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2018 NFL draft: Patriots add a cornerback in SB Nation's last mock draft before free agency starts

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The Patriots add to their defensive backfield.

SEC Championship - Auburn v Georgia Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Tomorrow, the NFL's 2018 free agency period will begin and potentially drastically change the landscape of the league – and by extension the draft boards of its 32 teams. This also means that the business of mock drafting will be heavily impacted and as a result next week's SB Nation mock draft, as usual done by Dan Kadar, might no longer have the New England Patriots select one of the top cornerback prospects.

Unlike the latest draft, which was published on Monday:

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

By adding Danny Shelton, the Patriots no longer need to hope one of the defensive line prospects slides to the back of the first round. Instead, they can take the best available cornerback. Davis can start opposite Gilmore, and give New England a pair of shutdown corners.

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 in college.

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 free agent Malcolm Butler, as expected, leaves New England over the course of the next few days.

If drafted by the Patriots, Davis has the skill-set to take over Butler’s old role as the perimeter cornerback opposite number one Stephon Gilmore or play as an slot option in three-plus cornerback sets. The rookie would fight for playing time against Eric Rowe as well as fellow Auburn-alum Jonathan Jones and Cyrus Jones – both coming off season-ending injuries.