The New England Patriots’ offseason is being dominated by rumors regarding a breakup between the organization and starting quarterback Mac Jones. A potential relationship rift between Jones and Bill Belichick is leading to widespread speculation. Ultimately, we expect Jones to remain in New England.
Belichick should focus his attention on surrounding Jones with a better supporting cast instead. Hiring Bill O’Brien as offensive coordinator is an excellent start. The Patriots also have needs at cornerback, wide receiver, offensive tackle, and EDGE, to name a few.
With unrestricted free agency delivering some clarity regarding the Patriots’ remaining needs, here’s what a seven-round mock draft for the Patriots might look like if it happened right now.
Round 1 (No. 14 overall): Devon Witherspoon CB, Illinois
I believe the Patriots will prioritize a cornerback with their first-round selection. They must be better prepared to defend the pass to contend for the AFC East division title alongside the high-octane Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, and (soon-to-be) Aaron Rodgers‘ New York Jets. Jack Jones was a first-year revelation, but more is needed on the boundary.
Witherspoon is a Belichick guy through and through. Witherspoon is experienced in both man and zone coverage concepts. His game features exceptional ball skills, and he loves to come downhill and tackle.
Round 2 (No. 46 overall): Matthew Bergeron OT, Syracuse
I’m personally not comfortable with the state of New England’s right tackle position and Belichick shouldn’t be either. Conor McDermott delivered league-average play at best in 2022, and free-agent signing Riley Reiff has little remaining in the tank.
Bergeron is an elite athlete with excellent range in the run game. In pass protection, Bergeron’s quick feet help him mirror opposing rushers. Bergeron’s MockDraftable comparisons include Laremy Tunsil and Christian Darrisaw.
Round 3 (No. 76 overall): Xavier Hutchinson WR, Iowa State
The Patriots signed JuJu Smith-Schuster in free agency after seeing Jakobi Meyers reunite with Josh McDaniels in Las Vegas. Smith-Schuster will command the slot position as per usual, and the Patriots could use another boundary receiver to pair with him. Hutchinson, who recorded a program-record 107 receptions in 2022, has X-receiver tendencies.
Round 4 (No. 107 overall): Dylan Horton EDGE, TCU
The Patriots have a depth need at EDGE behind Matthew Judon and the emerging Josh Uche. TCU’s Horton is a jack-of-all-trades that can reduce inside when necessary. Horton’s inside-outside versatility makes him a potential three-down defender moving forward.
Round 4 (No. 117 overall): Noah Sewell LB, Oregon
The Patriots are searching for an athletic linebacker to round out their front seven. Noah Sewell was a stalwart at Oregon with terrific size and above-average athleticism. Sewell’s aggression to trigger downhill with elite play strength makes him a throwback ‘backer. That skill set still appeals to Belichick. Sewell is also versatile enough to be moved around the defensive formation.
Round 4 (No. 135 overall): Bryce Baringer P, Michigan State
I wouldn’t put it past Belichick to utilize a fourth-round selection (the Patriots are equipped with three of them) on a punter. Last year’s starting punter was Jake Bailey, who signed with the Denver Broncos in free agency. The Patriots signed Corliss Waitman, who should be forced to earn the job through a training camp and preseason competition.
Baringer’s career average of 46 yards per punt is a Michigan State all-time record, as was his 49-yard single-season average in 2022.
Round 6 (No. 184 overall): D.J. Dale DT, Alabama
Belichick should add depth to the interior of his defensive line. The likes of Davon Godchaux and Deatrich Wise Jr. could use some help. Belichick has always enjoyed a strong relationship with Alabama head coach Nick Saban, who will vouch for Dale. Dale possesses the first-step explosiveness necessary to attack upfield.
Round 6 (No. 187 overall): Brayden Willis TE, Oklahoma
The Patriots swapped Jonnu Smith for Mike Gesicki (in separate dealings) at tight end this summer. Hunter Henry is a good blocker, but Gesicki offers nothing in-line. New England’s third tight end should be a blocking expert, and Willis is one of the draft’s best blocking tight ends.
Round 6 (No. 192 overall): Deuce Vaughn RB, Kansas State
Rhamondre Stevenson is Belichick’s No. 1 running back after Damien Harris departed in free agency. The Patriots were well-prepared for Harris’ exit, but they may still add competition to the backfield. Vaughn is undersized, but he’s dynamic with the ball in his hands.
Round 6 (No. 210 overall): Jerome Carvin IOL, Tennessee
Carvin departed Tennessee as a 42-game starter. He has extensive experience at both guard positions and center. Carvin could help back up the likes of Cole Strange, David Andrews, and Michael Onwenu. Carvin’s versatility should get him drafted.
Round 7 (No. 245 overall): Jaylon Jones CB, Texas A&M
The Patriots could double down at the cornerback position due to their abundance of picks. Jones isn’t an athletic specimen, but he’s an excellent football player, period. Belichick still appreciates defenders that simply line up and play the position with passion. Jones fits.
DeAndre Hopkins’ Best Fit: Patriots or Titans?
- Jun 09, 2023
Should Vikings Trade Kirk Cousins?
- Jun 09, 2023