This mock draft simulation was conducted over on The Draft Network's mock draft simulator. Go over and try a few yourself to pass some time during your quarantine.
While I went in with the intention of trading down in the first round and making several other trades across the draft board, it ended up being that with exception to one trade, the New England Patriots decided to stay put for the most part. Although Bill Belichick normally likes to move up and down draft boards and will probably continue that trend, it might be a lot more limited this year as the roster has become rather older and expensive. Look for the Patriots to try and acquire several rookies to load up the 90-man roster with youth at a rather inexpensive price.
Let's go over the results from out first mock draft of the season.
Pick 23: K'Lavon Chaisson - EDGE, LSU
Determined to trade down and acquire Zach Baun later in the first round, plans quickly changed when K'Lavon Chaisson became available at 23rd overall. A pure pass rusher who could play the strong side outside linebacker spot in Belichick's 3-4 defense was a juicy, enticing pick.
Chaisson makes a boatload of sense, especially with Kyle Van Noy now gone. Van Noy was viewed as the Patriots' top pass rusher in their system and wreaked havoc as the strong side outside linebacker. Now, Chaisson can fill that role and eventually be a dramatic upgrade over Van Noy. The word dramatic cannot be stressed enough. The sky is the limit for this young edge defender, who is extremely versatile and disruptive. Belichick and Jerod Mayo could get very creative with this young man and mold him into one of the top outside linebackers in the league. Perfect pick at No. 23 given the circumstances with Van Noy and Collins.
Pick 87: Terrell Burgess - S, Utah
I talked about Terrell Burgess extensively here. Burgess is a chess piece who Belichick could also have fun with. He is so good in man coverage that there are talks of moving him to corner. He can lock down slot receivers and tight ends. I'm really excited about what he could potentially do in a secondary like New England's.
Two players have question marks on them right now. Those two players are Patrick Chung and J.C Jackson. There is uncertainty to whether Chung - a long-tenured Patriots strong safety - has anything left in the tank, and he looks to be one of the stronger cut/trade candidates on the team right now. Jackson - a stud cornerback for New England - has hired a new agent and is now in a contract year with the team. Jackson will likely command a high price, based off his performance over the last two seasons. Not only could Burgess potentially fill Jackson's role (large portion is covering slot receivers) should he not return, he could also become the team's future starting strong safety with Chung's future with the team not looking bright.
Pick 98: Van Jefferson - WR, Florida
With Mohamed Sanu in a contract year, Julian Edelman being discussed as a potential trade piece to Tampa Bay, and a mediocre at best receiving core with those two included, it's time to surround Jarrett Stidham with some weapons. So who better to draft at this point on Day 2 then Van Jefferson?
Jefferson is likely the second best route-runner in this class, behind Jerry Jeudy from Alabama. The biggest complaint out of last year's receiving crop was a struggle to gain separation and poor attention to detail in their route-running. Jefferson can cure all of that and could team up with N'Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers to form a nice receiving core for years to come in New England.
Pick 100: K.J. Hill - WR, OSU
Now, drafting two receivers here - at the end of the third round - has a lot to do with the value the team is getting here. New England would be putting together a strong receiving core for the future. Throw K.J. Hill into the mix with Jefferson, Harry, and Meyers, give them time to develop, and that is a nice start to solving the team's receiver woes.
Hill could ideally grow into Edelman's role as the team's slot receiver. PatriotMaven's Devon Clements talked about Hill earlier in the draft process as a great fit for the Patriots. Hill's biggest strengths are his route-running and football IQ. He has a knack for finding soft spots in zones and taking off with the ball in his hands. Edelman is a also master at route-running and his football IQ is extremely high. The opportunity for Hill to learn from Edelman and polish his strengths is golden.
A receiving core of Hill, Jefferson, Harry, and Meyers has a lot of promise. Next offseason, Jefferson and Hill will have a year under their belt. Harry and Meyers will be headed into Year 3. With a projected $100+ million in cap space for New England next offseason, Edelman still under contract then, and a really strong group of free agent receivers like Kennan Allen, Cooper Kupp, T.Y Hilton, Allen Robinson, Chris Godwin, Kenny Golladay, and the list goes on, next season, this team could be competing for one of the top receiving cores in the NFL with two stars and a whole lot of high-quality depth with these youngsters.
*TRADE* Patriots trade fourth round pick (No. 125) to the Los Angeles Rams for tight end Gerald Everett
This tight end class is very weak and after drafting Jefferson and Hill, New England missed out on getting any of the promising tight end prospects in this draft. Instead of searching through the land of misfit toys in this draft class for a tight end that could amount to nothing, they decide to trade for Gerald Everett.
The Rams' tight end has popped up in trade rumors recently and is in the last year of his contract. Los Angeles is reportedly scouring for draft picks as they do not have many in the upcoming drafts and have let too many players walk out the door recently. It would only make sense for them to get value for a player in the final year of his deal, especially if it means moving into position to maybe draft Todd Gurley's replacement.
In the meantime, the Patriots grab a solid tight end that can certainly be their No. 1 guy at that spot. While Everett and LaCosse would win no awards per say, New England could try to re-sign Everett next year and then dip into next year's rich tight end draft class, headlined by Massachusetts native, Pat Freiermuth. Something like that would finally solve the big hole left by retired star Rob Gronkowski.
Pick 172: Khalil Davis - DT, Nebraska
New England needs to stockpile some defensive tackles as Beau Allen and Byron Cowart are the only two signed through the next two seasons. In the event that Adam Butler should leave next year, Khalil Davis from Nebraska could be a nice replacement.
Davis is an undersized defensive tackle, who projects as a solid pass-rushing defensive tackle at the next level. A package of Butler and Davis would work well in passing situations and Davis could be another much needed disruptive force on the line after losing a large portion of the team's pass rush this offseason.
Pick 195: Rodrigo Blankenship - K, Georgia
The Patriots drafted Jake Bailey last year and he ended up beating out Ryan Allen for the starting punter job. Now, with Stephen Gostkowski coming off injury - and carrying a hefty contract with little dead cap money - he could a prime cut candidate. After he struggled last year, there is no reason to believe his job is safe. Some young fresh blood to compete with the longtime kicker seems like a good idea.
Here enters the top kicker in the draft, Roberto Blankenship. His career long is a 55-yard FG through the uprights against Oklahoma. He projects to be the first kicker off the board and seems like the guy with the best chance to kick Gostkowski out of Foxboro.
Pick 204: Darius Anderson - RB, TCU
Large uncertainties surround the runningback position. Rex Burkhead and James White are both in contract years, Sony Michel struggled last year, and Damien Harris (who should see an increased workload) got four touches last regular season. Burkhead's status is largely in the air as he could be another cut/trade candidate to make room for Harris.
Anderson could do the same thing Harris did in his rookie year and almost redshirt - if you will - awaiting the 2021 season. Anderson is shifty and athletic and provides lots of value at this pick. He is a guy who in 2021 could slide right into the third runningback spot with Harris and Michel, providing nice depth and be a nice change of pace option. While he wasn't asked to do it a lot in college, he possesses the skills to become a solid pass catcher as well. A runningback committee of Anderson, Michel, and Harris projects to be a solid one if both White and Burkhead are not on the team come next season.
Pick 212: Alex Taylor - OT, South Carolina State
Alex Taylor will be a project. He will be a guy who could use a case of the infamous "Foxboro Flu". While his technique needs a lot of work, he is an athletic, 6-foot-9 monster of a man who has a lot of untapped potential.
While Taylor would never really be expected to take a starting role at tackle in New England, he could be a solid depth piece and backup to a tackle group with Isaiah Wynn, Yondy Cajuste, and Marcus Cannon, who all suffered injuries at some point during the season last year.
Pick 213: Carter Coughlin - EDGE, Minnesota
Carter Coughlin makes a lot of sense as he projects to be someone who can play the SAM role in a 3-4. While Brandon Copeland or John Simon would likely fill that role, Coughlin could provide depth and develop into a helpful contributor at that spot.
With Collins and Van Noy gone, it will be important to stockpile as many young outside linebackers as possible, and Coughlin could be a nice add to help replace Collins' absence.
Pick 230: James Proche - WR, SMU
A third receiver? The value was too good here. Plus, the Patriots were reportedly gushing over James Proche at the Senior Bowl back in January. One has to believe that if a team gets the opportunity to select a draft crush late in the seventh round, one should take that opportunity. And it never hurts to give a young quarterback like Jarrett Stidham all the weapons he can get.
Proche is strictly a slot receiver with really good, reliable hands. His routes are solid and his blocking is solid. He could a situational player for the Patriots. He is worth taking a shot on and could be a solid, reliable target, much like Meyers was last season.
Pick 241: Charlie Heck - OT, North Carolina
Heck is a heck of a big boy. Much like Taylor, he is another athletic monster. Heck measures in at 6-foot-8, 308 lbs. He moves well and can pull off the edge. New England loved pulling big man Trent Brown off the edge and sending him to lead block downfield in the run game. Even if that is all Heck did while trying to gain his footing in the NFL, that would be a valuable piece to a New England offense that struggled to run block last year.
Heck could be another solid stash player, who could provide depth to a position with players that seem to constantly find themselves in the trainer's office with some sort of ailment.