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Pat Lane’s seven-round mock draft 1.0: Patriots make a splash before the draft even begins

Related: Ryan Spagnoli’s seven-round mock draft 1.0: New England bolsters front seven, wide receiver position

Cleveland Browns v New York Jets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

After Spags already published his first seven-round mock draft for the New England Patriots last week, I decided to get in on the action as well and make one of my own. Before the actual mock draft begins, however, we have the Patriots make a splash — sending three draft picks to one of their division rivals to acquire some quarterback depth.

Buckle up, folks, we’re starting with some fireworks!

TRADE: Patriots trade 2-46, 4-120, and a 2022 3rd-round pick to New York for QB Sam Darnold

The Patriots are in need of a quarterback, the New York Jets are almost certainly going to draft one second overall. So, the divisional rivals make a deal. Is it crazy to think that the Jets send Darnold to New England? Maybe. But, if the Patriots are willing to overpay a little, then they might be able to make it work.

Now that we know what Carson Wentz was dealt for — a third-round selection this year as well as a conditional second-rounder in 2022 that could turn into a first-round pick if Wentz hits certain playing time thresholds — getting a second, fourth, and third next year seems like a good deal from both teams’ perspective. This would also give the Jets four picks in the top-50, which should allow them to expedite the rebuild under new coach Robert Saleh.

As for Darnold, he will be 24 at the start of the season, with one very cheap contractual season as well as his fifth-year option still coming up. The Patriots will probably not find a better solution for their quarterback problem at the same price. And, if they’re unable to fix Darnold, they end up drafting high and taking a QB next year. To me, it’s well worth the gamble.

So, with that move out of the way, let’s dive straight into the draft*.

*Compensatory picks aren’t released yet but per NFL.com New England is projected to receive picks 3-96, 4-139, and 4-145 as of right now.

TRADE: Patriots trade 1-15 to Tennessee for 1-22 and 2-53

Following the Darnold trade, the Patriots don’t have a selection between the 15th and 96th overall picks anymore. They need to fill in the gap. Trading back makes the most sense, assuming players such as Jaylen Waddle or Micah Parsons are no longer on the board once New England is on the clock in Round One.

TRADE: Patriots trade 1-22 to New Orleans for 1-28 and 2-60

The Patriots move down the board a second time — passing on Alabama QB Mac Jones once again — and, this time, the Saints come up to take him. The Patriots continue to fill in picks in the second round after previously trading theirs away to the Jets.

1st round, 28th overall (via trade with NO): LB Nick Bolton, Missouri

The Patriots are in need of some front seven help, and Bolton is an athletic linebacker who hits hard and plays downhill. He may have his limitations against the pass, but he is aggressive against the run, and is the type of linebacker New England typically loves. He should be an instant starter for the team’s defense this season.

2nd round, 53rd overall (via trade with TEN): WR Rondale Moore, Purdue

The Patriots don’t just need playmakers in their defensive front seven, but also on the offensive side of the ball. Rondale Moore in not a perfect prospect, of course, but he is an explosive player who can inject some excitement into the New England passing attack from Day One on.

TRADE: Patriots trade 2-60 to Cleveland for 4-110 and a 2022 2nd-round pick

New England makes another move by sending the 60th overall selection to Cleveland while picking up a fourth-rounder this year as well as an extra second in 2022. This leaves them with no picks between 2-53 and 3-96, but the value of that second-rounder, combined with the ability to fill another gap between 3-96 and 4-139, is too tempting to pass up.

3rd round, 96th overall: DT Tyler Shelvin, LSU

The Patriots might have to worry about the defensive position this offseason, as both Adam Butler and Lawrence Guy are free agents. So, in walks Tyler Shelvin. At 6-foot-3, 360 pounds, Shelvin is a massive man who can be that true nose tackle a Bill Belichick defense needs. Holding double teams, and keeping the second level clean, is something that the New England defense thrives on, and Shelvin can step in and help with that right away.

4th round, 110th overall (via trade with CLE): OT D’Ante Smith, East Carolina

Smith missed the majority of his final season at ECU with an injury, but impressed at the Senior Bowl. He’s a long, athletic kid that can still add weight to his frame. Smith might not be ready to start right away, but he could be an option as New England’s left tackle of the future if things don’t work out with former first-round selection Isaiah Wynn in the long run.

4th round, 139th overall: WR Shi Smith, South Carolina

The Patriots double-dip at wide receiver at the end of the fourth round. It is very possible that they attack the position in free agency as well, but Smith has too much upside to pass up here. A true slot receiver, he seems to be a good fit with the Patriots. While he is not a super gifted athlete, he knows how to win at the line. With Julian Edelman only getting older and coming off back-to-back injury-riddled seasons, Smith will hopefully be able to grow into that ever important role within the New England offense.

4th round, 145th overall: QB Jamie Newman, Wake Forest/Georgia

The Patriots used a fourth-round pick in their trade for Sam Darnold, and they now use another one on a young quarterback. Why? Because it is the most important position in football, and Newman has some traits — showing some promise that he might be good one day. As he showed at the Senior Bowl, he is a long way from being ready for the league at this point in time and a developmental prospect at best. However, it makes sense to take the chance and have him learn the offense alongside Darnold and Jarrett Stidham.

5th round, 159th overall: CB Israel Mukuamu, South Carolina

It is very possible that the Patriots will have to address cornerback earlier in the draft, if they move on from Stephon Gilmore. I have them keeping him for the purposes of this mock, and so, they take Mukuamu early in the fifth. Mukuamu has great size, at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, and brings decent athletic ability to the table as well. He’s a little bit of a tweener — he’s not necessarily a great outside corner, and he’s not really a safety — but he does bring some positional flexibility to New England. If the Patriots don’t feel like they have gotten enough out of Joejuan Williams, Mukuamu could step in and try to produce in his role.

6th round, 197th overall: RB Javian Hawkins, Louisville

Javian Hawkins is a small but explosive back. He showed some serious flashes at Louisville, even though he is probably too small to carry the ball between the tackles at the next level. He also only caught 21 balls out of the backfield in his college career, so he would need to work on that as well. You’re buying the athlete here, though, and will hope that he can do some electric things on the field at the NFL level.

6th round, 199th overall: WR Josh Palmer, Tennessee

The Patriots go after another wide receiver late in the draft. Palmer really showed out at the Senior Bowl, and that puts him in the New England crosshairs. Is it realistic that they would take three wideouts in the same draft? Probably not, but, I also wouldn’t rule it out: they have taken two players at the same position a few times, and they really need a complete overhaul of their wide receiver room. Plus, it’s the Tom Brady pick, so anything can happen.

7th round, 241st overall: G Tommy Kraemer, Notre Dame

A four-year starter at Notre Dame, Kraemer is a big and physical player on the inside of the offensive line. He does have some medical questions, which has dropped him to likely late-round status, but, if he’s healthy, he could be a rotational player for the Patriots.

There’s a whole lot of offseason left before the draft, and I’m sure things will look different in a while, but this is my first crack at a mock draft for 2021. Let me know what you think in the comments!

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Pat is a host of The Patriot Nation Podcast. Interact with him on Twitter @plane_pats.