The 2018 NFL Draft is still three months away and there’s still a Super Bowl to be played, but I’m already hooked on mock drafts for the New England Patriots. Most of the mock drafts have been pretty consistent with the needs for New England, too: cornerback and pass rusher.
Multiple outlets connect the Patriots to Auburn cornerback Carlton Davis and to Colorado cornerback Isaiah Oliver, and USA Today’s DraftWire is no different. In Luke Easterling’s latest four-round mock draft, he mocks Oliver to the Patriots.
32. New England Patriots | Isaiah Oliver | CB | Colorado
If Malcolm Butler goes elsewhere in free agency this offseason, finding his replacement will be the defending champs’ top priority. Oliver may be the most complete corner in a deep class, making him an excellent value pick here.
Oliver makes a ton of sense for New England, especially if Butler departs. Eric Rowe will also be a free agent after the 2018 season and Bill Belichick prefers to have potential replacements on the roster for a full season so they’re not thrown into the deep end as a rookie. Oliver would be allowed to transition into the Patriots starting line-up to play opposite of Stephon Gilmore.
Easterling makes a curious decision not to give the Patriots a quarterback in rounds two or three (the Patriots don’t have a fourth round pick because they must give it to the Philadelphia Eagles as payment for acquiring Eric Rowe), instead giving the Patriots another pass rusher and a safety.
41. New England Patriots (from SF) | Sam Hubbard | EDGE | Ohio State
64. New England Patriots | DeShon Elliott | S | Texas
Easterling isn’t alone in giving the Patriots a pass rusher, as both ESPN draft gurus Todd McShay and Mel Kiper gave the Patriots pass rushers in the first round. I disagree with the need because of the presence and trajectory of Trey Flowers, Deatrich Wise, Adam Butler, and Eric Lee, along with the potential of Derek Rivers, Keionta Davis, and Harvey Langi, but the 6’5, 265 pound Hubbard definitely checks the boxes in what the Patriots look for in the position.
I like the DeShon Elliott pick, too, as the 6’1, 210 pound safety is versatile and could add a playmaking ability to the secondary. Add in that both Patrick Chung (who would be 32 years old) and Jordan Richards would be free agents after the 2018 season and adding another safety makes a lot of sense.
But there’s a notable absence of a quarterback for the Patriots, which is arguably the biggest need on the roster as the heir to Tom Brady. Easterling has a valid reason for the non-selection- Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, and Baker Mayfield go in the top 6; Josh Allen goes 15th; and Mason Rudolph and Lamar Jackson go in the 20s- so if the top six quarterbacks are all off the board before the Patriots’ first pick, there’s no way New England will overdraft a player just for the sake of addressing the position.
I think the best quarterbacks still on the board are Washington State’s Luke Falk and Western Kentucky’s Mike White and both would be reasonable selections for the Patriots to draft with their compensatory fourth round pick (not included in the mock draft).
But this draft represents a “worst case scenario” of sorts for a Patriots team that would be interested in drafting a top tier quarterback.