft Roundup: Who Will Patriots Take With Two First Round Picks?

Boston College linebacker Harold Landry Virginia Tech’s Josh Jackson. (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)

Chris Trapasso, CBS Sports

 No. 23: Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, Alabama

If James is picked before Fitzpatrick, I can envision him falling the first round. The former Alabama star can be a multi-dimensional defensive back and successful blitzer for Bill Belichick.

No. 31: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville

Mike Hughes could be the selection here. Alexander is more athletic though, which I believe will be the reason the Patriots pick him instead.

Pete Prisco, CBS Local Sports

No. 23: Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA

They need a left tackle and he is the perfect pick. The scouts love this kid.

gettyimages 926009518 Final Mock Draft Roundup: Who Will Patriots Take With Two First Round Picks?

Kolton Miller (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

No. 31: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville

This would be typical New England: Getting one of the top corners in this draft this late in the round.

Dan Kadar, SB Nation

No. 23: D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland

With the departure of Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman coming off injury and turning 32 in May, the Patriots could target a wide receiver early in the draft. Moore could be a star in New England thanks to his athleticism and solid hands.

No. 31: Connor Williams, OT, Texas

At this time last year, people were starting to project Williams as a top 10 pick in the 2018 draft. Williams had an off season, but if one team can get him figured out it’s the Patriots. If he can revert to his old form, Williams could end up being the best offensive tackle from this year’s draft.

No. 23: D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland

New England has to replace both Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola, so the team could consider taking two receivers in the 2018 NFL Draft. Julian Edelman is coming back, but Kenny Britt and Jordan Matthews can’t be relied on to be big contributors. D.J. Moore and Christian Kirk would be perfect fits in the Patriots’ offense. 

In 2017, Moore totaled 80 receptions for 1,033 yards and eight touchdowns. He has a thick build with elusiveness and physicality that make him a dangerous yards-after-the-catch receiver. As a junior, Moore had 41 catches for 637 yards and six scores. Moore (6-0, 210) is a strong wideout who has speed and plays with an aggressive competitive spirit. Multiple teams tell me they are projecting Moore to the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

gettyimages 858767366 Final Mock Draft Roundup: Who Will Patriots Take With Two First Round Picks?

Maryland’s D.J. Moore (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

No. 31: Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA

The Patriots could use more talent at offensive tackle after losing Nate Solder. Miller could compete to start at left or right tackle for New England. 

Miller (6-9, 309) had a rough start to 2017, but turned in a decent season for UCLA blocking for Josh Rosen as the Bruins’ left tackle. Miller has good length to him, athleticism, quickness, and the agility to stay on the edge in the NFL. However, Miller can have problems with speed rushes to the inside, which is in part because of his height and playing too tall. That caused him to have some up and down performances in college. He played right tackle in 2015 and 2016 before injuries ended those seasons early. Miller only played in five games in 2016. Miller has a great skill set with a ton of upside and blocks with a mean streak. He could turn into a special player if he lands with good coaching.

Curtis Conway,

No. 23: Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA

The Patriots need someone to protect Tom Brady. Taking an offensive lineman here would be smart considering they can get a good tight end later on.

No. 31: Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn. State

Do we ever really know if Gronk is going to be able to play? Gesicki offers New England a good tight end whose speed allows him to move around and serve as a mismatch.

mike gesicki Final Mock Draft Roundup: Who Will Patriots Take With Two First Round Picks?

Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki makes an 11-yard touchdown reception for the Nittany Lions against the USC Trojans. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Round 1 of the NFL Draft gets underway Thursday night at 8pm, with Rounds 2-3 on Friday night and Rounds 4-7 on Saturday.


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