The NFL Combine is upon us. It is an exciting time of the offseason where we get to see players affect their draft stock, rising and falling NFL teams’ draft boards. With the Patriots coming off their 6th Super Bowl in less than 20 years, they are turning the page towards free agency and the 2019 Draft. I am most excited for the draft, with the Pats having an astonishing 12 draft picks. The Patriots aren’t necessarily primed to spend big in free agency given that they have only about $15 million to spend. There are a number of transactions that New England can make to free up cap room, however.
Since I could (and eventually will) allocate an entire article dedicated to the Patriots free agency/salary cap moves, I will just go straight into the NFL Draft. As mentioned earlier, the Patriots sit with a casual 12 draft picks – 6 in the top 3 rounds. Patriots haters are loathing at how Bill Belichick and Co. have managed to win yet another title while possessing the tools to gear up for more. Not only that, this year’s draft happens to be deep with players in the positions of need for the Pats.
Whether the Patriots re-sign Trey Flowers or not, they could always add to Bill Belichick’s front seven. At tight end, the Patriots are going to need to draft Rob Gronkowski’s replacement sooner rather than later. And finally, there looks to be a couple of QBs that the Patriots could draft to replace the great Brian Hoyer at backup. The Patriots will be short at wide receiver, and there are some solid players to be had there as well.
Without further ado, here is my first mock draft (without trades) for 2019.
RD 1, Pick 32
Christian Wilkins, DL, Clemson.
Although I would personally prefer the Patriots go TE if Gronk retires, I think the Patriots will be focused on retooling a defensive front that could be losing star defensive end Trey Flowers to free agency, and could very well be losing defensive tackles Malcolm Brown and Danny Shelton. Bill Belichick loves his versatile players, so having Wilkins at 6’4″, 315 lbs who can line up as a defensive tackle and defensive end makes this pick a no brainer.
RD 2, Pick 56
Zach Allen, Edge, Boston College
This is a player I don’t necessarily expect to fall this low, but anything is possible in the NFL Draft. Call this a “hopeful pick”. Allen is one of my favourite players in the draft. He has the size and quickness to get into the backfield as he posted 15 tackles for loss (TFL) and 6.5 sacks last season. What’s more, he can line up nearly anywhere on the defensive line. If Flowers does leave in free agency, consider Allen a perfect replacement for him at this pick. If Flowers stays, Allen will be an excellent player on the opposite side.
RD 2, Pick 64
Kaden Smith, Tight End, Stanford
Gronkowski has been pondering retirement for multiple years now. The Patriots need to address the tight end position before they are left with an overpriced Dwayne Allen as their number one guy on the depth chart. Kaden Smith can catch and has the big body to contribute to the running game as well. He’s not the giant that we’ve become accustomed to in New England sitting at 6’5″ 252 lbs., but he will still be a solid addition to a team lacking tight ends.
Rd 3, Pick 73
Parris Campbell, WR, Ohio State
Teams should be chomping at the bit to get some of the top level talent that this WR class has to offer. With that being said, I still see Campbell as a guy who can fall to the beginning of the 3rd round. The Patriots are short at receiver and need to get younger since their best receiver is 32 years old. The way he was used in Ohio State reminds me a lot of how the Patriots used Brandin Cooks two seasons ago, and Edelman at times this past season. WR screens, end-arounds, etc., Campbell will be a welcomed addition to a soon-to-be bare WR room.
Rd 3, Pick 97
Terrill Hanks, Linebacker, New Mexico State
The Patriots continue to bolster their front seven with Terrill Hanks who reminds me a lot of Kyle Van Noy on the Patriots. Hanks is a little smaller, but they both are effective in defending the run and have the athleticism to get out in pass coverage. I can see Hanks thriving under this coaching staff. I like this pick because I will be attending New Mexico State University in the fall this year, so it’s a little close to home.
Rd 3, Pick 101
Andy Isabella, WR, Massachusetts
A small, shifty receiver who also returns punts? Andy Isabella has Patriots written all over him. Isabella has the breakaway speed to really spread the field. Before the draft, Edelman was the Patriots top WR on the roster. The Patriots continue adding to the offence with Isabella who will be in line to replace Edelman when the time comes. If the Patriots came away with Campbell and Isabella, they would pose real challenges to opposing defences; both are electric.
Rd 4, Pick 134
Brett Rypien, QB, Boise State
The Patriots don’t risk losing out on their QB of the future by reaching for Brett Rypien. Rypien checks all the boxes that Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels should be looking for in Tom Brady’s replacement quarterback. He doesn’t have the strongest arm, but he possesses good decision making and can drive the ball into tight windows when needed. There would be a reason for optimism if the Patriots draft Rypien and let him sit behind Brady for a year or two.
Rd 6, Pick 205
Mike Edwards, S, Kentucky
The Patriots get younger at safety by taking Mike Edwards in the 6th round. I’ve seen Edwards anywhere from a late day 2 player to a day 3 player. Star defensive back Devin McCourty flirted with retirement after the Super Bowl so the need is going to be there in the near future. Edwards never missed a game in his four-year college career. He’s a ballhawk safety who can make plays defending the run as well. If Edwards falls this far, he could wind up being one of the steals of the draft.
Rd 7, Pick 239
William Sweet, Offensive Tackle, North Carolina
With multiple tackles becoming free agents this offseason, the Patriots are going to be short on depth behind expected left tackle Isaiah Wynn. Sweet has the versatility to be a swing tackle, replacing LaAdrian Waddle. He graded higher as a pass protector but was still pretty good at run blocking. This would be a solid pick in the 7th round to let Dante Scarnecchia groom Sweet into an NFL tackle.
Rd 7, Pick 243
Bryce Love, RB, Stanford
This is a low-risk pick with potential to pay dividends for the Patriots as they begin to close out the draft. A year ago, Bryce Love was thought to be the lead back for this draft class. This year, Love had an up-and-down season, cut short by a torn ACL, leading him to fall down everyone’s draft boards. If he heals up and reaches the potential he showed in 2017, he will be an excellent compliment behind Sony Michel and James White with the potential to take over for James White as he ages.
Rd 7, Pick 252
Justin Layne, CB, Michigan State
I close out my inaugural Patriots mock draft by taking Justin Layne with the 252nd pick. Layne is a player who could go on day 2 if he has a solid combine. With the information I have today, the former WR falls to nearly the end of the draft. After converting to a CB from WR, Layne had an outstanding year with 72 tackles, 15 passes defended, and an interception. His size (6’3″ 185 lbs.) is comparable to that of Greedy Williams who is a projected 1st round pick in this draft. In Layne’s short time at cornerback, he demonstrated good instincts and can be a solid 7th round pick.
Let me know what you think!
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