The NFL world has officially hit the homestretch of draft season. You’ve heard all about the coverage that we have been doing since January. Weekly podcasts and draft profiles have tried to give you in-depth looks at individual prospects, while Ryan Spagnoli and Keagan Stiefel’s draft spreadsheet has assaulted you guys with information on over 150 different prospects.
In an effort to make all of this info a little more palatable, we have now got something new for you: a New England Patriots-specific big board with 50 players represented across all seven rounds of the draft. Today we continue with Round 2.
For more information about each prospect listed, please make sure to check out this spreadsheet.
1. QB Kellen Mond, Texas A&M
Why the Patriots? As Robert Kraft pointed out earlier this offseason, the Patriots need to find a long-term solution at the quarterback position. They just might not be willing to invest the resources necessary to get one of the top-tier guys on board. Mond represents a solid developmental option on Day 2, though. He has plenty of the tools New England wants its quarterbacks and even proved to be able to play well and win against the best of the best in the SEC. If the club can feel confident that his inconsistencies can be improved at the next level, he might be the man they target with their second-round selection.
2. WR Rondale Moore, Purdue
Why the Patriots? There aren’t many people that would expect Bill Belichick to take a risk at the wide receiver position next weekend, and that’s exactly why we won’t rule it out. Rondale Moore is the most dynamic playmaker in the draft when healthy, after all. Everything that he brought to the table in his three seasons at Purdue is everything that the Patriots’ wide receiver room is currently missing: explosiveness and playmaking ability. If Belichick and the boys are feeling lucky on April 29th, they may go ahead and pull the trigger on Moore.
3. WR Amon-Ra St. Brown, USC
Why the Patriots? The Patriots’ glaring need at quarterback makes it highly unlikely they make another first-round receiver selection at the wide receiver position. They could however wait until Round No. 2 and nab a guy like St. Brown to try and replace some of the slot production they will be losing after Julian Edelman’s retirement. Although Kendrick Bourne and Jakobi Meyers are both expected to spend time in the slot as well this season, St. Brown is built from the same mold as Edelman and provides a better long-term option.
4. DT Daviyon Nixon, Iowa
Why the Patriots? Keagan Stiefel can not say enough about Daviyon Nixon. He is without a doubt the number one defensive tackle on his and Ryan Spagnoli’s big board. Fortunately for smart people (and the Patriots) he will also likely be available on Day 2. An ultra versatile and insanely athletic interior defensive lineman would be a welcome addition to any roster, especially one built by Belichick and Co.
5. LB Baron Browning, Ohio State
Why the Patriots? New England has bolstered its defensive front seven this offseason, but long-term questions about the off-the-ball linebacker position remain. Hightower has crossed the bridge into where the 31-year-olds live, while neither Ja’Whaun Bentley nor Terez Hall appear to be starter-level players despite seeing plenty of action in this capacity last season. Browning would not just raise the talent floor of the group, but also give the Patriots a high-upside player to develop behind the scenes.
6. LB Jabril Cox, LSU
Why the Patriots? New England’s linebacking corps was a mess following Dont’a Hightower’s opt-out last year. Reserve players were forced into starting roles, and rookies — without the benefit of an offseason — had to fill the reserve spots behind them. A Hightower comeback along with the addition of a plug-and-play player such as Cox could help everything fall back into place again.
7. LB Jamin Davis, Kentucky
Why the Patriots? Has anyone made the Jamin Davis/Jamie Collins comparison yet? If not, we’ll start. Much like Collins, Davis is an ultra athletic (9.93 Relative Athletic Score) and versatile linebacker whose early value will come in coverage and blitz-heavy packages. Given the Patriots’ recent addition of Kyle Van Noy and Raekwon McMillan, plus the return of Dont’a Hightower, Davis should be able to ease into his role and eventually take over as the third/fourth head in the rotation — all on his way to becoming an eventual starter.
8. WR Amari Rodgers, Clemson
Why the Patriots? The Patriots have addressed about 90 percent of their possible needs before the draft even started. When it does roll around next week, they will have few left to take care of and they all involve shoring up the future at different positions.
Drafting Rodgers would do just that at the slot wide receiver position. His fluidity and speed translate extremely well into Rodgers’ ability to create separation, specifically on his release at the line of scrimmage. He switches up those releases, meaning he works with quick feet and strong hands to defeat a number of different coverage techniques — something that plays into that is his knowledge of defensive schemes and how to work against them.
9. CB Eric Stokes, Georgia
10. CB Greg Newsome II, Northwestern
Why the Patriots?
We’re going to lump Eric Stokes and Greg Newsome II together as one entry because, after all, the reasoning behind them being on this list is one and the same: both men would be brought into New England to eventually take over the number two cornerback role behind either Stephon Gilmore or J.C. Jackson, whoever the team eventually chooses to re-sign next year.
What makes Stokes and Newsome so special is their ability to play multiple schemes, something that will make them valuable to New England as the team has yet to know who it will be replacing further down the line.