Pats draft roundup: Schefter predicts trade up for QB, ESPN experts like OLs and DBs
The NFL draft is under three weeks away, and experts are working around the clock trying to figure out who Bill Belichick and the Pats will select. Knowing Belichick, it's probably a fruitless endeavor--but it's fun to guess! With that in mind, here are some recent predictions from ESPN insiders Adam Schefter, Mel Kiper Jr., and Todd McShay.
Speaking to WEEI recently, Schefter predicted a trade into the top half of the first round for one of the draft's premier quarterbacks. "Look, they have the ammunition now to do what they want. If you package together those four picks in the first two rounds, you could get basically anywhere you want to get. … To answer the initial part of it, yeah, do I think they are taking a quarterback somewhere high? Yeah, I do." It's an interesting take, considering how rarely Bill Belichick has traded up in drafts--he's only moved higher in the first round twice over his entire Patriots tenure.
Meanwhile, other ESPN experts have the Patriots staying put and fixing some roster holes along the offensive line and in the secondary. Mel Kiper Jr. mocked UCLA offensive tackle Kolton Miller at pick #23, while Todd McShay preferred Notre Dame OT Mike McGlinchey at the same spot. Likewise, the pair both predicted defensive backs at the 31st selection (Kiper went with UCF CB Mike Hughes, McShay chose Alabama safety Ronnie Harrison).
However, in the second round the two mocks diverged. Kiper picked Ohio State defensive end/edge rusher Same Hubbard at #43 (ostensibly to give more depth to the pass rush), while McShay preferred stand-up linebacker Jerome Baker, also from Ohio State. At #63, Kiper gave New England Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph, while McShay selected a second Alabama defensive back (cornerback Anthony Averett) in as many rounds.
Overall, Kiper's mock is probably the most realistic. He addressed four different positions of need with the first two picks, all without trading any capital away or doubling down in any one area. While McShay has to score points for mining the Alabama-to-New-England pipeline, he was the only expert of the three not to predict some quarterback in the first two rounds--a move that would be highly unusual considering Tom Brady's current backup is 32-year-old journeyman Brian Hoyer. And while Schefter thinks the Pats will get their QB at any cost, his take seems a little too gung ho for Bill Belichick. If the Patriots see, say, Baker Mayfield or Lamar Jackson on the board after the 15th pick, would they pounce? Probably. But it's tough to imagine New England trading into the top 10 for a marquee signal-caller and passing up a golden opportunity to flesh out some undermanned positions across the roster.