BOSTON (CBS) — We’re in the final stretch of all the pre-NFL Draft madness. The experts are going all-out with their final mock drafts, and soon enough, real picks will actually be made by real NFL executives.
Some of those picks may even work out for all the parties involved. Most will not.
The New England Patriots will certainly be busy on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Bill Belichick and his staff are armed with 12 picks in the 2019 NFL Draft, and plenty of holes to fill up and down the roster. Tight end and wide receiver are the two biggest needs on the offensive side, not to mention a potential QB of the future. The defensive line could use another edge rusher with Trey Flowers now in Motown, and it could also use a few more big bodies to help clog the middle. And while the Patriots have more special teams specialists than any other team in the NFL, Belichick will probably pick at least one more of those before his drafting binge is through.
Here is New England’s collection of picks this year:
1st Round, 32nd overall (own)
2nd Round, 56th overall (via Chicago)
2nd Round, 64th overall (own)
3rd Round, 73rd overall (via Detroit)
3rd Round, 97th overall (comp pick for Nate Solder)
3rd Round, 101st overall (comp pick for Malcolm Butler)
4th Round, 134th overall (own)
6th Round, 205th overall (comp pick for Danny Amendola)
7th Round, 239th overall (via Philadelphia)
7th Round, 243rd overall (via Cleveland)
7th Round, 246th overall (own)
7th Round, 252nd overall (comp pick for Cameron Fleming)
Really, no one knows what the Patriots are going to do when the three-day festivities begin Thursday night. But that doesn’t stop the experts from trying to get under Belichick’s hood. Here’s a collection of who some of the experts think the Patriots will draft, including a few seven-round mocks in the mix. Don’t worry, it will all be over soon.
1st Rd, No. 32: A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss
Brown is a “big” slot receiver who played alongside D.K. Metcalf in college. Tough after the catch, Brown has big-play ability and will give Tom Brady a big-catch-radius player in the middle of the field in this new Post-Gronk.
2nd Rd, No. 56: Jace Sternberger, TE, Texas A&M
Sternberger is the latest name in a deep tight end class. He’s not the blocker that Hockenson or Smith (or Rob Gronkowski, who retired on Sunday) may be, but he’s every bit as dynamic when it comes to stretching the field.
2nd Rd, No. 64: Zach Allen, DE, Boston College
Allen isn’t a quick-twitch pass rusher but he can control the line of scrimmage with his strength. The Boston College product uses his hands to beat blockers and shows a nonstop motor.
3rd Rd, No. 73: Blake Cashman, LB, Minnesota
Cashman brings his athleticism, playmaking ability and high football IQ to Foxborough.
3rd Rd, No. 97: Khalen Saunders, DT, Western Illinois
Thick, compactly built and athletic, Saunders is a pocket collapser who excelled at the FCS level.
3rd Rd, No. 101: Ryan Finley, QB, NC State
Finley is the best anticipation thrower in this class and has a great feel for identifying options based on defense. He processes information quickly, which he needs to do because of lack of elite arm strength.
4th Rd, No. 134: Kingsley Keke, DL, Texas A&M
6th Rd, No. 205: Saivion Smith, CB, Alabama
7th Rd, No. 239: Tommy Sweeney, TE, Boston College
7th Rd, No. 243: Greg Dortch, WR, Wake Forest
7th Rd, No. 246: Mike Weber, RB, Ohio State
7th Rd, No. 252: Trace McSorley, QB, Penn State
Parris Campbell, WR, Ohio State
They typically go defense or trade back — I get that, but I also can see them adding a smaller speedster who can be utilized in multiple ways in this offense to be a gamebreaker.
Parris Campbell, WR, Ohio State
This is a team that needs deep speed in the worst way. They have to get faster. Campbell is the fastest receiver in this draft.
Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State
I don’t think this is the likely Patriots pick, but I don’t know who is, and I wanted to get this great player in the first round. The second-best best DT in the draft (behind Quinnen Williams) till tearing his ACL earlier this year won’t be available to play until 2020, and he’s also got some personal rehab to do after a past physical altercation with a woman. Simmons could have the kind of impact Jaylon Smith had for the Cowboys after a serious knee injury in his last college game—and the team that picks him will have to wait only one year for Simmons, not the two seasons Dallas afforded Smith to get physically right. Smith was the 34th pick overall in 2016. We’ll see if a team near the bottom of round one or top of round two takes a shot on Simmons.
Joejuan Williams, DB, Vanderbilt
Bill Belichick is always looking ahead, and he mentioned in his pre-draft press conference the need to match up with bigger receivers and athletic tight ends. The Patriots have had Patrick Chung in that role for a while. They could find another, bigger version of him. And I think that’s what they’ll see in this guy, rather than just lining up as a corner like most are doing.
A.J. Brown, WR, Mississippi
Demaryius Thomas’ one-year deal doesn’t amount to much more than a flier for a New England team in need of receiving reinforcements. Still somewhat of an unknown entity as a downfield target, Brown should find his place in New England’s passing attack with his penchant for dominating in the short area.
Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
After the top 15 or so, it can be hard to find a great spot for Fant. That could benefit the Patriots. In fact, with 12 draft picks, he is the one player you could see them actually move up on. They probably won’t, because the Patriots never trade up, but he makes sense.
Parris Campbell, WR, Ohio State
The Patriots added a couple of receivers in free agency, but neither is the game-breaking player Tom Brady needs. With Rob Gronkowski retired, Brady’s only viable weapon is Julian Edelman, so that could certainly change with this selection. Parris Campbell seems like he’d be a perfect fit in New England’s offense.
Campbell has big-play ability, but didn’t live up to it statistically in the past because of some poor passing. That changed late in 2018, as Campbell dominated Michigan in the regular-season finale. There’s a decent chance he’s the third receiver drafted.
In his seven-round mock draft, Reuter has the Patriots trading their first-round pick to the San Francisco 49ers and then drafting Alabama tight end Irv Smith Jr. with the No. 36 pick:
Smith’s not Gronk, but he plays with physicality and will be a reliable target for Tom Brady. The Patriots add a 2020 third-rounder in the trade.
2nd Round, No. 56: Zach Allen, Edge, Boston College
Allen’s a high-motor edge player who’s able to line up across from tackles or off their outside shoulder.
2nd Round, No. 64: Joejuan Williams, DB, Vanderbilt
William’s slow 40-yard dash times probably won’t hurt his stock too much. New England must add youth to the secondary in this draft.
3rd Round, No. 73: Will Grier, QB, West Virginia
I expect the Patriots to find a quarterback in this draft, and Grier is worthy of a shot in the third round.
3rd Round, No. 97: Kingsley Keke, DL, Texas A&M
Keke would be a bargain here for the Patriots, who could line him up inside or outside depending on the front.
3rd Round, No. 101: Jamal Davis, Edge, Akron
Davis will be a surprise pick to many, but I think he’s the sort of all-around player the Patriots appreciate on the outside.
4th Rd, No. 134: Gary Jennings, WR, West Virginia
6th Rd, No. 205: Jalen Hurd, WR, Baylor
7th Rd, No. 239: Rodney Anderson, RB, Oklahoma
7th Rd, No. 243: Terez Hall, LB, Missouri
7th Rd, No. 246: Saquan Hampton, S, Rutgers
7th Rd, No. 252: Nick Allegretti, C, Illinois
1st Round, No. 32: Daniel Jones, QB, Duke
Jones is my guy. If I didn’t take him here, McShay might wait until the third round! Jones has upside, and he will soak up everything he can from Tom Brady.
2nd Round, No. 56: Kahale Warring, TE, San Diego State
Get to know the former walk-on Warring because he is going to go on Day 2. He has tremendous upside, though he isn’t going to be Gronk.
2nd Round, No. 64: Dre’Mont Jones, DT, Ohio State
With the third of six Patriots picks in the first three rounds, I’ll grab a defensive tackle with a high ceiling. Don’t be shocked if Bill Belichick takes a wide receiver in Round 2, though.
3rd Round, No. 73: Riley Ridley, WR, Georgia
Ridley has burst and runs good routes. Tom Brady needs a weapon with Julian Edelman entering his age-33 season and Rob Gronkowski off to retirement.
3rd Round, No. 97: Sean Bunting, CB, Central Michigan
Bunting might be a project guy for Bill Belichick, but he has shown the ability to jump routes and make plays.
3rd Round, No. 101: Mecole Hardman, WR, Georgia
Yeah, we got Riley Ridley for the Pats already. But they still need a slot receiver. Enter Hardman, who is electric with the ball in his hands. He’ll also help in the return game.