Since the last SB Nation mock draft was published one week ago, the New England Patriots added considerable capital to their draft portfolio: Trading away wide receiver Brandin Cooks to the Los Angeles Rams brought the team a second pick in the first round of the draft. Equipped with selections at #23 and #31, the Patriots are in a position to manipulate the draft board to their liking.
In the latest mock draft by SB Nation's Dan Kadar, however, New England does not opt to do any of that. Instead, the team opts to add its left tackle and possibly starting quarterback of the future:
23. New England Patriots (via Los Angeles Rams): Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
This is a regular pick I’ve been making for the Patriots because it just makes sense. Another person who likes it? The godfather of the draft, Gil Brandt. Here’s what he told Peter King of Sports Illustrated about the pairing:
“(Miller is) Nate Solder, is what he is … 6’8, 310 pounds, unbelievable 10-yard speed which is what you need for a tackle. Needs development. But [offensive line coach] Dante Scarnecchia can develop a guy like that as well as anyone.”
Miller is an intriguing player at offensive tackle due to his elite blend of size and athletic abilities – similar to what the aforementioned Nate Solder brought to the table. At the scouting combine in March, the UCLA product was measured at 6’8, 309 lbs and performed well during workouts, running a 4.95 40-yard dash (third-best among offensive linemen), 7.34 three-cone drill (third-best) and led all linemen with a 10’1 broad jump.
During his three non-redshirt collegiate seasons, Miller appeared in 30 games and by the 2017 season earned the Bruins’ starting left tackle role. Starting all 13 contests during his final collegiate seasons, the California native earned second-team All-Pac 12 honors as a standout blocker in both the running and the passing game. A technically sound and athletically impressive player, Miller would be a very good pickup at #23.
While he still needs to work on his upper-body strength and add some bulk to his frame, Miller brings plenty of upside and nice fundamentals to the table – which makes him exactly the type of player the Patriots and offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia could have an eye on come the first day of the draft.
The Patriots' original pick has the team invest on offense again – this time picking a quarterback that might very well turn out to be Tom Brady's heir:
31. New England Patriots: Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
The lure of getting a quarterback on the cheap for five years could be too tempting for some the teams in the back of the first round. That includes New England. Tom Brady has said he wants to keep playing, to me it’s a year-by-year proposition.
Rudolph is coming off a prolific college career. During his final season with the Cowboys, he completed 65% of his passing attempts for 4,904 yards, 37 touchdowns and only nine interceptions. The Patriots certainly have the ammunition to bring in the 6’4, 235 lbs passer. But would they actually do it in the first round, especially considering that the defense also needs addressing after giving up 41 points in the Super Bowl?
A quarterback might just be worth it – and Rudolph has the physical tools to find success at the next level. However, he would need plenty of work to turn into a starting-caliber player in the NFL: His throwing motion needs to be sharpened, while his vision, accuracy and pocket presence all have to improve. Still, the foundation is in place and New England might be the ideal landing spot for a player like Rudolph.