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Patriots Mock Draft 1.0: New England Addresses WR Woes Multiple Times

The first sneak-peak at how the board could fall for the New England Patriots in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Bill Belichick has the highest cap number of his era with the New England Patriots this year, along with the 15th overall pick (which is one of the highest picks Belichick has had, dating back to 2008 when he selected Jerod Mayo 10th overall). That means there's an opportunity for a spectacular 2021 story regarding the Patriots. 

In a full seven-round mock draft conducted on the Draft Network's Mock Draft Machine, New England addressed needs at tight end, wide receiver, nose tackle, linebacker, cornerback, and offensive tackle. Acquiring young talent that was frequently the best player available on the board. For their first-round pick, get accustomed to seeing this guy throughout the draft process. 

10. Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

*Trade with the Dallas Cowboys, trading picks (overall) 15, 119, 239 and 2022 fourth-rounder for pick 10 overall*

With all three top receivers and all five quarterbacks falling off the board before pick number 10, the Patriots elect to trade up to ensure they can pick Kyle Pitts. While one can make all the arguments they want about who might be the best player at the 15th overall pick, it would be tough to find a player better positioned for success in this offense than Pitts. 

Pitts, an absolute beast of a human, could play receiver at the next level, and he might be the best tight end prospect to come out of the draft in awhile. With exception to Trevor Lawrence, Penei Sewell, and maybe a few others, it's hard to find a better football player than Pitts in this draft. He's a dominant 6-foot-6 specimen who would be able to move around the formation and allow Josh McDaniels to get creative. From here, he'd be able to expose mismatches, along with step in and be an instant difference maker in the pass game. To the point where he could eventually develop into being a first read in the offense.

Having Pitts sitting atop the tight end depth chart would finally answer the questions that were left with the loss of Rob Gronkowski. The now trio of Pitts, Devin Asiasi, and Dalton Keene would be a formidable group for many years, providing lots of value out of different sets in the pass game. Pitts with these tight ends, a creative play-designer like McDaniels, and a dual-threat quarterback could do a lot of damage, hitting defenses from many different directions. 

 47. Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, USC

USC receiver, Amon-Ra St. Brown is the perfect option to start to rehab the New England receiving core. Getting a receiver of his quality at the 47th overall pick, in the second round, is quite a steal, due to a very deep wide receiver class. However, through two picks, the Patriots have hypothetically already drastically changed the outlook of the offense, by giving it two new dynamic playmakers that can be plugged and played right away. 

Both Pitts and St. Brown would find lots of play time right away in this offense, yet, St. Brown, especially, would immediately see playing time with snaps as the starting slot receiver for New England, along with the ability to moved in different spots across the formation. He would be a versatile piece moving forward with that offense. 

96. Tyler Shelvin, DT, LSU

Tyler Shelvin perfectly fits the role of the 3-4 nose tackle the Patriots so desperately need. New England struggled to stop the run last season, and has somewhat struggled to find a consistent presence at nose tackle since Vince Wilfork left the position vacant. This is the kind of player who can penetrate rushing lanes, be a stout anchor, and stuff the run. 

With a rotation of Shelvin, Beau Allen, and hopefully returning Adam Butler and Lawrence Guy, that group would be tough against the run and sure up the middle of the defensive line. Barring health concerns, that group could hold up against most rushing attacks throughout the season. 

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137. Shaka Toney, EDGE, PSU

Shaka Toney should provide a pure pass-rushing presence at defensive end or off the edge as an outside linebacker. Toney, when paired with Chase Winovich and Josh Uche, could provide the ability to put pressure on the quarterback, something that the 2020 New England team struggled with. Toney would be a sub-package player for obvious pass situations. 

The hope is that he could eventually be able to field a role as a three-down defensive end/outside linebacker hybrid, effectively finding a younger replacement for John Simon's role. 

143. Shi Smith, WR, South Carolina 

In a receiver-rich draft, the Patriots take another swing at trying to fix that position. With fixing that spot being so crucial to New England finding success next season, taking another guy like Shi Smith makes a lot of sense. Another polished route-runner, much like St. Brown, who can play out of the slot. This would solidify grabbing two players that could recreate the Edelman-Danny Amendola roles. It would also push Jakobi Meyers outside where he can use more of his 6-foot-2 size. 

With Edelman, Meyers, Smith, St. Brown, and potentially even a free agent signing here, this group is capable of moving the ball downfield and moving the chains with a quarterback. This group would answer a lot of questions. 

183. Ventrell Miller, LB, Florida

A linebacker that has position flexibility and can make tackles sideline to sideline. Belichick can find creative ways to put Miller in the game in run situations and help stop runs like outside zone (which the 2020 Patriots got absolutely smashed on). 

Ventrell Miller is a player who with some coaching from Dont'a Hightower, could actually form into somewhat of a presence over at a middle linebacker spot. By covering the run well and entering the backfield on delayed blitzes, Miller and Hightower could be a combo that reaps benefits for the team long-term. Hightower's future is obviously still in question with New England. 

191. Robert Rochell, CB, Central Arkansas 

Robert Rochell has all the makings of another late-round secondary pick to hit for the Patriots. He'd be an interesting study, as he could potentially switch back and forth between cornerback and free safety, much like many other members of the New England secondary. However, with questions about Stephon Gilmore and J.C. Jackson looming, it will be important to take a shot on another cornerback at some point in this draft class. This late in the draft should do just fine. 

226. Landon Young, OT, Kentucky

*Trade with the San Fransisco 49ers, trading picks (overall) 226 for 2022 and 2023 seventh-round selections*

Much like the question marks with the cornerback position, tackle will be another important spot to address as well. Marcus Cannon's status is uncertain, Michael Owenwu is likely moving inside to replace a leaving Joe Thuney, and Isaiah Wynn and Yodny Cajuste are coming off injuries. That means taking a shot on a late-round big-man like Landon Young makes a lot of sense.

Despite it being a little costly to move back into the seventh round, the Patriots can spare two seventh-round selections for a 6-foot-7 project at tackle in need of molding. With careful attention to some technical issues, Young can serve as a solid security blanket in the time being.