BOSTON (CBS) — The NFL Draft is nearly upon us, a mere two weeks away. That has meant mock drafters have been mocking away at a furious pace.

At least most of them have. And in this edition of our Patriots Mock Draft Roundup, the mockers tend to agree that New England will take either quarterback Jordan Love or Iowa edge rusher A.J. Epenesa when their turn arrives in the first round.

Of course, all that matters is how Bill Belichick wants to use the No. 23 pick when the draft virtually begins on April 23. But at least there is some consistency in the method to these mockers’ madness over the last week:

Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN

Jordan Love, QB, Utah State

Jordan Love (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Are the Patriots really going to roll with Jarrett Stidham, Brian Hoyer and Cody Kessler as their 2020 quarterbacks? I’m not buying it. I’ll stick with a QB here, although I’m moving Love back into the fourth spot in my QB rankings, ahead of Jacob Eason. At 6-foot-4, Love has all the traits that teams look for in a starter, but his 2019 stats — 20 TD passses, 17 INTs — will scare off some. I don’t put much stock in it because of all of the talent (and an entire coaching staff) that he lost from the 2018 season, when he had 32 TD passes and six INTs. It’s tough to know whether Bill Belichick is going to treat the season as a rebuild, but taking Love makes sense either way.

*Kiper hasn’t mocked since March 24, and the Patriots have since released Kessler

Todd McShay, ESPN

A.J. Epenesa, DE, Iowa

A.J. Epenesa (Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images)

These aren’t the Patriots we are accustomed to seeing. They could use upgrades in a bunch of areas, including quarterback, wide receiver and a handful of spots on defense. I don’t expect coach Bill Belichick to reach for a QB here, and while wide receiver is in play, it seems unlikely two years in a row on Day 1. So how about an edge rusher? LSU’s K’Lavon Chaisson is the better player, but Belichick has a strong relationship with Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, and Epenesa fits nicely with the Patriots’ 3-4 system as a 5-technique.

Ryan Wilson, CBS Sports

Jordan Love, QB, Utah State

We don’t think Love will last this long but because there are no trades in this mock draft, he falls to New England, who will not let him get away.

Chris Trapasso, CBS Sports

A.J. Epenesa, DE, Iowa

Epenesa isn’t too different from former Patriots star Trey Flowers, a long, handwork specialist who can play anywhere along the defensive line.

Daniel Jeremiah,

A.J. Epenesa, DE, Iowa

The Patriots love size and power on the edges. Epenesa isn’t an elite tester, but he’s a very productive football player.

Charles Davis,

Jordan Love, QB, Utah State

Yes, totally against the grain for New England to select a QB this high, but Love could easily be selected in the top 10. The Patriots snap up the QB to begin the post-Brady era.

OK, now we’ll take a break from the Love/Epenesa lovefest for a little bit of variety at No. 23…

Connor Orr, Sports Illustrated

Cole Kmet, TE, Notre Dame

Notre Dame tight end Cole Kmet. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

How Belichickian! The entire world expects him to select a Tom Brady heir apparent and instead he takes a powerful tight end who can gobble footballs in the red zone. Kmet must improve as a run blocker in order to fit harmoniously into New England’s scheme, but the Patriots have the coaching talent to make that happen. I’m clearly higher on Kmet than many; someone like LSU linebacker Patrick Queen also makes some sense here.

Doug Kyed,


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We were offered a trade by the Los Angeles Chargers before the draft started to send our first-round pick and our lowest sixth-round pick for their second- (37th overall) and third-round picks (71st overall). The deal added up perfectly on the trade value chart, so we agreed to it. We weren’t committed to a trade-down but figured we could wait until early in the second round to take our top target.

*With that second-round pick, Kyed has New England drafting LB/S Jeremy Chinn out of Southern Illinois

Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama

Alabama safety Xavier McKinney knocks a pass away from Clemson receiver Hunter Renfrow. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

I’ve been mocking Jake Fromm to the Patriots in this spot or 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 safety like Xavier McKinney, who is the perfect safety for Bill Belichick’s scheme.