With the blockbuster trade not even... checks watch... 24 hours old, it’s time to turn the focus towards the draft ramifications of the move. The Patriots traded wide receiver Brandin Cooks and their fourth-round pick for the Rams first-round pick (23rd overall) and a sixth-rounder.
The immediate reaction to the trade is in one of three veins of thought: 1.) This was an asset-for-asset trade and the Patriots will be content to pick at 23 and 31. 2.) The Patriots want to package these picks for a QB in the draft. 3.) The Patriots want to package these picks for Odell Beckham. Scenario #3 doesn’t impact the draft in a simulate-able way, so let’s focus on scenarios 1 and 2.
In this article, I am going to run through two mock drafts: one where they move up for a QB, and one where they don’t. We’ll only be doing picks through the first three rounds, as the Patriots don’t have a fourth-round pick and what they do with their sixth- and seventh-round selections is anyone’s guess and more than likely useless.
Let’s get to it, courtesy of Fanspeak.com and their mock draft simulator.
Scenario #1 - No QB Trade-Up
Pick 1.23 - Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
Despite being flagged at the combine with a heart condition that could have potentially impacted his football career, Maurice Hurst was cleared to participate in Michigan’s pro day, indicating there should be no concerns about his future in the NFL. Given teams risk-aversion tendencies, however, Hurst will likely experience a minor fall in the draft, allowing an elite defensive talent to fall to pick 23, filling a major need for the Patriots on the interior of the defensive line. Hurst had 32 tackles for a loss and 13.5 sacks on Michigan’s interior over the past 4 years.
For those with Dominique Easley flashbacks, fear not: Hurst played in 38 of Michigan’s 39 games over the past 3 seasons. With the heart condition determined to be non-threatening, this would be a slam dunk pick at 23 to pair with Malcom Brown and Danny Shelton on the inside.
Pick 1.31 - Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado
Pick your favorite CB projected to be in this range. Insert him here. Don’t be mad at me for picking Oliver over him. CB is a need for New England after the Malcolm Butler saga, and Oliver has the talent and size to play on the outside and grow as the CB2 behind Stephon Gilmore.
Oliver has length (98th percentile wingspan among DB’s) and above average size (6’0”, 201), and still clocked a 4.5 second 40 yard dash at the combine. Again, insert whoever your favorite CB is here, but Oliver would be a second very strong pick in the first round.
Pick 2.11 - Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State
With a gap in QB value, grabbing an athletic freak at tight end to pair with Rob Gronkowski/prepare for life after him when he becomes a movie star makes too much sense. Gesicki totaled 1,242 yards and 14 touchdown’s over the past two seasons as as starter for the Nittany Lions. He won’t provide much at all as a blocker which might turn the Patriots off, but you’re getting an elite athlete at tight end who could be used similarly to Evan Engram from last years draft.
Pick 2.31 - Kyle Lauletta, QB, Richmond
Patriots fans consensus quarterback golden boy, Kyle Lauletta falls to the Patriots' second second round pick. I’m not as high on Lauletta as consensus (see my report here), and this is a bit of a reach to me, but he’s the last interesting QB available and they need to leave the draft with one.
Pick 3.31 - Trade!
Okay, so I cheated a bit. I flipped this pick to the Packers for 4.1 and 4.33, and sent them a 6th as well. I knew the guy would be there at 4.1 and I wanted one more pick to play with.
Pick 4.1 - Shaquem Griffin, LB, UCF
If you don’t love Shaquem Griffin’s story get out of my face. The one-handed linebacker is more than a fun story, however. He is an athletic freak (fastest linebacker 40-time ever), and has the production to back it up (33.5 TFL, 18.5 sacks, three interceptions over three seasons). Griffin would be a chess piece at every level of the defense, someone Bill Belichick would have a ton of fun with.
Pick 4.31 - Alex Cappa, OT, Humboldt State
I’m not going to pretend I know much about Alex Cappa, but I do know the Patriots should be looking for a tackle in this draft and Cappa has some fans in the draft community. I wanted this pick to target a RB, but with my top options taken between 4.1 and 4.31, targeting a tackle was the way to go.
Scenario #2 - QB Trade-Up
The Trade - Patriots send 1.23, 1.31, 2.11, and a future 1st to New York for 1.2
If you want to get a top QB, you’re going to have to trade up. If you want to trade up, especially from the back of the first round, it’s going to cost a lot. Even this deal is probably the low end of what to expect if you want to get into the top 5 for a QB. You could maybe wait it out and see if one of the top QB’s falls to a more reasonable area in terms of cost to move up, but you’re relying on an awful lot of luck for that to happen, and happen when you have at least two division rivals looking to take one early as well. Getting to #2 costs a lot, but to beat the Jets and Bills to a future franchise quarterback is worth it. And this man is worth it.
Pick 1.2 - Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
There are three quarterbacks I like a lot in this class. If I had to stake my reputation to one of them, however, it’s Josh Rosen. The QB out of UCLA has been groomed to be a top pick since high school, and he is certainly deserving of it. In three years at UCLA, the 6’4” passer threw for more than 9,000 yards with 59 touchdowns and 26 interceptions in 30 games. I wrote a full scouting report on Rosen here. Rosen is the real deal, someone who could extend the Patriots reign of dominance by a decade+ easily. He’s worth the cost, and I will be ecstatic if this happens.
Pick 2.31 - Derrick Nnadi, DT, Florida State
Similar to the Maurice Hurst pick from scenario 1, Nnadi provides disruption from the inside the Patriots need moving forward given the contractual status’ of Malcom Brown and Danny Shelton. Nnadi had 12 sacks and 24.5 TFL’s in 44 games for Florida State, including 9.5/20.5 over the past two years. In any draft scenario Nnadi would be a good round two plan if they miss out on Hurst for one reason or another.
Pick 3.31 - Duke Ejiofor, EDGE, Wake Forest
Another body along the defensive line isn’t a necessity this year with Trey Flowers, Deatrich Wise Jr., Adrian Clayborn, and a very very good Derek Rivers coming back from injury, but Ejiofor would be a solid add to help with depth this year and gain a larger impact in the future. Teams can never have too many guys who can rush the passer, and with Clayborn on a one-year deal and Flowers and Wise being guys who can win inside as well, one more body certainly wouldn’t be the worst idea. Ejiofor is also currently recovering from labrum surgery, and while he is expected to be ready for training camp the Patriots would be in a situation to ease him back as needed. With 17.5 sacks and 34 tackles for loss over the past two seasons, Ejiofor would be a nice value pick to end the third round.
Which draft do you prefer? Personally, while the volume of talent being added in the first scenario is incredibly appealing, the idea of getting not just a QB of the future, but the QB of the future sways me to favor scenario #2. You get your dynasty extender in Josh Rosen, and two talented defensive linemen who can provide value in 2018 and beyond.
Let me know which you prefer by voting in the poll below and explaining your reasoning in the comments section! No matter what the Patriots decide to do one thing is certain: day one of the draft is going to be real interesting for the first time in a while for Patriots fans.
Which Draft Scenario do you Prefer?
This poll is closed
Scenario #1 - Plan to win this year and still grab a potential future QB
Scenario #2 - Use this opportunity for a blue chip QB prospect who can extend the dynasty