A week removed from the first installment of my seven-round New England Patriots mock draft, the Patriots start their 2021 draft with fireworks to land their quarterback of the future as well as moving arguably their best player out of town for more draft capital.
It is no secret that New England is in one of the toughest positions in the NFL after going 7-9 and sitting in the middle of the first round with no real shot at the draft’s top four, or maybe even five, quarterbacks. However, with a boatload of cap space to rebuild the team, the Patriots get aggressive and move up to get their guy while also continuing to add depth and youth at several key spots elsewhere.
- Patriots trade Stephon Gilmore and 6-199 to the Arizona Cardinals for 2-49
- Patriots trade 1-15, 2-46, and a 2022 first-rounder to the Cincinnati Bengals for 1-5, and 6-192
- Patriots trade 3-96 and 4-145 to the Philadelphia Eagles for 3-70
- Patriots trade 4-120 and 5-159 to the Atlanta Falcons for 4-108
1st round, 5th overall (via trade with CIN): QB Zach Wilson
I can already see the comments; “No way the Bengals would ever accept this! It’s too unrealistic!” Hold the phone for one second, please.
Everyone has this belief that it costs a ridiculous price to move up and get into the top-10. In reality, however, it doesn’t (if you ultimately find “the guy” that is):
Price tag to get into the Top Ten per the last three drafts:— Ryan Spagnoli (@Ryan_Spags) February 19, 2021
2017: KC trades #27, #91 & 2018 first to BUF for #10
2018: BUF trades #12, #53 & #56 to TB for #7
2018: ARI trades #15, #79 & #152 to OAK for #10
2019: PIT trades #20, #52 & 2019 third to DEN #10#Patriots #NFLDraft
Remember when there were reports of Bill Belichick preparing for an “uncharacteristically aggressive” offseason? Well, wouldn’t this fit that narrative? Moving into the top-5 will be more expensive than targeting the 10th overall pick, for example, but the Patriots have the combination of capital and need to pull such a trade off.
We are so used to seeing the team trade back or out of Round One to pick up more capital on Days Two and Three of the draft, but with a generational talent sitting here at No. 5, the Patriots jump at their guy — at least for our mock drafting purposes here.
Now, a lot has to go the Patriots' way in order to even have Wilson or even Justin Fields available as a trade-up target. With the Jets still holding their cards on their plans with Sam Darnold and four quarterbacks going within the first four picks never before having happened in draft history, there is a good chance one of Wilson, Fields, and/or Trey Lance will be available when the Bengals are on the clock fifth overall.
In this instance, the Patriots swing the bat and go all-in to get their quarterback of the future. Wilson is a human highlight reel that displays elite arm talent and can make any throw on the field from any platform. He has the ability to make plays from outside the pocket and to bring energy and swagger to the New England quarterback position for the next decade.
Sweet Mother of Divine this Zach Wilson throw is NSFW pic.twitter.com/lpvhOcq882— Brad Kelly (@BradKelly17) December 8, 2020
2nd round, 49th overall (via trade with ARZ): LB Jabril Cox, LSU
Without a first- or second-round pick after the trade with the Bengals, the Patriots move on from former NFL Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore in return for a top-50 pick. With just one year left on his contract and despite a dead cap number of $8.9 million, New England elects against extending Gilmore and instead ships him off to a Cardinals team reportedly prepared to release number one cornerback Patrick Peterson next month.
A year removed from spending top-100 picks on Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings, the Patriots then add another versatile front seven defender in the form of linebacker Jabril Cox.
Cox, a North Dakota State transfer, is arguably the best coverage linebacker in this year’s draft class. He popped all over his LSU tape running down tight ends, backs, and wideouts and brings size and speed to a defense that is still looking to add athleticism and versatility to its linebacking room.
#Patriots Draft Target Thread: LB Jabril Cox (LSU) 6’3 233 lbs:— Ryan Spagnoli (@Ryan_Spags) February 15, 2021
• Former NDSU standout before transferring to LSU for senior season.
• Explosive and athletic in the middle of the LSU defense
• One of the best cover LB’s in the draft pic.twitter.com/KXQT5QOkjf
3rd round, 70th overall (via trade with PHI): DB Jevon Holland, Oregon
Due to the Gilmore trade and with J.C. Jackson entering the last year of his contract, the Patriots need to address their secondary again. Holland saw time as a box safety and a nickel cornerback during his two-year career at Oregon and has the potential to be a viable chess piece for a Patriots defense that continues to look for youth and versatility.
A ballhawk who registered 20 interceptions during his career with the Ducks, Holland has the processing skills to succeed right away at the NFL level. He also brings above-average length and athleticism to the table and should succeed at any spot within the Patriots’ secondary. Holland will step right in and provide a nice CB2 next to the team’s new CB1, J.C. Jackson.
Notes from 4 Jevon Holland games are done. Watched Auburn, WSU, USC, ASU.— Zach (All-22 Addict) Gartin (@All22_Addict) November 25, 2020
+Great Spatial Awareness
+Good Ball Skills
+Sticky in Man
+Quick Trigger downfield
+Patient, good Run Defender
+Great in underneath zones
+Block Shedder pic.twitter.com/gz3cDPQJno
4th round, 108th overall (via trade with ATL): TE Tommy Tremble, Notre Dame
A year removed from spending two third-round picks on both Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene, the Patriots continue to swing the bat at the position with Tommy Tremble in the fourth round.
Tremble is simply everything the Patriots look for in their tight ends. He is not just a willing blocker in the run game but also someone who can stretch the field vertically and down the seam in the passing game. At 6-foot-4, 245 pounds, he also brings elite size and speed to the position. Despite just 35 career catches, Tremble showed solid route-running skills and the potential as a big-play threat in the new-look New England passing game.
#Patriots draft target: Notre Dame TE Tommy Tremble. Only had 35 career catches with a similar profile as Dalton Keene. But Tremble's tape is superior.— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) February 23, 2021
These are the routes that talk you into Tremble's receiving upside. Good burst in stem, leans back into defender, snappy post. pic.twitter.com/rjj6FZjJJE
4th round, 139th overall: WR D’Wayne Eskridge, Western Michigan
Eskridge may be one of the fastest wideouts in the draft. A Senior Bowl standout, who is slippery and dangerous with the ball in his hands, he averaged 20 yards per catch over his last two years at Western Michigan.
Coming off a 33-catch campaign with over 700+ yards and 8 touchdowns, Eskridge has elite speed and elusiveness as a ball carrier to be a dangerous weapon at the NFL level both as a receiver and as a kickoff or punt returner. He will be 24 years old at the time of the draft, which may cause a talent like his to slip a bit down draft boards, but Eskridge would bring versatility and speed to a positional group that is desperate for it.
Love watching Dwayne Eskridge out of Western Michigan. At 5-9, 190 lbs, he knows how to get off of physical corners and be a technical route runner. Here, he sells the vertical before stopping on a dime for the hitch. Great separation quickness. pic.twitter.com/s92UY12QhT— Brandon Carwile (@PackerScribe) February 21, 2021
6th round, 192nd overall: EDGE Chauncey Golston, Iowa
The Patriots add another piece to their front seven here with Chauncey Golston out of Iowa. At 6-foot-5, 270 pounds, Golston has the size and explosiveness to play at the NFL level despite being deemed as a Day Three pick.
His best trait is his ability to defend the run from the edge and play from the interior on third downs and obvious passing situations. The Patriots have talent and youth at the edge and outside linebacker positions, but lack a true run defender and someone who can be ferocious in pursuit. Golston provides that here late in the sixth round as a developmental piece.
After reviewing tape, @seniorbowl American player-of-game honors could’ve gone to @HawkeyeFootball DL Chauncey Golston, who has length (6046v, 84 3/8 wing), versatility, & motor to develop into quality starter. @2live57 is getting plenty of buzz in NFL draft meetings right now. pic.twitter.com/IrJsVtAW6z— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) February 23, 2021
6th round, 197th overall: WR Amari Rodgers, Clemson
Every year there is at least one draft prospect that is deemed as your “prototypical Patriot”, and this year it is hard to look any further than Amari Rodgers. A three-year standout at Clemson, Rodgers brings elite speed and YAC-ability to a position that is begging for playmakers after the catch.
Rodgers was the 33rd ranked receiver in college football in 2020 per Pro Football Focus, and showed strong hands and the ability to make catches at all three levels as a receiver. He has the tools to be a competent slot receiver at the NFL level and help add depth to the Patriots’ wide receiver room.
Amari Rodgers out of Clemson is an intriguing mid/late round pick.— Alex Wilson (@AlexWilsonESM) February 22, 2021
Really nice slot receiver who runs like a RB. Multiple in that I think he could have a scat-back influence as well, finished 2020 with 1,020 yards and 7 scores.
Underrated prospect IMO. pic.twitter.com/NWksX8FEvh
7th round, 241st overall: G Tristen Hoge, BYU
After adding several pieces to their offensive line over the last few drafts, the Patriots continue to acquire depth and rotational linemen able to be plugged in and play. With starting left guard Joe Thuney’s future up in the air and former third-round pick Yodny Cajuste facing a make-or-break season, the Patriots add Tristan Hoge in the seventh round — a player who ranked as the 10th best guard in college football last season, according to PFF.
At 6-foot-5, 310 pounds, Hoge offers the size and versatility the Patriots typically look for in their offensive lineman: he has experience at both tackle and guard and could be do-it-all reserve lineman in New England.
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