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Monday Morning Mock Draft: Todd McShay projects the Patriots to address their linebacker position in Round One

Related: Monday Morning Mock Draft: Patriots trade up to pick Trey Lance

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Purdue v Penn State Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

With free agency only two weeks away, the entire NFL is fully in offseason mode and preparing to gear up for the 2021 season. How the New England Patriots will do that coming off a 7-9 campaign that saw them miss the playoffs for the first time in 12 years remains to be seen, but we do know that the offseason will be a pivotal one for the franchise — both when it comes to free agency and the draft.

The Patriots have numerous directions they could go in the first round in late April, but let’s now take a closer look at how the experts are predicting they will invest the 15th overall selection. Welcome to the new installment of Pats Pulpit’s Monday Morning Mock Draft.

Todd McShay, ESPN: LB Micah Parsons, Penn State

I’m watching for the Patriots to add a quarterback via free agency or trade this offseason — maybe Jimmy Garoppolo — and potentially take a close look at the Day 2 options at the position. But with the top five off the board, another need matches up with some great value in the form of Parsons. The Penn State do-it-all linebacker opted out in 2020, but he can make plays in coverage, shoot gaps as a run-stopper, chase down ball carriers and even get home on the QB as a pass-rusher. I love his game.

Even though Dont’a Hightower is expected to return to the Patriots after his Coronavirus opt-out in 2020, the team needs to upgrade its linebacker group around the veteran. While bringing back free agent Kyle Van Noy could be an option, the cheapest solution that also addresses the long-term needs at the position is selecting a ‘backer via the draft. Micah Parsons would be a perfect player to do just that given his versatility and impressive upside.

AJ Schulte, Pro Football Network: LB Micah Parsons, Penn State

Micah Parsons is the epitome of a Patriots linebacker. He fits that mold of hybrid EDGE/off-ball linebacker they have used well for years. Parsons would be an immediate explosive playmaker to that front-seven that seemed to be lacking from the Patriots’ defense last year. He was handmade for Bill Belichick.

As both Todd McShay and AJ Schulte note, Parsons can do it all and as such appears to be a natural fit for New England’s hybrid defense. He would not have to be the number one linebacker right away with Hightower still in the fold, but could learn behind the future Patriots Hall of Famer to one day take over the reins at the position and lead the linebacker corps for years to come. That said, he also projects to be a Day One impact player on a defense in need of such.

To find out more about Parsons, please check out his entry in our Patriots Draft Guide.

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

Jordan Reid, The Draft Network: QB Mac Jones, Alabama

Even though he helped himself tremendously throughout the 2020 season, Jones’ stock has seemed to steadily climb since the conclusion of the Senior Bowl. Passing the test of being in unfamiliar surroundings left a lasting impression on many as he showed accuracy and comfort in many areas. If the team wants to move on from Cam Newton and revert back to a similar playing style that they have won with in the past, Jones could be an option to their liking.

A lot has been said about Mac Jones and his fit in New England already. While his upside may not be on the same level as that of other quarterbacks previously linked to the Patriots through mock drafts — BYU’s Zach Wilson and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance — his experienced playing under long-time Bill Belichick associate Nick Saban makes him a popular target for the team.

To find out more about Jones, please check out his entry in our Patriots Draft Guide.

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

Chad Reuter, NFL.com: DE Kwity Paye, Michigan

The Patriots look to get younger on defense after ranking in the lower-third of the league in sacks. Paye is an every-down player who has the strength and athleticism to handle his responsibilities in multiple fronts.

Trades are increasingly popular in the mock drafting world, and Chad Reuter has New England move down the board. While the Washington Football Team grabs wide receiver Jaylen Waddle at No. 15, the Patriots pick up the 19th overall selection as well as a third-rounder in 2022. The team then proceeds to add one of the highest-ceiling players in this year’s draft: Michigan edge rusher Kwity Paye, who would team up with fellow ex-Wolverines Chase Winovich and Josh Uche to suddenly give New England a highly disruptive set of outside linebackers.

To find out more about Paye, please check out his entry in our Patriots Draft Guide.

Poll

How would you grade the selection of DE Kwity Paye at No. 19?

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    A
    (69 votes)
  • 38%
    B
    (106 votes)
  • 29%
    C
    (80 votes)
  • 4%
    D
    (12 votes)
  • 2%
    F
    (6 votes)
273 votes total Vote Now

Chris Trapasso, CBS: DE Jaelan Phillips, Miami

After sliding back to get a few day two selections, the Patriots address their anemic pass rush with Phillips, a former No. 1 recruit in the nation.

Another trade comes courtesy of CBS Sports’ Chris Trapasso. The Patriots again slide down the board — this time in a move with the Tennessee Titans that results in New England picking up “a few” selections on Day Two in the process as well as edge defender Jaelan Phillips. A former five-star recruit, who struggled with injuries at UCLA before transferring to Miami and becoming a playmakers. Phillips still has room for improvement, but his athletic floor make him a possible option for the Patriots should they decide to move back to the late first round.

Poll

How would you grade the selection of DE Jaelan Phillips at No. 22?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    A
    (16 votes)
  • 38%
    B
    (91 votes)
  • 34%
    C
    (82 votes)
  • 13%
    D
    (31 votes)
  • 7%
    F
    (17 votes)
237 votes total Vote Now

Eric Eager and George Chahrouri, Pro Football Focus: Trade for Tua Tagovailoa

Houston trades the rights to Tua Tagovailoa for New England’s first-rounder, as the Patriots trade out of the first round for the second straight year.

Finally, a look at another trade; this one was drawn up by the folks over at Pro Football Focus. First, the Miami Dolphins acquired Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson in a blockbuster trade that also involved current Dolphins starter Tua Tagovailoa. Later, Tagovailoa was sent from Houston to New England in return for the 15th overall selection. The trade is pretty straight forward from the Patriots’ perspective, and while one has to wonder how the team values No. 15 compared to a promising but somewhat shaky quarterback entering his second season, it cannot be denied that Tagovailoa has some intriguing tools to work with.

Poll

How would you grade trading No. 15 for Tua Tagovailoa?

This poll is closed

  • 23%
    A
    (64 votes)
  • 21%
    B
    (58 votes)
  • 17%
    C
    (48 votes)
  • 15%
    D
    (41 votes)
  • 22%
    F
    (62 votes)
273 votes total Vote Now