Free agency starts in exactly a month yesterday, and that's when we'll start to see the makings of the Patriots roster. Bill Belichick and Nick Cesario won't really be able to start putting their draft board together until they see how free agency shakes out, and they can properly assess the Patriots needs. Tom Brady will obviously have the biggest impact on the draft.
Last night I went on fanspeak.com and completed my first of many Patriots mock drafts. I drafted as if Tom Brady was returning to the Patriots in 2020, so spoiler alert, I didn't draft a quarterback.
K'Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU - 23rd overall pick
The Patriots hit with Chase Winovich in the third round last year, and John Simon was a solid partner, but Belichick needs to add what Michael Bennett was going to bring when Belichick traded for him last season.
Chaisson is 6'4 and weighs 250 lbs. He did tear his ACL is 2018, but he bounced back in 2019 recording 60 tackles, 6.5 sacks, two passes defended, and one forced fumble.
"The type of build and mobility to drool over. He’s thickly built throughout his frame with ideal length. Springy bounce in his steps in every direction and he’s extremely loose throughout his frame, particularly in his hips and ankles. Has all the flexibility needed to corner and bend. Has been tasked with a host of responsibilities both in space and at the line of scrimmage. First step and closing burst are exceptional. Smooth and explosive out of both a two- and three-point stance. Lethal shooting gaps. Has upside on man (situationally) and zone coverage. Coverage drops are fluid and he trusts his technique to reach landmarks. Holds his own exchanging power with offensive linemen in the trenches, setting firm edges and squeezing gaps. Long arms and heavy hands. Looks comfortable in space and he plays with unrelenting urgency. Pass rush variety developed quite a bit in 2019, showcasing speed rush, bull rush, stabs, counters and spins to get home. His athletic profile and fluidity is a tough assignment for offensive linemen and there were times Chaisson just ran circles around them." - The Draft Network
Jared Pinkney, TE, VANDERBILT - 87th overall pick
The Patriots need to address the tight end position in the draft. The talent pool isn't necessarily deep, but Jared Pinkney is probably a second round pick that will fall to the third round.
Pinkney won't be a dominant pass catcher, but he would be instrumental into turning the run game back into a dominant force like it was 2018.
Pinkney is 6'4 and weighs 254 lbs. Pinkney caught 20 passes for 233 yards, and two touchdowns. Like I said, we wouldn't be Gronkowski in the passing game, but he can be a younger way cheaper version of Dwayne Allen.
"He has good overall athleticism for the position. He also shows the footballs IQ to align in multiple places over the course of a game. In the run game, he is a willing blacker and shows instances of being a finisher. He does a good job of holding the point of attack as a blocker in the run game. He also shows the ability to run after the catch. He shows good release off the line of scrimmage when aligned inline. He also shows sufficient hands in the passing game. He shows good toughness to catch a seam over the middle when contact is imminent. He also projects as a 4 phase special teamer." - The Draft Network
Van Jefferson, WR, FLORIDA - 97th overall pick
The Patriots need a wide receiver, and luckily the draft is so deep, Belichick doesn't have to use his first round draft pick to get Brady an offense weapon.
Jefferson is 6'2 and weighs 197 lbs. In 2019 49 passes for 657 yards and six touchdowns.
"Wicked route runner for the college level. Works release moves with intentionality and has every tool in the toolbox, to a level that many NFL players have not yet reached in their careers. Reads leverage and creates advantageous angles with ease and calmness -- is always one step ahead and knows how to throw different pitches throughout a game against the same opponent. Delightfully quick feet with good hip sink and solid change of direction ability make his releases NFL-caliber when athletic opponents improve. Does well to maintain leverage after building his route and will catch away from his frame to protect the football from opponents -- just great technique through and through. Gets after it as a blocker and will initiate, engage, and sustain contact." - The Draft Network
Ezra Cleveland, G, BOISE STATE - 99th overall pick
The Patriots are going to lose Joe Thuney to free agency this season. The Patriots have a lot of options in the draft because they could draft a guard or a tackle. Belichick has with Isaiah Wynn who can play both tackle and guard, but for the purpose of this draft, I chose a guard.
Cleveland is 6'6 and weighs 310 lbs. Still considered a little light, the Draft Network points out Cleveland could easily add some weight.
"Cleveland has an athletic frame that looks like it could feasibly add some extra mass on his frame if it were deemed necessary. His first step quickness and lateral mobility are quite clear and provide him all of the foundation he needs to be an effective blocker in space -- whether that comes in pass protection in isolation (vertical sets) or as a puller/outside zone blocker on the boundary. Plenty of reach in his natural frame and when he's clamped onto the breastplate of defenders he shows ability to keep control, even at the far reaches of his extension. I like his foundation as a pass blocker, he's able to get notable ground on his drive to protect against wide angled rushers or speed up the field. Cleveland takes clean angles when uncovered onto the second level as a climber to pick off linebackers in the run game." - The Draft Network
Jordyn Brooks, LB, TEXAS TECH - 122nd overall pick
"Jordyn Brooks projects as a sub-package defender at the NFL level. Working Brooks into a 3-down role is likely to require him to play the WILL, where his range and short area quickness can be amplified without tasking him to address blockers with consistency. Brooks' game is predicated around playing in space and being slippery to attack the LOS — his best value comes as a QB spy or blitz player. He's a fairly visual defender, so giving him free roaming reps is a must for best results." - The Draft Network
Rodrigo Blankenship, K, GEORGIA - 195th overall pick
Solid kicker. Went 46/46 on extra points and 27/33 on field goals. He's the only kicker that I would want Belichick to replace Stephen Gostkowski with.
Patrick Nelson, S, SMU - 204th overall pick
"Patrick Nelson is not the prototypical hybrid defender. He plays multiple positions that have minimal similarities. And yet, he’s been highly productive, and a star on the SMU defense. His size and athletic ability are solid but present a blend that doesn’t lead one to believe he’ll be a star. He’s a versatile chess piece, but how he succeeds in the NFL will be up to how well he can rely on his instincts and processing, while also finding a defensive coordinator that can best utilize his abilities. He may never be a Pro Bowl player, but he could be a player every team would love to have. I currently grade SMU linebacker Patrick Nelson as an early Day 3 prospect, with future starter potential." - Matthew Valdovinos, Pro Football Network
Keandre Jones, LB, MARYLAND - 212th overall pick
"Jones was stuck in the numbers game as a Buckeye. He was backup to Malik Harrison and now NFL linebacker Jerome Baker. With Jones' transfer to Maryland, he was finally able to be a starter and to showcase his talent. This season, he leads the Terps in tackles-for-loss (12) and sacks (seven). As a senior, the 6-foot-3 220-pound linebacker has been the most consistent Terp on their defense. With two more games to go, he has a good chance at increasing his already impressive statistics." - Andrew Kwong, Maven Sports
Robert Windsor, DL, PENN STATE - 213th overall pick
"Plays with great effort on every snap, consistently finding himself around the football. Flashes interior pass rushing upside with hand technique and a relentless motor. Finds success shooting and powering through gaps to create disruption." - The Draft Network
Kendrick Rodgers, WR, TEXAS A&M - 230th overall pick
"When the game was on the line, Rogers was the go-to player for the A&M passing offense. His lean and long frame makes his catch radius absurdly wide, and his caching ability allows him to make the most of it. Has good speed for a bigger wide receiver. He is also extremely flexible. Great ball skills when getting vertical." - The Draft Network
Terrance Steele, OT, TEXAS TECH - 235th overall pick
"Terence brings good size and length to the perimeter of the Tech offense. In the run game he has instances of sufficiently holding the point of attack. At this stage his ability as a pass protector is ahead of his run blocking ability. In the passing game, he is average overall but shows some flashes of good reps. He has ideal length for the perimeter. He does a good job competing to recover when he's been beaten inside. This is a RT only who lacks schematic versatility, positional flexibility and good overall technique to maximize his physical traits." - The Draft Network
Mitchell Wilcox, TE, SOUTH FLORIDA - 241st overall pick
"It is hard not to like Mitchell Wilcox's versatility when you appraise USF tape -- they use him flexed out in the slot often and he's moved around offensive backfields to provide multiple looks and create clean releases into his routes. He has a notable presence in the middle of the field and he does have a knack for slipping into the blind spot of defenders on the second level, often uncovering in the soft middle of the D. He's athletic enough -- not an elite stress defender but he's got mobility to effectively develop as a potential pass catching target." - The Draft Network