Patriots’ Draft Day Preview – Part III: Trading Into Top-10
In Part I, which saw the Patriots trade back in the first round to 19th overall via Washington, New England grabbed the following players with their first five picks: - 16th overall: CB Jaycee Horn (SC); 46th overall: WR Elijah Moore (Ole Miss); 51st overall: QB Kellen Mond (A&M); 96th overall: LB Jamin Davis (KT); 122nd overall: T Brady Christensen (BYU).
In Part II, which saw the Pats stay at 15th overall, New England ended up with these first five selections: - 16th overall: CB Jaycee Horn (SC); 46th overall: QB Kellen Mond (A&M); 96th overall: LB Jamin Davis (KT); 120th overall: DT Osa Odighizuwa (UCLA); 122nd overall: T Brady Christensen (BYU).
*You can link to both Part I and Part II above to see the reasoning behind each series of picks.*
Part III -
After months of endless anticipation, the 2021 NFL Draft is here! To celebrate, let’s take one final look at how the Patriots’ draft could go based on a number of different circumstances. For these exercises, we will use Pro Football Focus’s Mock Draft Simulator while controlling only the Patriots. - We will use the same picks for the other 31 teams for each of the four separate mock drafts. -
In this draft, we’re assuming the Pats make a leap up the first round board in search of their QB of the future - Part III: Pats move into the top-10.
Jeff Howe of The Athletic reported on Wednesday that the Patriots had held discussions with the Falcons about the 4th overall pick, and that it likely meant the team had become enamored with Justin Fields. Albert Breer of Monday Morning Quarterback said the Pats have also had “groundwork” talks with Carolina about the 8th overall pick while NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero backed up both claims by saying the Pats were among “a number of teams” calling around about a move into the top-10. Eventually, Bill realizes a leap to 4th overall to be too costly in the long run, and settles for a jump to 8th overall via Carolina. Belichick sends the team’s top-two picks this year, plus a second round pick in 2022, to the Panthers in exchange for the 8th overall pick.
*Trade* - Patriots trade the #15 pick, the #46 pick (2nd round) and a 2022 2nd round pick to Detroit. Detroit trades the #8 pick.
Analyses: No need to look at the big board. This trade was made for one purpose and one purpose only...
“With the 8th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots select: QB Justin Fields, (Ohio State)”
There’s the splash Patriots’ fans have been waiting months to see. New England gets all of Fields’ big arm and his 4.40 40-yard dash speed and can scheme a new offense for the future while the former-Ohio State QB is given some time to soak it up behind Cam Newton. Ultimately, what made Fields the guy worthy of paying the premium for is his much higher ceiling, due to his athletic style of play, compared to Alabama’s Mac Jones who gets left in the green room once again.
Up next - 3rd round - conditional, Pick #96 -
Well...actually, not so fast. 8-to-96 is an awful long time for Bill to wait around without making any picks. I think Bill takes that 96th pick, the one he received after Brady left town last March, and packages it with one of the team’s fourth round picks (#120) along with the team’s fifth round pick (#177) to move up into the middle of the third round.
Based on the NFL Trade Value Chart, those three cards in Bill’s hand earns him a score of 189, which puts him smack in the middle of Las Vegas at 80th overall (190) and Miami at 81st overall (185). Since Vegas also owns the 79th overall pick, let’s say Bill calls them first as they may be more apt to make one pick, then move back for additional quantity. And what do you know? GM Mike Mayock says he'll do just that. Thanks, Mikey. Bill ships those three picks (#96, #120 and #177) to the desert for the 80th overall pick.
*Trade* - Patriots trade the #96 pick, #120 pick and #177 pick to Las Vegas. Las Vegas trades the #80 pick.
Now, let’s see who the new crop is we’re choosing from:
- S Hamseh Nasirildeen (Florida St.); CB Shawn Wade (Ohio State); DT Marvin Wilson (Florida St.); LB Baron Browning (Ohio State); LB Chazz Surratt (UNC); T James Hudson (Cincinnati); HB Trey Sermon (Ohio State).
Analysis: This is a very difficult group to handicap. While some might jump at the chance when they see a cornerback on the board, Wade was burned for 563 yards and seven TD’s a season ago while allowing a 118.4 opposing QB rating. Meanwhile, roaming the middle of the field last year for the Buckeyes’ defense was the uber-athletic Browning. The 6’3”/240lbs Fort Worth, Texas-product moved from inside linebacker to outside linebacker during his senior season in 2020 after featuring in 36 games at the MLB position his first three seasons at OSU. That’s just the kind of versatility Bill likes to search out…
“With the 80th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots select: LB Baron Browning, (Ohio State)”
Why not make it 2-for-2 with Buckeyes taken as the top-2 picks for the Pats? Browning follows Fields to Foxboro and will get a chance to hone his skills as part of a linebacking unit which has depth at both MLB and OLB.
Up next - 4th round, Pick #122 -
On the board - S Jamar Johnson (Indiana); CB Kelvin Joseph (Kentucky); G Kendrick Green (Illinois); CB Tay Gowan (UCF); T - Brady Christensen (BYU); WR Sage Surratt (Wake Forest); EDGE Chris Rumph II (Duke); WR Trevon Grimes (Florida).
Analysis: The Pats have had to do some waiting between picks after trading up to make each of their first two selections. After going 72 slots between their first and second pick, the Pats had to wait around for another 42 names to be called before getting a third chance. While the idea of either Joseph and Gowan is cause for pause, as is the need for receiving help, we have to make it the hat trick here when factoring in Part I and Part II…
“With the 122nd overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots select: T Brady Christensen, (BYU)”
The 6’6” Christensen earned a rating 96.0 during 13 games in his junior season in Provo according to PFF. All told, he played in 38 games and allowed just three sacks over the course of 1,403 pass-block attempts in his three-year collegiate career, good for a 99.8 percent protection rate. The Pats’ O-Line can now deal with multiple injuries and potentially go seven-deep with starter-like production across the board.
Up next - 4th round, Pick #139 -
On the board - S Jamar Johnson (Indiana); CB Kelvin Joseph (Kentucky); G Kendrick Green (Illinois); DT Milton Williams (Louisiana Tech); CB Tay Gowan (UCF); WR Josh Palmer (TEN); DT Bobby Brown III (Texas A&M); CB Benjamin St-Juste (Minnesota).
Analysis: This wait wasn’t as terrible for the Patriot at just 17 spots between picks. And hey, if you’ve been keeping up then you would know this is the deepest into the draft we’ve made it in today’s series. Corner back is the only position to appear on the short list more than once and I don’t think that’s without coincidence. Bill turns his attention back to the position just in case anything should happen to Stephon Gilmore between now and next year’s trade deadline…
“With the 139th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots select: CB Benjamin St-Juste, (Minnesota)”
The reason it came down to St-Juste as the guy is two-fold. 1. St-Juste is 6’3” and ranked the 109th overall prospect in Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline’s big board, compared to #349 for Gowan, who played just one year at the FBS level. 2. Joseph is the 52nd ranked player on Pauline’s big board, so I find it unrealistic and frankly hard to believe he’d still be hanging around at 139th overall. But if he was, conventional wisdom says Joseph would have to be the pick here. Though, who knows what Bill truly thinks. He’s always operating seven steps ahead.
Up next - 6th round, Pick #188 -
On the board - DT Milton Williams (Louisiana Tech); WR Cade Johnson (South Dakota State); CB Tre Brown (Oklahoma); DT Bobby Brown III (Texas A&M); WR Dax Milne (BYU); HB Chris Evans (Michigan); LB Justin Hilliard (Ohio State); CB Rashad Wildgoose (Wisconsin).
Analysis: Another lengthy wait as 38 more picks came off the board before the Patriots’ next turn. Now, am I missing something here? Williams is listed as the 73rd ranked prospect on PFF’s big board and the 49th(?!) ranked prospect on Pauline’s list. So what in the hell is he still doing available at pick #188? I guess the only other travesty here is that, at least for now, the Pats won’t add a player named Wildgoose to their team...
“With the 177th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots select: DT Milton Williams (Louisiana Tech).
As we highlighted in Part II, Bill likes him some nose tackles. With the ratings that Williams has received leading into the draft, he could be a guy challenging Godchaux or Guy on the D-line should one of them see a dip in production. Granted, I still can’t imagine Williams is truly available with this pick. So if not, I don’t know...let’s go with Bobby Brown III and keep the DT theme going.
All told, despite having to go some long periods of time without making a selection, Belichick & Co. still get very good bang for their buck while only taking one crossover from the previous scenarios:
- 8th overall: QB Justin Fields (OSU); 80th overall: LB Baron Browning (OSU); 122nd overall: T Brady Christensen (BYU); 139th overall: CB Benjamin St-Juste (MIN); 177th overall: Milton Williams (Louisiana Tech).