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ESPN’s Mel Kiper latest 3-round mock draft gives Patriots a quarterback in the first round

New England has a lot of picks in the first three rounds.

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Wake Forest v Duke Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images

ESPN’s Mel Kiper released his latest 3-round mock draft and it’s a great reminder that the New England Patriots have a ridiculous number of early draft picks. It was just two years ago when the Patriots just had a pair of third round picks at the start of the 2017 NFL Draft, which made mock draft season incredibly boring.

Well, now the Patriots have a first rounder, a pair of second rounders, and a trio of third rounders.

“Look at all these picks,” Kiper writes. “No team takes advantage of the compensatory system like the Patriots, who have two third-round comp picks in this draft and will likely get two more in 2020. And they have an extra second-rounder as a result of the Bears moving up for Anthony Miller a year ago.”

Here’s what Kiper has the Patriots doing:

Round 1 (32): Daniel Jones, QB, Duke

The Patriots need to think about drafting the heir to Tom Brady, who is projected to retire in approximately fourteen years. Taking a quarterback in the first round makes sense because of the fifth-year option, but only if the player is worth drafting. Is Jones that player?

Kiper’s mocked Jones to New England in three of his four drafts since the start of the 2019 year, so he clearly thinks the two are a good match. Kiper likes Jones’ “ability to buy time in the pocket and use his feet to get square and make a throw,” which is a good trait to have when playing behind one of the worst offensive lines in college football.

A three-year starter with prototypical size, Jones has a quick release and his coaches love his football IQ. While he’s had to overcome a weak supporting cast, he isn’t the most accurate passer and doesn’t have the strongest arm.

Jones is a fine prospect, but I’m not sure I’d take him in the first over Will Grier or Ryan Finley in the middle rounds. Kiper has Grier going 60th overall and Finley going 71st.

In this mock, the top three tight ends of T.J. Hockensen, Irv Smith, and Noah Fant are off the board. I’d be interested in taking one of the top tackles, like Dalton Risner or Kaleb McGary at 32nd overall.

Round 2 (56): Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame

I love this pick, although I’d be shocked if Tillery were still on the board at this point in the draft. The 6’6, 295 pound interior lineman is a dominant pass rusher with the ability to play in both a 3-4 and a 4-3 front. He’s a perfect fit for what New England likes to accomplish on defense and would provide a solid grouping with Lawrence Guy and Mike Pennel for the next couple of seasons.

There isn’t another player still on Kiper’s board that I would take over Tillery.

Round 2 (64): Miles Boykin, WR, Notre Dame

Boykin turned heads at the combine as one of the best athletes to take the field. The 6’4, 220 pound receiver ran a great 4.42s 40-yard dash and a 6.77s three cone, and added an elite 140” broad jump. He is one of the most athletic receivers in the draft.

So where’s the production? It’s important not to let the athleticism dazzle you if they aren’t able to convert it into production and Boykin is considered highly unpolished as a route runner.

But on the positive side, Boykin shows strong hands and ability to gain first downs (roughly 75% of his receptions were for first downs). Boykin collected 59 receptions for 872 yards and 8 touchdowns this past season, which accounted for 26% of Notre Dame’s receiving yards and 35% of their receiving touchdowns.

For comparison, Kiper has Georgia’s Riley Ridley going 65th and UMass’s Andy Isabella going 69th. Ridley collected just 18% of Georgia’s passing yards and 26% of their passing touchdowns. Isabella grabbed a preposterous 47% and 48% of UMass’s passing yards and passing touchdowns, respectively.

I know which player I’d prefer to take at 64th overall.

Round 3 (73): Lonnie Johnson Jr., CB, Kentucky

I don’t get this pick and I’m super confused as to why so many draft analysts think the Patriots need a cornerback. They have first team All Pro Stephon Gilmore. They have a great veteran in Jason McCourty. They have a promising young player in J.C. Jackson. They invested their 2018 second round pick in Duke Dawson. Restricted free agent Jonathan Jones is a solid cornerback and great special teams player.

Which player isn’t making the roster to add Johnson? I just don’t get it.

Kiper has Washington safety Taylor Rapp going 75th overall. Rapp is a great athlete and could be a good heir to Patrick Chung at the safety position. Why not go for a position that makes sense?

Or go for Iowa State wide receiver Hakeem Butler, with his incredible wingspan, that Kiper current has 84th overall? Butler accounted for 42% and 45% of Iowa State’s receiving yards and touchdowns, respectively.

Round 3 (97): Kahale Warring, TE, San Diego State

Round 3 (101): Jace Sternberger, TE, Texas A&M

The Patriots add a pair of tight ends in the third round and I like it. Kiper had the top three tight ends go off the board in the top 30 selections, and Warring and Sternberger are the fourth and fifth tight ends selected.

The 6’5, 252-pound Warring didn’t play football until his senior year of high school and he’s still developing as a player. He’s a good athlete with a lot of upside, but is a clear project. He’s not a clean blocker or route runner, but all the pieces are there.

The 6’4, 251-pound Sternberger is a less-impressive athlete, but is an elite receiver and route runner. He’s not a great blocker, but there is some promise as he did well enough in a tough SEC.

The pairing would represent a similar usage of mid-round picks as the selection of two interior linemen and pass rushers in 2015 (Shaq Mason and Tre Jackson, and Trey Flowers and Geneo Grissom), as well as in other years: running backs Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley in 2011; wide receivers Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce in 2013; and pass rushers Deatrich Wise and Derek Rivers in 2017.

I expect 2019 to be another year for double dips.

What do you think of Kiper’s mock?


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