The 2019 NFL draft is only nine hours away, which means that now is the time for the last mock drafts to get published. Among the analysts to do so — on a related note: look for colleague Michael McDermott’s scenario to go online this afternoon — is ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr, who unveiled his final mock earlier today. For the New England Patriots, who will pick at #32, it presents a change compared to Kiper’s previous attempts at predicting the draft.
While the veteran draft guru addressed the offensive side of the ball in his last few mocks, he went to the defense in his latest and has the Patriots bolster their pass rush:
Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson
What are the chances that New England keeps this pick? Bill Belichick & Co.have six selections the first two days. Ferrell is the best edge rusher available, but there’s also a thought inside the league that he could play defensive tackle. We know Belichick likes versatile defenders
One of the best edge defenders in this year’s draft class, Clelin Ferrell would be a day one starter in New England and form the core of the team’s positional rotation together with Michael Bennett, Deatrich Wise Jr. and John Simon. As such, the soon-to-be 22-year-old would see extensive playing time in year one and help the Patriots fill the void created by the departure of standout defender Trey Flowers.
The comparisons with Flowers go beyond the fact that they play the same position, however: like the ex-Patriot, Ferrell projects to be a versatile playmaker at the next level capable of lining up in multiple techniques across the defensive line. He also is as technically sound as any edge rusher to enter the draft in 2019, and has outstanding hand usage as well as a wide variety of pass-rushing moves.
Not everything about the Clemson product stands out, though, which is why he could very well be available when the Patriots pick at #32: his burst and follow-up steps are limited and could hinder him against athletically superior players at the next level. But despite being somewhat of a boom-or-bust product, Ferrell would be a tremendous pick for New England at the end of the first round given his upside and ability to become an impact player right away.