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Monday Morning Mock Draft: Could Justin Fields drop all the way to the Patriots?

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CFP National Championship Presented by AT&T - Ohio State v Alabama Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

The Super Bowl is in the books, which means that the entire NFL is now on to the offseason. Coming off a 7-9 season 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.

Lance Zierlein, NFL.com: QB Justin Fields, Ohio State

It’s hard to project where the QBs will land this year, as I expect grades to vary greatly by team. But Fields is a talented quarterback with big-game experience who will have a chance to compete for snaps immediately in New England.

Justin Fields is one of the top quarterback prospects in this year’s draft, and as such a realistic candidate to come off the board within the top-five selections. If he drops down the board, however, the Patriots could go after him: they do need a new franchise quarterback after what had been a disappointing year for the team’s passing offense. Fields may not be seen as a Day One starter, but he would certainly compete for the QB1 role over the course of the summer.

Poll

How would you grade the selection of QB Justin Fields at No. 15?

This poll is closed

  • 61%
    A
    (742 votes)
  • 19%
    B
    (235 votes)
  • 10%
    C
    (126 votes)
  • 3%
    D
    (46 votes)
  • 5%
    F
    (63 votes)
1212 votes total Vote Now

Phil Perry, NBC Sports: CB Patrick Surtain II, Alabama

Stephon Gilmore isn’t long for New England. Jason McCourty is set to be a free agent. JC Jackson has one year left before he’s due to hit unrestricted free agency. Surtain checks all the boxes as a man-to-man corner with size, polish (thanks in part to his dad, also his high school coach, who was an All-Pro corner), and tons of experience in Nick Saban’s defensive scheme that’ll have him ready to go in Year 1. Surtain might not be the freaky athlete Farley is, but he’s one of the safest projections in the class. In an offseason lacking in easy evaluations thanks to opt-outs and limited access to prospects, the Patriots will be happy to scoop him up.

Phil Perry’s podcast comes with the premise that the Patriots acquire both quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo from the San Francisco 49ers via trade and acquire a top wide receiver via free agency. But even if those two moves do not materialize, Surtain should be a candidate for New England in the middle of the first round. As pointed out in the excerpt, after all, the Patriots’ future at the position is uncertain as well. Adding a player like Surtain, who has the upside to develop into a viable shutdown cornerback, could stabilize the team’s defensive backfield for years to come.

Poll

How would you grade the selection of CB Patrick Surtain II at No. 15?

This poll is closed

  • 29%
    A
    (264 votes)
  • 36%
    B
    (333 votes)
  • 20%
    C
    (184 votes)
  • 7%
    D
    (71 votes)
  • 5%
    F
    (49 votes)
901 votes total Vote Now

Michael Renner, Pro Football Focus: WR Jaylen Waddle, Alabama

This would be a dream scenario for the wide receiver-needy Patriots. Waddle not only brings some much-needed speed to the table; he’s also someone who can just flat-out get open.

The Patriots’ wide receiver position struggled mightily in 2020, with only Jakobi Meyers providing a consistent level of performance after breaking into the starting lineup. Upgrading the receiving corps should be imperative and Waddle is one of the best wideouts available in this year’s draft: despite dealing with an ankle injury for much of last season, he would offer a dynamic presence for New England regardless if used on the outside or in the slot, and give the next quarterback a true WR1 to work with.

Ben Natan, Bleeding Green Nation: WR Jaylen Waddle, Alabama

The Patriots were extremely lacking on offense last year. Without a viable threat at receiver, the whole passing game stalled and the rest of the team suffered. Jaylen Waddle’s injury history and lack of college production means he is a risk, but his upside is enormous as a big play threat.

From the Patriots’ perspective, the biggest questions about Waddle are not just related to his injury history and lack of production at the collegiate level, but also whether or not they would be willing to invest another first-round draft pick in a wide receiver after already doing so two years ago. That pick — former 32nd overall selection N’Keal Harry — has not worked out so far, which means that New England still has a need. Drafting Waddle would certainly address it, if he would work out better than Harry.

Poll

How would you grade the selection of WR Jaylen Waddle at No. 15?

This poll is closed

  • 58%
    A
    (517 votes)
  • 23%
    B
    (210 votes)
  • 11%
    C
    (104 votes)
  • 3%
    D
    (32 votes)
  • 2%
    F
    (20 votes)
883 votes total Vote Now

Dalton Miller, Pro Football Network: OT Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC

Alijah Vera-Tucker is one of the offensive linemen who has received the tackle-to-guard designation by some in this draft. However, unlike Sewell, Slater, and Darrisaw, Vera-Tucker has consistently seen this designation. With that said, he should absolutely be allowed to play on the outside. His selection means the Patriots can move Michael Onwenu back inside, or they can have them battle it out for the right tackle spot.

The offensive line was arguably the Patriots’ best position group in 2020, but it is facing some turnover with both left guard Joe Thuney and center David Andrews headed towards unrestricted free agency. While it would not be a surprise to see Andrews return, Thuney’s outlook is uncertain and he could very well leave New England on a record-breaking contract with another team. In that case, addressing the O-line becomes a need as well, and Vera-Tucker would help: he could slide into Thuney’s old spot in an instant but also start at tackle in case Michael Onwenu gets moved to his more natural interior spot.

Poll

How would you grade the selection of OT Alijah Vera-Tucker at No. 15?

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    A
    (75 votes)
  • 27%
    B
    (220 votes)
  • 37%
    C
    (300 votes)
  • 16%
    D
    (132 votes)
  • 9%
    F
    (73 votes)
800 votes total Vote Now