Patriots Mock Draft 4.0: New England Moves Out of 1st Round, Conduct Several Trades
The New England Patriots have two goals this offseason: free up cap space and get younger in the process. That's why they let Tom Brady, Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins and Nate Ebner walk in free agency.
But what's the best way for New England to get younger and save as much money as possible while filling their roster? The draft, of course. That's why the Patriots are happy to have a dozen draft picks to use in the 2020 NFL Draft, so they can wheel and deal and work their way up or down the draft board as they see fitting.
In this mock draft - which was done on The Draft Network's premium version of their mock draft simulator - the six-time Super Bowl champions conducted several trades, one of which involved trading out of the first round in order to acquire another pick in the top 50. Depending on how the their draft board plays out, it's possible New England could get one of their highly-graded players early in the second round, which is what happened for them in the 4th edition of PatriotMaven's mock draft.
Let's go over the results:
*TRADE* Patriots send picks 23, 87, and 204 to the Indianapolis Colts for picks 34 and 44. With pick 23, the Colts select Jordan Love, quarterback out of Utah State.
34. AJ Epenesa, DL, Iowa
With the first pick from the trade with the Colts, New England gets plenty of value here by grabbing a defensive lineman with a first-round grade. As a player that has been compared to Trey Flowers, A.J. Epenesa - who has the ability to move all over the defensive line and could become a valuable chess piece for New England's front seven - is a perfect match for the Patriots' defensive scheme.
44. Patrick Queen LB, LSU
Patrick Queen - another player with a first round grade - was available with the second pick New England received form the trade with Indianapolis. And yet again, the Patriots add another playmaker to their front seven. Queen is a raw, explosive athlete with phenomenal range, vision and cover skills. With the linebacker position somewhat in shambles at the moment and Dont'a Hightower due to become a free agent next year, jumping on a stud linebacker like Queen makes all the sense in the world, especially at this point in the draft.
98. Ben Bartch, T, St. John's
Although he is project at tackle, Ben Bartch has all the size and tools to become a quality starter in the pros. Bartch is nasty and crazy strong. However, he is a small school prospect who will need time to adjust to NFL life. Eventually, he has the tools to become a starter at offensive tackle. With Marcus Cannon's future uncertain, Wynn frequently injured, and Yodny Cajuste just in his second year, getting another tackle with starting potential makes a whole lot of sense.
100. K.J Hill, WR, OSU
An underneath route runner who seems to consistently find separation is what the Patriots need at receiver. K.J. Hill is a phenomenal route-runner who can run the New England route tree, catch the ball well, find separation, and be their next slot receiver for years to come is all that needs to be said. Hill has been dubbed by many as one of the most underrated players in this year's draft, and PFF even compare him to Rams wideout Cooper Kupp. Everything about him almost makes too much sense for the Patriots. To get him at the end of the third round and have him learn from Julian Edelman is an absolute no-brainer.
*TRADE* Patriots send picks 125 and 212 to the Arizona Cardinals for picks 131 and 202. With pick 125, the Cardinals select Zack Moss, runningback out of Utah.
131. Tyler Johnson, WR, Minnesota
Another receiver is drafted here with the Cardinals' pick. The Patriots take another promising, undervalued receiver, who much like Hill, runs outstanding routes in Tyler Johnson. The Minnesota wideout has received comparisons to Packers' receiver Davante Adams. This speaks to his route-running ability, his flexibility to line up inside and out, and his ability to become a red zone threat at the next level. Adding Johnson provides yet another young receiver into the mix for Stidham to throw to next season.
*TRADE* Patriots send picks 172, 213, and 241 to the Denver Broncos for picks 178 and 181. With pick 172, the Broncos select Shaquille Quarterman, linebacker out of Miami.
178. Dalton Keene, TE, Virginia Tech
After missing out on some of the top tight ends in the class, New England selects Dalton Keene. The Virginia Tech tight end provides value and has sky-high potential in the passing game. While Keene will likely never be more than the second tight end on a roster, the Patriots will take their chances with Keene and hope to develop him into a valuable asset. Hopefully, he can be someone who compliments whoever eventually fills the void left by now WWE champion, Rob Gronkowski.
181. Khalil Davis, DT, Nebraska
With Byron Cowart being the only defensive tackle signed through 2022, New England will need a backup plan for Adam Butler, Beau Allen, and Lawrence Guy. Khalil Davis fits the scheme well, lines up all over the defensive line, and can help stop the run (something that last year's defense struggled to do at times). Having Davis and Cowart on the sideline to rotate in on occasion is valuable and can help this year's defense immensely. While Davis has a very limited ceiling, he can be a small piece of the puzzle that helps New England's defensive line win in the trenches.
*TRADE* Patriots send pick 195 to the Green Bay Packers for picks 236 and 242. With pick 195, the Packers select Tanner Muse, safety out of Clemson.
*TRADE* Patriots send pick 202 to the Chicago Bears for picks 226 and 233. With pick 202, the Bears select Juaun Jennings, receiver out of Tennessee.
226. Jake Luton, QB, Oregon State
With the option between Nate Stanley and Jake Luton here, New England picks Luton to be their backup. Luton seems to have a lot more upside. He protects the ball well, has solid arm talent, and seemed to improve every year in college as starter. Luton is a guy who - with proper development - could not only have some promise, but could also have some longevity with the Patriots as a very good backup option.
230. Tyler Bass, K, Georgia Southern
Just the other day, I wrote about the kicker battle between Rodrigo Blankenship and Bass. I talked about how the Patriots would be smart to wait at the kicker position and see what comes to them. Well, Blankenship was already off the board at this point, so Bass is the guy, which should make everyone more than happy. Bass will step into Stephen Gostkowski's shoes and will have longevity as New England's kicker by my estimation.
233. Carter Coughlin, OLB, Minnesota
Carter Coughlin just continues to slide into the seventh round of mock drafts, which makes him an easy pick for the Patriots. He fits right into the 3-4 outside linebacker mold and can help stitch up the holes left by Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy. With Epenesa, Queen, Davis, and now Coughlin, Bill Belichick can rest easy at night knowing he has a bunch of young talent in his front seven.
236. Jalen Elliott, S, Notre Dame
Another player who is always available in the seventh round and is such an easy pick for New England is safety Jalen Elliott. He exploded at the Senior Bowl, proving many doubters wrong about his man coverage ability. He can be another valuable chess piece for the Patriots' defense, helping their secondary by covering tight ends and limiting scoring opportunities in the red zone.
242. Danny Pinter, OL, Ball State
This pick really helps sure up the offensive line. Danny Pinter really doesn't have a position. He is flexible across the offensive line, with an ability to play center, guard, and tackle. While he is likely not a starting caliber player at any of those positions, having a guy who can provide that type of versatility is very valuable for a Patriots team who struggled because of a lack of depth on their o-line last season when players began to get injured.
This type of draft would be a great haul for New England. Epenesa, Queen, Bartch, Hill, Bass, Johnson, and Coughlin are all players with starting potential in the NFL. While saying something like that is obviously extremely hopeful and optimistic, it goes to show the upside those players have, which is exactly what New England need as they enter an alleged one-year retool.