BOSTON (CBS) — We may all be in the throes of The Offseason Of Tom Brady, but believe it or not, the veteran quarterback is not the only important matter to be decided by Bill Belichick and Co. this winter. And before you know it, The Offseason Of Tom Brady will quickly transition to full-fledged NFL Draft Season.

Things tend to move quickly in the NFL.

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Of course, the draft remains a long way away. Teams have free agency (beginning on March 18) to worry about first, and until that stage of the offseason hits, it’s impossible to accurately forecast how teams will operate come draft time. Add in the releases and additions of veteran players, and that’s even more true.

Nevertheless, the mock drafts have begun. Technically, some began in January. People do love their mock drafts.

While these particular picks from around the interwebs likely won’t be accurate, they at least work as a starting point to really get the ball rolling in everybody’s heads with regard to the draft process.

So let’s see what the mockers are saying the Patriots will do at No. 23 overall, shall we?

Xavier McKinney, Safety, Alabama

Xavier McKinney (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

CBS Sports’ Ryan Wilson has the Pats going with a defensive pick at No. 23, citing Devin McCourty’s free agency as a reason.

“Devin McCourty had five interceptions last season, but he’s also set to hit free agency in a few weeks. Even if the Pats bring back the 32-year-old, McKinney would be a natural fit to eventually move into the starting role,” Wilson wrote. “A versatile playmaker at Alabama, McKinney can line up just about anywhere.”

Justin Herbert, Quarterback, Oregon

Justin Herbert (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)’s Daniel Jeremiah said that it’s unlikely that Justin Herbert lasts until No. 23. Nevertheless … he has the Patriots picking Herbert at No. 23.

“It’s highly doubtful Herbert will make it this far, but I could see New England targeting him if he starts to slide,” Jeremiah wrote.

Patrick Queen, Linebacker, LSU

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Patrick Queen (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller went with a defensive pick for the Pats, the 6-foot, 229-pound Patrick Queen out of LSU. Miller also said the Patriots could draft a QB if Brady leaves, and they also could draft at any position. Queen merely represents the best available player at this spot in this mock draft, Miller said.

“Pick No. 23 overall is a simple best-player-available selection for Bill Belichick’s team. Linebacker Patrick Queen fits what New England needs in an athletic, rangy coverage ‘backer who can stay on the field no matter the defensive package or down-and-distance,” Miller wrote. “But, if Brady leaves and they like a quarterback, that could happen here. In truth, every position is on the table for a Patriots team that is looking at a potential rebuild for the first time in 20 years.”

Walter Football also has the Patriots taking Queen, due to Jake Fromm’s poor combine performance: “I’ve been mocking Jake Fromm to the Patriots in this spot for quite some time, but given how much Fromm struggled at the combine, New England might be able to obtain him in the third round. If Bill Belichick believes that to be true, he could opt for a linebacker, given that three of his top four players at the position are heading for free agency.”

Grant Delpit, Safety, LSU

Grant Delpit (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

Another defender from the national champs was mocked to the Patriots, though this time it’s safety Grant Delpit on USA Today’s mock draft.

“Even if Brady re-signs, the Pats could be a team transformed by free agency – which could even mean the departure of longtime S Devin McCourty,” Nate Davis wrote. “Delpit is the versatile type of weapon Bill Belichick loves, and his teammates praised him at the combine for playing through a high ankle sprain during the Tigers’ run to college football’s 2019 title.”

CBS Sports’ Chris Trapasso also has the Pats taking Delpit: “The safety spot in New England is in a state of flux, and Delpit would stabilize that group going forward.”

Curtis Weaver, EDGE, Boise State

Curtis Weaver (Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images)

Defense appears to be the focus for many mockers, with NBC Sports Washington’s Tyler Roman going with Boise State’s Curtis Weaver.

“The Patriots could easily go with a QB here like Utah State’s Jordan Love or Georgia’s Jake Fromm, but I think it’s too early in the process to make that assertion just yet,” Roman wrote. “For those reasons, New England goes with a talented pass rusher at pick 23. Curtis Weaver is a strong and explosive edge rusher who can flat out get to the passer, which is shown in his 34 career sacks in three seasons.”

Jordan Love, Quarterback, Utah State

Jordan Love (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

CBS Sports’ Tom Fornelli is bold enough to make mock trades in his mock drafts, and he had the Patriots trading with the Ravens to move down in the first round. And with the No. 28 pick, he has the Patriots picking a QB of the future.

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“We don’t know where Tom Brady will be next year, but even if it’s in New England, it’s not like he’s there for the long haul,” Fornelli wrote. “Love is an intriguing prospect and excellent value here.”