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2018 NFL draft: Patriots pick a cornerback in the first SB Nation mock draft after the Super Bowl

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With Malcolm Butler likely to leave the team, this defender might help.

NCAA Football: Auburn at Clemson Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

One of the major stories after Super Bowl LII is the New England Patriots benching starting cornerback Malcolm Butler due to what was reportedly a “perfect storm of issues”. With the impending free agent likely on his way out of Foxboro, the Patriots are in the market for more depth at his position – and the 2018 NFL draft might be one way to add it.

Mocking the Draft's Dan Kadar also thinks so, and has New England pick up a cornerback in his first mock draft since the Patriots' 41-33 loss against the Philadelphia Eagles:

31. New England Patriots: Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn

It’s pretty safe to say Malcolm Butler won’t be back. Fortunately for New England there’s a surplus of first-round cornerbacks in this year’s draft. Hughes would be the preference, but Davis isn’t a bad consolation prize by any stretch.

The 21-year old Davis was a three-year starter at Auburn and was named second-team All American in 2017. Playing in the best defensive conference in all of college football, the 6'1, 205 lbs cornerback registered 29 defended passes and four interceptions over the course of his career. He also added three forced fumbles, 4.5 tackles for loss and a half-sack during his three years as a starting defender.

Davis, who appears to be best suited to play in a man-to-man coverage scheme has proven himself a physical cornerback at the point of attack that also is sound when it comes to tackling in the open field. As such, he would be a nice replacement in case Butler actually leaves New England in a few weeks.

If drafted by the Patriots, Davis would join a cornerback group that has Stephon Gilmore as the clear-cut number one option. The rookie would fight for playing time against Eric Rowe, who had an up-and-down performance in the Super Bowl, as well as fellow Auburn-alum Jonathan Jones and Cyrus Jones – both coming off season-ending injuries.