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Monday Morning Mock Draft: Micah Parsons is seen as a realistic first-round option for the Patriots

Related: Patriots Draft Guide: Scouting reports, prospect profiles and more

Penn State v Memphis Photo by Benjamin Solomon/Getty Images

The Super Bowl is already in the rear-view mirror, which means that the entire NFL is now on to the offseason. Coming off a 7-9 campaign that saw them miss the playoffs, that offseason projects to be a pivotal one for the New England Patriots — when it comes to free agency, and as far as the draft is concerned. What they will do in late April, however, is anyone’s guess.

With that said, let’s take a closer look at what the experts are predicting New England will do with the 15th overall selection in the latest installment of Monday Morning Mock Draft.

Dane Brugler, The Athletic: LB Micah Parsons, Penn State

The Patriots are another team that will be running through various quarterback scenarios this offseason, including a possible trade up into the top-10 picks. But if that doesn’t materialize, Parsons would be a logical choice if he is still on the board. As long as the Patriots are comfortable with his character, he would give Bill Belichick a versatile athlete with All-Pro potential.

There is no denying it: the Patriots have to improve their linebacker position in 2021. Even if Dont’a Hightower returns after his Coronavirus opt-out — safety Devin McCourty seems to think he will — the group as a whole would benefit from more high-level talent and playmaking ability. Ja’Whaun Bentley and Terez Hall are serviceable role players, but no starters, while Anfernee Jennings and Josh Uche are still developing in their second year in the league. Parsons would bring less experience to the table and also be in the development stage, but he has the natural abilities to become an impact player on Day One.

Todd McShay, ESPN: LB Micah Parsons, Penn State

No, one of the top five quarterbacks isn’t available, but this isn’t a bad consolation prize for coach Bill Belichick. Parsons — my No. 4 prospect overall — slides to the No. 15 pick here because of unique circumstances following a rush on QBs and wide receivers. Dont’a Hightower will be back after opting out of the 2020 season and Chase Winovich has been disruptive off the edge, but Parsons gives Belichick a true sideline-to-sideline linebacker who can do a little bit of everything. And if the team moves on from Hightower after the 2021 season when he is set to be a free agent, Parsons would be the QB of this defense going forward.

As both Dane Brugler and Todd McShay pointed out, Parsons’ talent is impressive and he would instantly upgrade the linebacker position — one that has had its fair share of issues in 2020 — in New England. His explosive athleticism and range are impressive, as is his ability to succeed against both the run and the pass. Parsons is a complete linebacker and as such a candidate to become a long-term cornerstone in the Patriots’ defensive front seven.

Poll

How would you grade the selection of LB Micah Parsons at No. 15?

This poll is closed

  • 64%
    A
    (989 votes)
  • 27%
    B
    (425 votes)
  • 4%
    C
    (75 votes)
  • 1%
    D
    (20 votes)
  • 1%
    F
    (29 votes)
1538 votes total Vote Now

Chad Reuter, NFL.com: CB Jaycee Horn, South Carolina

If the Patriots can’t get the quarterback they want in the first round, they could trade back, add some assets and then probably address their defense. With Jason McCourty a free agent this year, and Stephon Gilmore potentially on the market in 2022, picking up another former Gamecock in Horn makes sense.

While cornerback is one of the deepest positions on the Patriots’ current roster, the future is still uncertain as Chad Reuter points out: Jason McCourty is headed for free agency, with Stephon Gilmore a potential candidate to move on sooner rather than later as well. Add the fact that J.C. Jackson is also headed for restricted free agency this year, and no lock to be back in 2022, and you can see why New England might be prompted to bring a cornerback like Horn — a long and competitive defender capable of developing into a starter on the perimeter — aboard via this year’s draft.

Poll

How would you grade the selection of CB Jaycee Horn at No. 15?

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    A
    (109 votes)
  • 28%
    B
    (397 votes)
  • 32%
    C
    (462 votes)
  • 20%
    D
    (284 votes)
  • 11%
    F
    (163 votes)
1415 votes total Vote Now

Alex Barth, 98.5 The Sports Hub: QB Mac Jones, Alabama

Mac Jones at 25th overall may be a bit of a stretch — especially after his performance at the Senior Bowl — but it’s not as unrealistic as you may think. The quarterback market as a whole will fluctuate wildly as the offseason goes on, which will swing Jones’ stock. [...] As for Jones himself, he seems to be the consensus pick for the Patriots right now. He checks so many of their boxes — from his football IQ to his ball security, to being an Alabama product and Senior Bowl participant.

Alex Barth has the Patriots go with Mac Jones — a popular mock draft pick for the team all offseason — following a trade down with the Jacksonville Jaguars that breaks down as follows:

  • New England gets: 1-25, 2-47, 4-106
  • Jacksonville gets: 1-15, 3-96, 6-196, 2022 fourth-round pick

The Patriots moving down 10 spots might be a gamble if they want to end up with Jones, but the added capital plus the fact that he might still be available would make this trade a worthwhile one from New England’s perspective. As for Jones, plenty has been said about how he would fit the team despite not necessarily being a “wow” prospects like other quarterbacks projected to come off the board earlier in Round One.

Poll

How would you grade the selection of QB Mac Jones at No. 15?

This poll is closed

  • 27%
    A
    (538 votes)
  • 33%
    B
    (640 votes)
  • 24%
    C
    (463 votes)
  • 8%
    D
    (157 votes)
  • 6%
    F
    (125 votes)
1923 votes total Vote Now

Kent Swanson, Arrowhead Pride: WR DeVonta Smith, Alabama

DeVonta Smith falling all the way to 15? Historically, the bigger-bodied, athletic receivers are the ones that go early. Smaller guys have to wait. Smith looked unprecedentedly small in Mobile, but his talent is undeniable. He still goes in the first half of round one.

DeVonta Smith will be drafted in the first round in April, but opinions vary as to where the reigning Heisman Trophy winner will end up. The Patriots are certainly a realistic landing spot if he slides down the board: they are in dire need of wide receiver help and Smith would instantly make the team’s struggling passing offense a better one. Whoever will serve as New England’s next quarterback will be happy to have a player like him around considering that Smith’s route-running and football IQ are already well developed.

Poll

How would you grade the selection of WR DeVonta Smith at No. 15?

This poll is closed

  • 67%
    A
    (301 votes)
  • 22%
    B
    (100 votes)
  • 5%
    C
    (26 votes)
  • 2%
    D
    (10 votes)
  • 1%
    F
    (6 votes)
443 votes total Vote Now