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2017 NFL 1st Round Mock Drafts: Patriots bolstering pass rush, cornerbacks, or running backs

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Draft season is right around the corner!

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The regular season is over and draft season is in full swing for the majority of NFL teams. While New England Patriots fans won’t be looking at the draft for another month, there are mock drafts galore- and they’re worth sharing.

It’s been a long time since we were able to post first round mock drafts- remember the Patriots didn’t have a first round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft for some reason related to the Ideal Gas Law- and I’m giddy for draft season.

Most mock drafts have the Patriots at the bottom few slots in the first round and the they have the Patriots looking at one of three positions: cornerback, pass rusher, or Stanford RB Christian McCaffery.

SB Nation

EDGE Carl Lawson, Auburn

After trading Chandler Jones before last year’s draft, the Patriots were left without a bonafide pass rush star. Lawson could be that player thanks to his athleticism and speed off the edge.

CBS Sports’ Rob Rang

DE DeMarcus Walker, Florida State

“With Jamie Collins traded to Cleveland and Dont'a Hightower, Jabaal Sheard and Chris Long each in the final year of their respective deals, the Patriots will likely be focusing on pass rushers in the 2017 draft. The 6-2, 273 pound Walker tied (with Boston College's Harold Landry) for the national lead with 15 sacks over the regular season, showing more refined pass rush technique than the similarly sized Dominique Easley, the Patriots' first-round pick in 2014.”

CBS Sports’ Dane Brugler

RB Christian McCaffrey, Stanford

“Whether used in the backfield or the slot, McCaffrey gives a versatile Patriots offense more options. His run intelligence and athleticism are a combination New England will appreciate more than some other clubs.”

Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller

EDGE Ryan Anderson, Alabama

“Alabama outside linebacker Anderson was made for New England. He's a thick, strong, fast edge-rusher with experience as a 3-4 player. Anderson is also scheme-flexible enough to be a fit no matter what the Patriots want to do defensively.”

Walter Football

CB Sidney Jones, Washington

“The Patriots have a trio of talented cornerbacks, but two of them (Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan) will be hitting free agency over the next couple of years. I don't anticipate New England letting Butler get away, so Ryan may not stick around. Sidney Jones is one of the top prospects available, so I'm sure the Patriots would jump at the opportunity to select him.”

MMQB’s Emily Kaplan

RB Christian McCaffrey, Stanford

“McCaffrey’s vision is something Bill Belichick covets. Plus, the ex-Stanford running back can contribute as a runner or line up in the slot. With that versatility, this just feels like a very Belichickian pick.”

Sports Illustrated’s Chris Burke

CB Sidney Jones, Washington

“Washington lost in the playoffs to Alabama, but its defense showed what it could do. Jones was one of the key pieces of that unit, a lanky but strong defender outside. Logan Ryan and Malcolm Butler (RFA) could hit free agency this off-season. Drafting a DB like Jones would make it easier to potentially lose one of that duo, or it would add to the depth New England has outside. “

Pro Football Focus’ Steve Palazzolo

TE O.J. Howard, Alabama

Howard will probably be a popular mock draft selection for New England given their love for creating mismatches and superstar TE Rob Gronkowski’s injury issues. Howard brings an all-around game that saw him lead the nation with an 82.2 run-blocking grade while showing the speed to stretch defenses. That versatility is just what the Patriots are looking for at the position and he either pairs with Gronkowski or eventually replaces him in the New England offense.”