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NFL Network Sees Patriots Trading Up For WR

NFL analyst Peter Schrager sees a fit for Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith in New England

Everyone, including ESPN, seems focused on the Patriots grabbing a quarterback in the first round of this month’s NFL Draft.

And typically that involves the Pats trading into the top 10 to grab Mac Jones, Justin Fields or Trey Lance.

But NFL Network’s Peter Schrager is bucking that trend. In his latest mock draft, Schrager predicts the Pats will trade up, but select a wide receiver. After he had the Patriots dealing with the Philadelphia Eagles to acquire the No. 12 pick, Schrager sees Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith coming to Foxboro.

“Everyone seems to think Philadelphia is looking to trade up into the top 10, but I believe the Eagles are a prime team to trade down, looking to squeeze out another first-round pick for next year — giving them potentially four in 2022 — or an additional second-rounder in 2021,” Schrager wrote. “New England gives up its second-round pick (No. 46) to move up three spots for the Heisman-winning, Nick Saban-endorsed star WR1.”

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A move like this would assume two things about Bill Belichick:

1. He thinks he can win with Cam Newton starting with all the added weapons —Smith, Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor at receiver; Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry at tight end;

2. He thinks he can get a future quarterback in the third or fourth round.

Here’s some of what the NFL Draft Bible had to say about the 6-foot-1, 175-pound Smith:

“A big play threat who brings length, burst and hands, Smith can create separation as well as any receiver in college football. He really thrives versus man coverage, as he shows the burst and acceleration to blow right past defenders; extremely quick release off the line of scrimmage. His run after catch ability, aggressiveness to finish runs and willingness to block, complement his solid route running, making Smith a complete package. … Despite a standout career, there are some concerns over Smith’s slight frame, making him an outlier of sorts. Leadership is no question, being named a team captain in 2019 and 2020. With his combination of craftiness, route running and hand strength, Smith has the type of athletic profile to transcend his odd build.”