BOSTON (CBS) — We’re almost done, folks. All the hype, all the rumors, all the speculation and all the lying (well, most of the lying) are about to come to an end. The NFL Draft is almost upon us.
And the arrival of the real, actual NFL Draft means the official end of mock draft season. No more best guesses or shots in the dark — just actual selections flying off the board starting Thursday night.
It’s a big weekend for the New England Patriots, as the team enters the draft with 10 selections and a few important needs — including a giant one at quarterback. There has been a lot of speculation that Bill Belichick and company are looking to jump into the Top 10 to draft a QB of the future, but some mockers believe that in the end, the Pats will draft a game-changer at defense with their first pick.
So for one final time, we’re rounding up the mockers to see whom they believe the Patriots will select at No. 15. Or in several cases, a few picks earlier. And from those mockers who just don’t want to say goodbye to their favorite time of the year, we have upwards of 10 Patriots picks to get us all jazzed up for the 2021 NFL Draft:
No. 10: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
In his three-round mock draft, Wilson has the Patriots sending picks Nos. 15 and 46 to Dallas to move up to No. 10 to take their QB of the future in Lance:
The Pats filled just about every need they had in free agency … except QB, at least long-term. Yes, Cam Newton re-upped for another year, but we’re guessing Bill Belichick wasn’t super-charged by all the losing in 2020 and he’ll do everything in his power to change that.
No. 96: Patrick Jones, EDGE, Pittsburgh
No. 10: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
In his three-round mock draft, Trapasso also has the Patriots making a move to No. 10 to take their quarterback of the future. But it isn’t Trey Lance, whom he mocks to the Denver Broncos at No. 7. Trapasso has the Patriots moving up to take Mac Jones:
Bill Belichick makes somewhat of an aggressive move to climb five spots to take the Alabama quarterback. New England trades its third-round pick, a fifth-round pick, and a future sixth-rounder to swing this deal.
No. 46: Richie Grant, S, UCF
No. 7: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
New England sacrifices a future first-round pick and No. 15 overall to move up to No. 7 overall. With the pick, the Patriots take Trey Lance to lead an overhauled roster.
No. 46: Jabril Cox, LB, LSU
Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
If he fell to them, which I really don’t think will happen, they should be thrilled to get him here. This is where many expected him to go a month ago anyway.
Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
The Patriots exhibit patience here and still get a first-round quarterback. Jones can compete with Cam Newton in Year 1, and he’s a good fit to spread the ball around to the plethora of playmakers New England invested in this offseason. Jones has the second-lowest percentage of negatively graded throws among recent NFL prospects, which should work well with the Patriots’ offense.
No. 10: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
Dallas doesn’t get a playmaker falling into its lap like CeeDee Lamb did last season, but the trade-back so that New England could grab PFF’s fifth-ranked quarterback is a big win for a team that needs to build depth. The Patriots don’t have many players who will get past 10 yards downfield, and the tight end attack over the middle of the field fits perfectly for Mac Jones, who led the FBS in on-target throw rate last season.
Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
Howe has the Patriots drafting Lance at No. 7 after working out a deal with the Detroit Lions, sending pick No. 15, a fourth-round pick (No. 120) and a 2022 first-round pick to Detroit:
Lance has every tool to become a franchise quarterback. He is smart with the ball, with 42 touchdowns (28 passing) and no interceptions – only two balls hit a defender’s hands, according to NDSU coaches – during an undefeated FCS national championship season in 2019. Lance has a rocket arm, a powerful, bullying running style, a great football mind, a leading personality and an unquenchable thirst to prove people wrong. And with his 21st birthday next month, Lance has a massive amount of room to grow. He won’t hit his prime until the midway point of his second contract.
That is one of the three trades that Howe mocks, including one that send cornerback J.C. Jackson to Washington for the No. 51 pick. Here are the selections that Howe mocked:
No. 42 (from NY Giants for Nos. 46 and 122): Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia
No. 51 (from WFT for J.C. Jackson): Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri
No. 88 (from L.A. Rams for Nos. 96, 188, 242): D’Ante Smith, OT, East Carolina
No. 139: Dayo Odeyingbo, DL, Vanderbilt
No. 177: Larry Borom, OL, Missouri
No. 197: Racey McMath, WR, LSU
No. 13: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
Perry has Waddle slipping in the first round and the Patriots taking full advantage, sending picks Nos. 15 and 96 (third-round compensatory pick) to the L.A. Chargers:
As for the Patriots, they just took a first-round wideout back in 2019. Hasn’t panned out. Now they’re in the top half of the first round and they take another? Well, Waddle is among the best fits in this draft class for the Patriots — a prototype among prototypes because of his athleticism and his Alabama pedigree. He’s a legitimate deep threat. He’s an explosive short-to-intermediate route runner. He can catch a screen and take it to the house. He’s also the best return man in this year’s draft. And he’ll have Nick Saban’s stamp of approval.
Perry has the Patriots passing on the chance to draft Trey Lance, who ends up in Chicago at No. 18, but he does have New England taking a QB in the second round — Florida’s Kyle Trask at No. 46.
Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC
We believe Vera-Tucker is the most likely pick here at No. 15 overall. Someone could fall, and the Patriots could trade up (Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith? Alabama quarterback Mac Jones?) or down (Miami defensive end Jaelan Phillips? Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins?), but Vera-Tucker is our best guess at who New England will grab in the first round.
Like Patriots left tackle Isaiah Wynn, Vera-Tucker is an undersized offensive lineman who played both guard and tackle in college. He would give the Patriots flexibility moving forward if Trent Brown leaves in free agency next season or if New England has a rash of injuries on its offensive line this season.
Most NFL teams would probably only consider Vera-Tucker at guard because of his short arms. The Patriots seemingly care less about length at offensive tackle than most teams, so don’t be surprised if they move him around their line.
Kyed does have the Patriots picking up two quarterbacks during the draft: Jimmy Garoppolo via trade for a conditional 2022 second-round pick and Arkansas’ Feleipe Franks in the sixth round.
No. 10: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
Kelly has the Patriots trading nos. 15 and 46 to Dallas for the 10th overall selection and the right to draft Fields:
The Patriots have been uncharacteristically aggressive this offseason and I expect that strategy to continue in the draft. Fields would give New England their long-term Tom Brady replacement and it’d be fun as hell to see him run an offense coordinated by Josh McDaniels. The Patriots are built to win now, and Fields could challenge Cam Newton for the starting job from day one.
No. 8: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
Schrager has the Patriots trading up with the Panthers to take Fields at 8th overall:
New England goes and get Fields, a guy many in the league seem to be split on. Although it might be a silent majority, more offensive coaches than not love the size, the speed, the makeup, the smarts and the person. I don’t think the Patriots are done with their offseason of aggressiveness.
Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
There’s plenty of chatter about the Pats trading up for a QB, and they might have to in order to secure Jones’ services. In this scenario, they stick and pick this ultra-accurate thrower.
Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
Perhaps Bill Belichick changes his ways and selects a quarterback in the first round. Fields is a five-star talent who offers big-play potential in both the run and pass games.
Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
Arguably the best defender in this draft, Parsons is a monster talent. A dominant off-ball linebacker with pass-rush potential and playmaking ability at the second level, Parsons is a player the Patriots’ defense hasn’t had since Jamie Collins was in his prime. It’s possible Parsons is long gone at this point, as I could see him coming off the board as early as No. 7 to the Lions. If that’s the case, would Bill Belichick consider drafting a WR in the first round for the second time in three years, with the Heisman Trophy winner Devonta Smith available here? That said, the Patriots have had better success with defenders in this range, and Parsons is the pick for me.
Reutter mocked all seven rounds, and in his world of mockery, the Patriots wait until the sixth round to draft a quarterback. Wild.
No. 15: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
Last month, I projected this pairing, anticipating the departure of Julian Edelman. Now that Edelman has announced his retirement, Waddle’s placement in the slot — and as a returner — makes even more sense.
No. 46: Kelvin Joseph, CB, Kentucky
No. 96: Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama
No. 120: Demetric Felton, WR, UCLA
No. 122: Tommy Togiaia, DT, Ohio State
No. 139: Sadarius Hutcherson, OG, South Carolina
No. 177: Ben Mason, FB, Michigan
No. 188: Christian Uphoff, S, Illinois State
No. 197: Feleipe Franks, QB, Arkansas
No. 242: Israel Mukuamu, CB, South Carolina
No. 15: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
With the top five quarterbacks off the board, the Patriots should wait until Day 2 to find a new signal-caller and obtain help on their defensive line or linebacking corps in the meantime. The latter area was a huge problem for New England last year.
Looking like the next great linebacker to come out of Penn State, Micah Parsons was very productive. That was not a surprise, as Parsons was a highly athletic five-star recruit. Parsons has some off-the-field problems, but all it takes is one team to fall in love with him.
No. 46: Kellen Mond, QB, Texas A&M
Bill Belichick passed on all the quarterbacks in the 2020 NFL Draft. I imagine he won’t be doing that again. Kellen Mond was inconsistent throughout his Texas A&M career, but he has shown improvement in accuracy.
No. 96: D’Wayne Eskridge, WR, Western Michigan
The Patriots overpaid for a couple of receivers this offseason, so their situation at the position is still dire.
No. 120: Patrick Jones, DE, Pittsburgh
The Patriots are now chasing the Bills. To beat them, they’ll need to pressure Josh Allen as much as possible.
No. 122: Amari Rodgers, WR, Clemson
The Patriots could draft as many as three receivers to fix their issues at the position.
No. 139: Dorian Etheridge, LB, Louisville
Bill Belichick usually boasts a great linebacking corps, but that was hardly the case last year because of numerous departures.
No. 177: Camryn Bynum, CB, California
The Patriots have some older cornerbacks they’ll need to replace in the near future.
No. 188: Anthony Schwartz, WR, Auburn
The Patriots could add another receiver if they begin to have buyers’ remorse after overpaying two pedestrian players at the position.
No. 192: Naquan Jones, NT, Michigan State
The Patriots haven’t addressed their defensive line depth yet, which they will do at some point.
No. 242: Benjamin St-Juste, CB, Minnesota
Every team always wants better cornerback depth, so the Patriots could find that with this pick.