First things first, I hope everyone is staying safe. Whether you are safely quarantined, stuck working essential jobs for less-than-grateful civilians, or trying to establish a link between 5G wireless and the ‘Rona, I hope you are healthy and managing to get by as best you can. Luckily for all of us at the Pulpit — writers and readers alike — we have a real sporting event this week! The 2020 NFL draft kicks off virtual style on Thursday, April 23rd at 8 p.m. on a variety of networks, most accessibly ABC and ESPN. Let’s put our GM hats on and take a stab at how the New England Patriots could (and should) attack the draft.
Yesterday, you saw the strategy that I employed to fill out the big board and mock draft, as well as how I would attack the actual draft and you saw my big board for the first three rounds. Today is the three-round mock draft using the big board I put together. The big board and mock draft were put together using The Draft Network’s excellent Big Board Builder and Mock Draft Simulator tools.
Using the big board we just put together above, this is a potential three-round haul the Patriots could come away while using their available capital to make trades. Let’s take a look at it round by round.
We have a trade! The Indianapolis Colts saw Justin Jefferson still on the board and came up, giving up picks 2-34 (pick No. 2 in the second round) and 3-75 (pick No. 11 in the third round) for 1-23 and 6-195. With Tua Tagovailoa and Xavier McKinney off the board, trading back to pick up ammo and keep tabs on Zack Baun and some of our lower tier options made the most sense.
Big Board players taken: OT Mekhi Becton (1-5 to Miami), QB Tua Tagovailoa (1-6 to L.A. Chargers), DT Javon Kinlaw (1-16 to Atlanta), S Xavier McKinney (1-17 to Dallas), LB Patrick Queen (1-24 to New Orleans), WR Denzel Mims (1-25 to Minnesota), C Cesar Ruiz (1-26 to Miami), WR Jalen Reagor (1-30 to Green Bay), C Lloyd Cushenberry III (1-32 to Kansas City).
We start the round with our trade-down target, Zack Baun, still on the board. We don’t want to play around anymore with the flurry of lower tier Round One targets who came off the board after the trade, so we take him at 1-34 for an A++ grade. We sit tight for the rest of the round, knowing that we have a group of guys we like still on the board. After a three-pick stretch at the end of the round sees Michael Pittman Jr, Cole Kmet, and Adam Trautman come off the board, we don’t want to sit any longer with the Cincinnati Bengals on the board at the top of the third after going quarterback and offensive with their first two picks.
We reach out to Seattle, owners of the 64th pick, and offer the 75th we received from the Colts and the 125th pick, a mid-fourth-rounder received from the Chicago Bears last year, which we feel more comfortable moving now that we have an additional fourth from the Rob Gronkowski trade. They accept, and we move up to get our man in Tee Higgins, someone I value in Round One at the end of Round Two for an A+ grade. The timing proved fortuitous, as the Bengals led off the third round with a wide receiver and the Detroit Lions followed suit two picks later.
Big Board players taken: DE A.J. Epenesa (2-36 to N.Y. Giants), S Grant Delpit (2-39 to Miami), LB Jordyn Brooks (2-41 to Cleveland), S Antoine Winfield Jr. (2-42 to Jacksonville), LB Willie Gay Jr. (2-53 to Philadelphia), DE Joshua Uche (2-59 to Seattle), WR Michael Pittman Jr. (2-60 to Baltimore), TE Cole Kmet (2-61 to Tennessee), TE Adam Trautman (2-62 to Green Bay).
We sit tight to start Round Three, watching our group of quarterback targets stay on the board. Eventually we get close enough to our pick where we feel comfortable that we can get our guy without needing to trade up, and Jacob Eason comes in to compete with Jarrett Stidham to the tune of an A- grade.
Our patience pays off once again, as we are able to double up at wide receiver and take Bryan Edwards at 3-98, an absolute steal at this point. Edwards’ talent as a double-up at the position gives flexibility to move on from Mohamed Sanu and lean into a youth movement at the position, or challenge Jakobi Meyers as the top depth guy year one. A+.
We make one final trade to end Day Two. Knowing we have two tight ends we are comfortable with and a third as a fail-safe, we trade with the Los Angeles Rams and drop a few spots from 3-100 to 3-104, and move up 13 spots in the sixth from 212 to 199 (hmmmmmmmm). Our top guy doesn’t go in the picks in between, so we grab Devin Asiasi to close the mock for an A.
Big Board players taken: WR Chase Claypool (3-67 to Detroit), DE Curtis Weaver (3-68 to N.Y. Jets), QB Jalen Hurts (3-73 to Jacksonville), TE Brycen Hopkins (3-91 to Oakland), OT Matthew Peart (3-93 to Tennessee), OT Saahdiq Charles (3-94 to Green Bay), G Ben Bartch (3-95 to Denver), LB Troy Dye (3-96 to Cleveland), LB Logan Wilson (3-99 to N.Y. Giants)
Big Board players still available for Day Three: QB Anthony Gordon, QB Jake Fromm, WR Van Jefferson, TE Hunter Bryant
Overall, I would be ecstatic if this is how the first two days of the draft unfolded. The Patriots would have filled their biggest remaining need on defense, while infusing youth and talent to their wide receiver and tight end rooms and adding some competition for Jarrett Stidham — getting aggressive with the picks without mortgaging the rest of their draft.
Feel free to follow and reach out to me on twitter @Ryan_Keiran to see my analysis as the draft unfolds and discuss with me. Also leave a comment with who you would like to see the Patriots target in the draft!