Patriots Seven Round Mock: Trader Bill Strikes Again
Patrick Queen is one of several prospect the Patriots miss on by trading back in this mock draft. Photo via the Athletic
With the real NFL draft less than a week away, it’s time for a Patriots centric mock draft. I fired up ProFootballFocus’s mock draft simulator, looking to explore how Bill Belichick might look to move around the draft board later this month. This particular run through came with some interesting results, as I made five total trades and wound up making eleven selections, six of them in the first 100 picks. Here’s a run through of how the draft went, stopping to recap each time the Patriots were on the clock.
Pick 23: I feel great about how the board has fallen so far. An earlier than expected second run at receivers (triggered by Jerry Jones and the Cowboys surprising many by taking Baylor’s Denzel Mims at 17) has pushed several of our preferred targets down the board. There is a clear cut top option if we make a pick here: Houston offensive tackle Josh Jones, who has the potential to develop into an upper echelon starting left tackle and is an excellent scheme fit in New England. However, there is plenty of interest in the pick, partly due to the Saints, who are lurking behind us at 24 and a prime candidate to select Utah State QB Jordan Love. While adding Jones is tempting, we would love to address the cavernous gap that currently exists between now and our next selection (87th overall). We feel like we can still get a prospect we like if we move back, while accumulating more picks to fill that void.
TRADE: NE receives: 26, 56. MIA receives: 23, 172
We don’t have to move back far. Miami comes calling, looking to move up and make Jones their long-term left tackle. They are armed with three coveted picks in that 64 pick gap between now and our pick at 87. Wanting to get back into the second round, we include a fifth round pick to make them begrudgingly give us the later of their two second rounders. We feel good about our odds of landing a top linebacker at 26 with all of them still on the board.
PICK 26: Once again the board has played in our favor. Miami takes Jones, New Orleans takes Love and Minnesota springs for Colorado WR Laviska Shenault. We are back on the board with our choice of the top linebackers. Right now Patrick Queen is the top choice, despite his playing style being a bit of an outlier compared to past Belichick linebackers. We will always answer when the phones ring however, and one team does come calling.
TRADE: NE receives 41, 74. CLE receives 26
This is a tough decision. Adding Queen’s dynamic range to the second level of the defense is very tempting, especially after seeing Lamar Jackson up close and personal last season. He’ll be one of the leagues best athletes at his position the second he hits the field.
With that said, in football, two good players will almost always help you more than great one (assuming none are quarterbacks, of course). Dropping back 15 spots will likely lose us our shot at Queen, but there will still be plenty of excellent talent available at 41. That slight drop off is worth it to land an extra pick at 74 overall, right in the middle of what we deem to be a value sweet spot in this draft. We also have plenty of ammo to move up from 41 if we choose to do so. For the record, the Browns select LSU safety Grant Delpit with our former pick.
PICK 41: ANTOINE WINFIELD JR, S, MINNESOTA
Winfield was a playamaker for the Gophers. Jesse Johnson/USA Today Sports
Moving back up doesn’t wind up being necessary, as we land a player we love right here at 41. He may be undersized and he might not be as “twitched up” as some of the other premier safeties of this draft class, but the tape says he was better than any of them on the field last fall. Winfield was a Nagurski award finalist this winter after an absurd redshirt sophomore season that saw him finish with 88 tackles (62 solo), 3 sacks, 7(!) interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) and two forced fumbles, displaying the same playmaking knack that his father did as a three time Pro Bowler for the Bills and Vikings.
On the field, Winfield is versatile and plays with a visible passion that is impossible to mistake. He’s a ball of energy when you put him in the box, where he’ll make his presence felt physically despite his lack of size (5’9”, 203). He’s ferocious as a blitzer, with a knack for creating turnovers. He can match up in man coverage if you need him to. However, his best usage might be at deep safety, where he has predatory instincts to make quarterbacks pay for testing him. His production in college speaks for itself; if the ball is in the air anywhere near him, he’s got a good chance of coming down with it.
No prospect is without faults, but Winfield’s are largely easy to excuse. He’s short, but rocked up for his size; physicality won’t be an issue for him. He’s not an elite athlete, but he’s more than fast enough, especially for a guy with his elite instincts and diagnostic skills. He doesn’t have ideal length, but that rarely hindered him from making plays.
The one legitimate red flag is injuries, as his 2017 and 2018 seasons were each ended prematurely after just four games to injuries. Those injuries were unrelated (hamstring in 17, torn foot ligament in 18) and bring no significant risk of re-injury. Winfield returned to play every game last year, but the history is worth mentioning. His skeptics will ask if he can stay healthy long term playing with his physical style against NFL competition.
With Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung returning for another go at it, Winfield wouldn’t project to a starting role as a rookie. He’d probably eat up some of Duron Harmon’s vacated snaps in passing down subpackages, while also playing a major role on special teams. Winfield had a blocked field goal and a punt return touchdown to his name in college, and his energetic, physical style of play projects seamlessly to kick coverage teams.
Long-term however, Winfield projects to eventually succeed McCourty, not just at free safety but also as one of the leaders of the locker room. Winfield’s reputation precedes him; he’s known as a football junkie who is likely grinding film if he’s not in the gym. Guys with his passion and approach to the game are infectious. He’s exactly the kind of character guy the Patriots gravitate to, and his potential to help carry on the team’s winning culture into a new era further establishes him as the selection here.
PICK 56: JORDAN ELLIOT, DT, MISSOURI
Elliot was a disruptive menace at Mizzou. Don Shrubshell/Columbus Tribune
With the second rounder we picked up from our initial trade down with Miami, Bill Belichick grabs a versatile defensive lineman to add to his front seven. We would have been open to trading down had the right opportunity arose, but without a willing partner we go BPA and pick up Elliot.
At 6’4” and 315 pounds, Elliot has a unique body type and style of play that could intrigue the Patriots. He’s tall enough for his 315 pounds to be stretched onto a somewhat lean physique for a defensive tackle. He’s not built like a nose tackle and he shouldn’t be asked to anchor against too many double teams. However, he excels at using his arms to control blockers and gaps, making him an excellent fit for a Belichick defense. Elliot moved all over the Missouri defensive line over his final two seasons, displaying a knack for quickly disengaging from blockers and exploding into the backfield to disrupt plays.
It’s been a bit of a quick rise from Elliot, who wasn’t quite on the national radar at this time last year. Elliot initially began his collegiate career at Texas, playing in just six games as a freshman for his home state Longhorns. He sat out the 2017 season per rules after transferring to Missouri, but caught the attention of the program, winning both scout team player of the year and lifter of the year at the program’s year end banquet. Elliot then consistently flashed as a productive reserve in 2018 before exploding to national prominence in 2019, earning second team All America honors for a 44 tackle (8.5 for loss), 2.5 sack season that also featured 3 passes defensed and a blocked kick.
Those stat sheet numbers don’t do justice to his disruptive impact on the game. The plays he makes that don’t make the stat sheet were noticed by ProFootballFocus, who gave him an elite 92.8 grade over the final 25 games of his college career. Elliot is currently 23rd on PFF’s Big Board.
The fit is obvious for Elliot in New England, who prizes both versatility and two-gapping ability from their interior lineman. Elliot would likely immediately contribute in a defensive line rotation with the likes of Lawrence Guy, Beau Allen, Adam Butler and perhaps 2019 draftee Byron Cowart. With quickness and penetration more of a strength than holding his ground against power right now, Elliot could be more of sub rusher as a rookie, earning more early down snaps as his game and playing strength further develops.
PICK 74: JOSH UCHE, LB, MICHIGAN
Uche brings pass rushing juice as a linebacker. Photo via Gannett Co
Moving up was tempting, as we saw several guys we liked leave the board in the 17 picks between 56 and here. Offensive tackle Lucas Niang very well might have been the pick had Detroit not snagged him one pick before at 73. However, we were confident that we would get one of our targets if we stayed pat, and that patience gets rewarded as we cash in the third rounder we got from Cleveland on Michigan’s Uche.
Uche has been a bit of an undervalued prospect during the pre draft process, partly because of disagreement over how to best use him at the next level. At Michigan he didn’t start a game until his senior season, as his path to playing time was blocked by 2019 NFL draft picks Rashan Gary and current Patriot Chase Winovich. He was productive as a reserve, leading the team with 7 sacks in 2018 before topping that with 35 tackles (11.5 for loss) and 8.5 sacks as a starter this fall. He put up those numbers playing almost exclusively as an edge rusher, and faces questions about his ability to hold up on the edge at his listed 6’1” and 245 pounds.
That’s unquestionably too small to play full time on the edge in the NFL. However, its about the perfect size to play linebacker, which is where we plan to move Uche. There is definitely some projection here due to his lack of experience at the position (his ability to read blockers and diagnose plays from the second level is lacking currently) and it might take a year or two for Uche’s conversion from full time edge rusher to hybrid outside linebacker to be completed.
However, if you can get him acclimated to the mental aspects of playing linebacker, look out. Uche has rare physical talent that quickly becomes obvious as you watch him play. He’s a natural, explosive athlete, with closing burst that jumps off the film. His first step as a rusher is nasty quick and his ability to dip and bend around the edge can’t be taught. While he’s inexperienced in coverage, his natural athleticism showed up when tasked with coverage reps at the Senior Bowl, as he ran fluidly with every running back and tight end he faced in man coverage. He has the talent to be an asset both in coverage and as a pass rusher, and his range will be a needed addition to a Patriots linebacking unit that currently lacks speed.
While his rawness at the linebacker position will likely prevent him from seizing a full time role early, Uche’s ability as a pure speed rusher will get him on the field from the get go on obvious passing downs. His speed and athleticism could also make him a core special teams player early on as he gets up to speed at his new position. Long term he projects to a role similar to ones vacated by Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins as a versatile playmaking linebacker who factors into the edge mix, coverage schemes and blitz packages.
TRADE: NE receives 78, ATL receives 87, 195, 213
There are only 12 picks to go until we are on the clock again at 87, but it’s been a long time since the last and only tight end came off the board (Cole Kmet at 42 to Jacksonville). We want to make sure we land our top target at the roster’s weakest spot, so we package two of our four sixth round picks to move up 9 spots and make sure we get our guy.
Troutman brings playmaking potential in addition to quality blocking. Photo via University of Dayton
PICK 78: ADAM TROUTMAN, TE, DAYTON
The Patriots almost never leave themselves so barren at a position that they “need” to fill a void through the draft, but the tight end position this year is an exemption. After striking out in last years draft and this years free agency, they badly need to emerge from this year’s draft with at least one promising addition to a position group that gave them next to nothing last season.
For us, Troutman is that guy. Quite simply, he brings the best all around skill set to the position of this draft class. At 6’5” and 255, he has the prototypical size to handle the physical demands of playing in-line and his athletic testing shows a player with the juice to back up his dominant passing game production at the FCS level.
FCS level competition is probably the biggest reason Troutman is still on the board. He looked like Gronk both as a receiver and blocker against the Duquesne’s and Valparaiso’s of the world, which gives scouts little to no insight as to how he would hold up against NFL level competition. The best glimpse we’ve gotten so far was his time at the Senior Bowl and it was extremely promising, as Troutman delivered several eye opening pancake blocks during the game after flashing his pass catching talent throughout the week in practice. He didn’t just look like a guy who could hang with that jump in competition, he looked like one of the better players out there. He then validated that performance with a good combine numbers, including an eye catching sub 7 second three cone drill.
Like any prospect, Trautman isn’t without flaws. He’s a good but not a spectacular athlete who is unlikely to be a dynamic, mismatch weapon type of player at the next level. He’s also got some technical flaws to clean up, particularly as a route runner, where he’s a bit underdeveloped. And, of course, there’s that steep jump up in competition, which is daunting even before factoring in the historical challenge rookie tight ends face due to the sheer strength of the NFL level edge guys they are suddenly tasked with blocking.
With that said, Trautman has the skillset to do everything the Patriots ask of the position. He’s big enough, strong enough and more than willing enough to develop into a strong blocker on the edge. If he can do that capably right away (we'll see about that) it would shore up a major achilles heel from last year's offense. He’s also athletic enough to stress most linebackers down the seam and knows how to use his pro ready frame to box out smaller safeties from the ball. As a former basketball player, his highlight reels are littered with plays of him going up and high pointing jump balls over smaller defenders, a skillset that should prove useful in the red zone. He's may be unlikely to develop into a perennial Pro Bowler, but he absolutely has the talent to become a very good, reliable starting tight end. At this point in the draft, that would be an excellent value for this pick.
PICK 98: NICK HARRIS, C, WASHINGTON
Harris fits the Pats scheme and fills a need. Elaine Thompson/AP
With Ted Karras gone to Miami, we want to find an experienced option at center in case David Andrew’s health doesn’t cooperate with his expected return to football. With several good options already gone (Cesar Ruiz at 40, Tyler Biadasz at 59, Lloyd Cushenberry at 63, Matt Hennessy at 77), we don’t take any chances and snag the last quality one here.
A three year starter and two time all Pac 12 First Team honoree, Harris’ accomplished college career suggests he shouldn’t still be available this late in the draft. His slide is due to his lack of size and power; at 6’1 and 302 pounds he is small for a pivot and can get overpowered at times by bigger pass rushers. That showed up at times the Senior Bowl, as the one on one pass rush drills were not kind to him. It also completely eliminates him from some teams boards, as those running gap based blocking schemes will seek a bulkier center with more power.
The lack of prototype size will hardly scare the Patriots away, as they have traditionally valued smaller, more athletic interior lineman over bigger, plodding maulers. As you might expect for an undersized player, athleticism is Harris’ calling card. He excels at getting to the second level and picking off linebackers, and is right at home getting out in front and looking for moving targets in the screen game. In the running game, he usually finds a way to position himself between his defender and his gap, fulfilling his assignments consistently despite rarely bulldozing defenders out of way.
That would make him a natural fit in New England. He’d slide right into a utility backup role here, serving as needed depth behind Andrews. His experience at guard (13 starts at right guard as a Sophomore) will be a plus in the coaching staff’s eyes, as he could also factor into the competition for depth roles behind Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason as well.
PICK 100: BRYAN EDWARDS, WR, SOUTH CAROLINA
Talent is no question for the gifted Edwards. Photo via U of SC Athletics
This just makes a lot of sense. The Patriots are coming off of an anemic season on offense, during which a lack of explosive playmakers was painfully clear. This year's draft class has been universally praised for both its top end talent and depth at the receiver position. We've learned over the years to never be surprised by anything Bill Belichick does on draft day, but it would be, well, at least mildly surprising if he didn't address this obvious weakness at some point during draft weekend. We choose to do so here by plucking up Edwards, a traits-based dice roll with some serious playmaking upside.
At 6'3" and 215 pounds, Edwards is a big, physical receiver who was effective from both the outside and the slot for the Gamecocks. Height, weight and speed are three traits that can't be taught and Edwards has all three in spades. His tape has plenty of flashes of physical dominance, both in contested catch situations and as a powerful, explosive ball carrier after the catch. He's got plenty of speed to challenge corners vertically, where his ability to go up and get the ball in contested situations really shines. Many scouts have lamented that Edwards was consistently held back by subpar quarterback play, as there were plenty of missed opportunities for chunk plays downfield on his film due to badly missed throws or reads.
Edwards still managed to put up an impressive career as a four year starter. After debuting with a freshman All American season as a 17 year old, Edwards improved his numbers across the board as a sophomore, earning team offensive MVP honors after posting 64 catches for 793 yards and 5 touchdowns. His numbers declined a little the following season, but he remained productive despite taking somewhat of a backseat to emerging stud and soon to be 49er Deebo Samuel. With Deebo gone to the NFL, the show was his last fall. He had already reached a career high in receptions (71) and was on pace to hit career highs across the board before missing the final two games of his senior season with a knee injury.
That knee injury also kept Edwards out of the Senior Bowl, depriving scouts of a chance to evaluate him. However, Edwards was expected to be healthy enough to compete at the combine, where he would have likely would've tested extremely well and elevated his stock. Unfortunately for Edwards, he broke his foot during his training for the combine. Without any athletic testing numbers and a current injury, Edwards is a prospect who might have gone earlier without the covid 19 pandemic, as team doctors would have a much better grip on his recovery from both the broken foot and his previous knee injury. As things currently are, no one knows for sure how healthy Edwards is, hence him still being on the board despite his obvious upside.
With our team in a bit of a rebuild, we can afford to wait for Edwards to get fully healthy. We can also take the time to develop him, as Edwards won more by simply being bigger and stronger than guys than he did with nuanced route running in college. There are flashes in his tape that show he has the tools to develop in that area, but that part of his game needs a little refining for him to reach his full ceiling.
That ceiling is extremely high, however. This is a guy with the ability to win in a bunch of different ways and areas of the field. Due to quarterback limitations, much of his production came from shorter, possession type routes (slants, hitches, comebacks), where he could use his strength and NFL ready frame to shield off defenders from the ball. He can be a chain mover like that if you want him to, including moving inside as a big slot. He can also be a vertical threat from the outside and has big time upside as a red zone target. He's also a YAC monster who will be a big play threat on screens, end arounds and other quick touches. Oh, and he's a good, physical blocker too. We know Bill won't put you on the field if you don't block at receiver.
For now, we pick him, wait for him to get fully 100% healthy, and whenever that is throw him right into the competition for snaps and targets. As a rookie acclimating to a complex offense, Edwards will probably be more of a complimentary piece, maybe even a borderline gadget guy. Long term, he has the chance to develop into a number one receiver if everything clicks.
TRADE: NE receives 129, 170. BAL receives 125
With no picks left from 125 until 203, we would be foolish to not take the opportunity to trade back and add an extra pick to fill that gap. Moving back four slots to 129 gets us back into the fifth round, basically recouping the pick we traded early as part of our first deal with Miami (we traded 172 then and gain 172 now).
PICK 129: RASHARD LAWRENCE, DT, LSU
Lawrence is a tough, stout gap plugger against the run. Photo via Terrill Weil
We were disapointed to see SMU WR James Prosche go one pick before ours here, as we were hoping we would be able to snag him a little later on in the draft. Utah DT Leki Fotu, Florida WR Van Jefferson and Ohio State WR KJ Hill were a few of the other scheme fits that we missed on while waiting since picking at 100. With all of them gone, we go with Lawrence, a big, physical run stuffer who anchored the middle of the LSU defense.
At 6’2” and 308 pounds, Lawrence is a big bodied defensive tackle whose ability to control blockers with his power and length makes him a nice fit for New England’s two-gapping scheme. Unlike Elliot, Lawrence isn't going to disengage from many blockers and penetrate many gaps. He will, however, play his two gapping assignments well and clog up the middle of the line of scrimmage, a skill set that Belichick has always valued.
Lawrence remains available due to his relative lack of pass rush upside at the next level. He also is somewhat of a medical question mark, as he was frequently nicked up in college, including an offseason knee surgery before his Senior year. What can’t be questioned is his willingness to play through pain, as Lawrence was regarded as a warrior and a leader within the Tigers program.
A former top 20 recruit, Lawrence was productive for all four years in Baton Rouge, earning high marks for not just his play on the field but also his football character. He is, by all accounts, the type of guy who helps build and maintain good football culture in your building. While he'll by no means be a superstar at the next level, he also appears to be a relatively good bet to be a solid early downs contributor in a committee. That’s exactly the role he’d be ask to serve both as a rookie and beyond in New England.
TRADE: NE receives 158. NYJ receive 170, 230
With a standout player for this stage of the draft still on the board, we decide to use some of our remaining draft capital to move up and get our guy. One of our seventh round picks is the cost of moving up 11 spots to make that happen.
Gibson racked up 386 all purpose yards vs SMU. Frank Ramirez/Daily Helmsman
PICK 158: ANTONIO GIBSON, RB/WR, MEMPHIS
Is he a running back? Is he a slot receiver? Can he be anything more than a gadget guy? We aren’t sure, but give him the ball in space and big plays will happen. With our offense still needing a boost of explosiveness, we’ll gladly roll the dice on a player with Gibson's big play potential here.
Gibson has one of the more interesting paths to the draft in this class. He spent the first two years of his college career at East Central Community College, where he predictably racked up all purpose yards and touchdowns. He then transferred to Memphis, where he spent his first year as a change of pace option behind 2019 Cowboys draftee Tony Pollard. He exploded onto scouts radar as a senior, racking up 1,749 all-purpose yards and 13 touchdowns.
Simply put, the man was a walking big play, averaging 19.3 yards per reception, 11.2 yards per rush and 28 yards per kick return. No game better illustrated his game destroying big play ability than SMU, who he tore up for 6 catches, 130 yards and a touchdown, three carries for 97 yards and a touchdown and 3 kick returns for 159 yards and, you guessed it, a touchdown. He capped off his breakthrough season with 117 total yards in Memphis’ Bowl loss to Penn State.
His absurd big play production makes sense when you look at his athletic traits. At 6’0” and 228 pounds, he’s built like a yoked up power running back, but his combine performance showcased his freakish explosiveness for that size, with a 4.39 40 time being the standout number. Guys with his combination of power, speed and balance through contact are rare, and he displays a natural knack for making ball carriers miss in the open field. The eye test and the numbers both overwhelmingly back that up: he broke 33 tackle attempts in his 78 career touches at Memphis.
How to use Gibson once you get him is another question all together. Most of his offensive production came in the passing game, with the bulk of his receiving snaps coming from the slot. However, he’s beyond raw as a route runner. Asking him to line up in the slot and run precise routes based on reading coverages is not playing to his strengths at all.
Many believe his receiving chops could be better utilized as a passing down back at the next level. His explosiveness would be nightmarish for linebackers to keep up with, and his lack of route running technicality will be less of a detriment. He’s also built more like a running back, with his size actually giving some potential as a between the tackles runner if he could be taught the nuances of the position.
The lack of an established position is the only explainable reason for an athlete of this caliber still being available. If you want to make him a receiver, you need to teach him the nuances of route running. If you want to make him a running back, you need to teach him how to read blocks and defenses, as the majority of his 33 career carries came on jet sweeps, reverses and other plays designed to get him running free around the corner. He’s most commonly projected as a passing down back, but he has yet to play a single snap in pass protection (he does have the size and strength to be good there if he can handle the mental aspects).
At this point in the draft, we’re drafting the athlete and figuring the rest out later. We’ll gladly plug him in to our special teams units, where he’ll bring an explosive element thats been missing for years from the return game. He may be just a gadget play guy as a rookie, but could still make a considerable impact from such a role. In an offense lacking explosive athletes and playmakers, he’ll bring some instant juice.
PICK 204: JAMES MORGAN, QB, FIU
Morgan has intriguing developmental traits. Photo via FIU
Coach Belichick’s comments about the depth of this quarterback class caught my attention, as it suggested the team might try to take a later round stab at a developmental option. We were planning to address kicker here but couldn’t turn down Morgan here, as he represents one of our favorites in the class after the second tier of Jake Fromm and Jalen Hurts.
Morgan is getting drafted based on the projected development of his natural tools. At 6’4” and 229 pounds, he’s got the desired size to hang in the pocket and pro level arm talent. He can deliver strikes to all areas of the field and his tape features plenty of intriguing examples of throwing with anticipation. Morgan also displayed solid pocket presence (he’s not a special athlete but he has escapability in the pocket) and a willingness to stand in and take a shot against pressure. That combination of traits is rarely available this late in a draft, and the Patriots are thrilled to land a guy they monitored and met with digitally during the pre draft process.
However, any prospect still on the board in the sixth round has plenty of nits to pick, and Morgan is no exception. There is some coaching up to do with Morgan, who could improve his decision making and speed up his mental processing. Morgan’s trust in his cannon arm occasionally leads him to attempt some ill-advised tight window throws (what else do you expect from a Green Bay native who grew up worshiping Brett Favre?). He also needs to incorporate more touch into his game, as he threw quite a few unnecessary bullets to his receivers in the quick game. Despite his willingness to take hits, he sometimes panics and takes unnecessary sacks when under pressure, another flaw that needs to be cleaned up at the next level.
Morgan also faces some concerns about the level of competition he faced in college. Morgan began his career playing in the MAC with Bowling Green, where he started 12 games as a freshman but struggled through an uneven campaign, throwing 16 touchdowns and 15 picks. That led to competition his sophomore season, as he was benched three games in but later re-entered the lineup for three more inconsistent starts. Following that season, Morgan transferred to FIU and exploded as a junior, completing 65.3 percent of his passes for 2,727 yards, 26 touchdowns and just 7 interceptions. That production dipped his senior year, as he gutted through a knee injury and saw his receivers drop a ridiculous 14.5% of their catchable targets. While the numbers were down across the board (58%, 2,551 yards, 14 TDs, 5 INTs), his PFF passing grades were consistent from his junior year, suggesting the statistical regression was more circumstantial than a significant drop off in play.
With plenty of tools to work with but also plenty of coaching up needed, Morgan is an ideal developmental prospect at this point in the draft. He’d likely be a third stringer as a rookie, as Belichick would likely gravitate towards the experience of Brian Hoyer over the uncertainty of Morgan. However, Morgan has the talent to take sole control over the backup role from Hoyer by this time next year, and he could even be an option for real playing time over the next few years should Jarrett Stidham prove incapable of handling the starting job.
PICK 212: RODRIGO BLANKENSHIP, K, GEORGIA
I’m not going to pretend to you all that I’ve been grinding kicker tape looking for diamonds in the rough. The Patriots don’t currently have a kicker on their roster. That obviously needs to change, and Blankenship is considered by most to be the best in this draft. Tyler Bass is another candidate for this job should Blankenship go earlier in the draft, which is certainly possible.
PICK 241: JOSH METELLUS, S, MICHIGAN
I guess its only fitting that the first draft class of the post Brady era features multiple Michigan Wolverines. We round out our draft class by taking a stab at Metellus, a strong safety type coming off of a productive four year career at Ann Arbor. More of a box safety, Mettellus plays with a noticeable toughness and physicality that will appeal to the Patriots. He’s a dog in the box who will come up and lay the lumber, but he also possesses enough short area quickness to play competent man coverage on backs and tight ends. While Metellus was a solid player in college, his lack of ideal deep speed caps his defensive ceiling as a pro. While unlikely to develop into a starter, Metellus could provide competent defensive depth in a pinch while also projecting as a core special teamer. His reputation as a high level football character guy helps to give him the edge over some similarly talented players at this junction of the draft.