The Patriots have a lot of questions to answer as they enter the post-Tom Brady era of their franchise. They’ll have a chance to answer some of them through the 2020 NFL Draft, as they have 12 picks available.
The first area New England needs to address is the pass rush on the edge. John Simon and Brandon Copeland are good edge-setters, but the Patriots need someone who can get to the quarterback in order to complement a solid secondary. They also need to add some depth at linebacker after the departures of Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins and Elandon Roberts in free agency.
Offensively, New England needs to add another quarterback, whether that’s an early-round pick to compete for the starting job or someone in the later rounds to serve as Jarett Stidham’s backup. And the Patriots desperately need some playmakers in the passing game at receiver and tight end.
Don’t forget, they also need a kicker after releasing veteran Stephen Gostkowski.
Here’s a look at how New England might approach the 2020 NFL Draft according to the latest seven-round mock draft from SN’s Vinnie Iyer.
NFL DRAFT BIG BOARD: Ranking the top 100 prospects in 2020
Patriots mock draft 2020
|3||100||K.J. Hill||WR||Ohio State|
|4||125||Willie Gay Jr.||LB||Mississippi State|
|6||204||Alohi Gilman||S||Notre Dame|
|6||212||Isaiah Coulter||WR||Rhode Island|
- Round 1, Pick No. 23: K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE/OLB, LSU
The Patriots desperately need to add a pass-rushing linebacker after losing Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins and Elandon Roberts in free agency. Chaisson absolutely fits the bill. He posted 6.5 sacks and 60 tackles during LSU’s run to the national title, displaying the hybrid build of size (6-3, 254 pounds) and agility that will fit in perfectly with Bill Belichick’s defense.
- Round 3, Pick No. 87: Brycen Hopkins, TE, Purdue
New England may never find someone to fill the void left by Rob Gronkowski at tight end, but Hopkins certainly isn’t a bad alternative. He’s an elite athlete at his position with the size (6-4, 245), speed (4.66 40) and leaping ability (33.5-inch vertical) to be a deadly deep threat in the middle of the field.
- Round 3, Pick No. 98: Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia
Fromm may not have the same arm talent as some of the other QBs in this year’s draft, but similar to Tom Brady when he was a draft prospect, he’s got all the intangibles: intelligence, good decision-making skills and strong leadership qualities. He would have a chance to compete with Jarett Stidham right away for the starting spot.
- Round 3, Pick No. 100: K.J. Hill, WR, Ohio State
Hill is a perfect fit at wide receiver in the Patriots’ system. He fits the mold of past slot receivers who have had career years in New England, and the Pats could use a little more depth in their receiving corps. Belichick’s offense would be able to get the most out of Hill, who is a good route-runner with reliable hands.
- Round 4, Pick No. 125: Willie Gay Jr., LB, Mississippi State
The Patriots could use the fourth round to continue to bolster depth at linebacker. Gay Jr. is a high-energy defender who might lack the positional awareness and instincts to line up at middle linebacker, but can make up for it with impressive speed (4.46 40) and solid tackling. He’s the type of player who could improve dramatically under Bill Belichick.
- Round 5, Pick No. 172: Rodrigo Blankenship, K, Georgia
After releasing Stephen Gostkowski back in March, the Patriots need to find a new kicker. So why not go with Blankenship, the 2019 Lou Groza award winner. Blankenship 80 of 97 (82.5 percent) field goal attempts in four years at Georgia, including a 55-yarder in the 2018 College Football Playoff against Oklahoma, and never missed a PAT. Plus, he’s got those sick goggles.
- Round 6, Pick No. 195: Tanner Muse, S, Clemson
Muse was a solid defender at the collegiate level but might not have the foot speed to play safety in the NFL (although he surprised a lot of people at the combine with a 4.41 40-yard dash). It’s very possible he’ll have to convert to linebacker, which shouldn’t be too bad of a transition thanks to his 6-2 frame. He already plays with the tendencies of a linebacker-safety hybrid, so he should be able to serve as a decent backup and solid special teams player.
- Round 6, Pick No. 204: Alohi Gilman, S, Notre Dame
While Muse may lack the athleticism to play safety in the NFL, Gilman does not. He plays an aggressive brand of defense at safety, always willing to step up and tackle ball-carriers, but he also has a tendency to over-pursue and make mental mistakes in coverage. Still, he has the ability to be a solid backup for the Patriots and can be a key-contributor on special teams.
- Round 6, Pick No. 212: Isaiah Coulter, WR, Rhode Island
Coulter is one of the more raw receiving prospects in this year’s draft with a high ceiling but a low floor. He mostly depended on his size (6-2, 198) and athleticism (4.45 40, 36-inch vertical) to succeed at Rhode Island, but he’ll have to improve his route-running and aggressiveness in tracking the ball.
- Round 6, Pick No. 213: Ben Bredeson, G, Michigan
Bredeson was a four-year starter at Michigan, and while he may not possess the freakish athleticism of some of the top offensive linemen in this year’s draft, there definitely aren’t any questions about his toughness. He’ll be best utilized in the run game and should be able to step in as a reliable backup for the Patriots’ interior line.
- Round 7, Pick No. 230: Dele Harding, LB, Illinois
Another linebacker! It’s hard to find high-value prospects this late in the draft, so the Patriots will likely look to continue to add depth at linebacker. Harding had plenty of production at Illinois with 153 tackles in 2019, good for second-most in the nation. He’s just a bit undersized (6-0, 232 pounds) at linebacker and is much more polished in run defense than pass defense. He’ll likely be an early down linebacker.
- Round 7, Pick No. 241: Joe Gaziano, EDGE, Northwestern
Gaziano, a Massachusetts native, is a pretty solid pickup at this point. He caught the eyes of scouts after posting nine sacks in his senior campaign and breaking the Northwestern career sacks record. He would give the Patriots some much-needed depth on the edge.
Published at Mon, 20 Apr 2020 11:55:48 +0000