Patriots Steal Value Off Big Board in SI Mock Draft 4.0
SI.com's mock draft 4.0 has the New England Patriots taking value over need.
At no. 23 overall, the Patriots don't take a safety, offensive lineman, wide receiver, or tight end. Instead, they take an edge defender who fell down the board. New England select's Iowa's A.J. Epenesa in Kevin Hanson's latest mock draft.
"While not the most explosive off the line, Epenesa possesses a nice blend of power, length and heavy hands. While he started the 2019 season slowly, he closed the season strong with eight sacks and four forced fumbles over his final five games."
Though this pick does not bolster their offense in any way, which is something the Patriots desperately need to do this offseason, especially if they want to retain Tom Brady, Bill Belichick in this scenario couldn't let value pass him by in the first round. Epenesa is believed to have one of the highest floors by an edge rusher in this draft, which makes selecting him at no. 23 a surefire steal for New England.
With Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins and Shilique Calhoun testing free agency this offseason, the Patriots will need to add an edge presence through the draft if their intention is to focus on offense in free agency. Though drafting an edge defender in the first round isn't necessary, it definitely improves a unit that could use an upgrade in 2020. Epenesa and Chase Winovich could be a young, 1-2 punch for the Patriots and would likely have Belichick reverting back to a 4-3 scheme due to the strength on his defensive line.
In three seasons at Iowa, Epenesa recorded 61 tackles, 36 tackles for loss, 26.5 sacks and nine forced fumbles.