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Top 50 Big Board: Round 1 draft targets for the New England Patriots

Related: Top 50 Big Board: Round 2 draft targets for the Patriots

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

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 Justin Fields, Ohio State

Why the Patriots? New England’s roster has been created to build around a quarterback like Fields on a rookie contract for the next four to five years with core players now signed long-term. As for Fields, he’s still a project that needs some polishing and development on his game. However, learning and sitting under a guy like Cam Newton, who he has been compared to during the draft process, would allow him to take a redshirt year and truly learn how to be a professional from one of the most respected guys in the league.

Fields is the best dual-threat prospect in the class as well as an accurate thrower to all three levels of the field. A power-five alumni and multi-year starter, he checks all the boxes the Patriots seem to look for to run their new style of offense implemented this past offseason.

2. QB, Trey Lance, North Dakota State

Why the Patriots? Same as Fields, this roster has been built to build around a quarterback like Lance on a rookie contract for the next four to five years with core players now signed long-term. Lance is certainly a project that needs development but given the opportunity to sit behind Cam Newton would allow the Patriots to tap into his potential fully. With a guy whose value comes in his traits, that is an invaluable luxury.

3. CB Jaycee Horn, South Carolina

Why the Patriots? With the uncertainty surrounding both Stephon Gilmore and J.C. Jackson, who both have only one year left on their respective deals, the Patriots may be in the market for a true shutdown corner at the top of the draft.

Horn fits what New England typically is looking for in its cornerbacks. He is long, physical, sticky and plays extremely well in press-man coverages. Horn offers elite ball skills and plays like a big corner, using his length and athleticism to be very disruptive at the catch point. He is also a capable run defender and blitzer, with three career sacks, which could make him appealing to teams above New England in the draft as well.

4. LB Micah Parsons, Penn State

Why the Patriots? Parsons is built like a downhill linebacker and plays like one too, which projects well in how he will fit in the Patriots defense. He is an explosive athlete with good range to the ball against the run, and has the athleticism to run underneath tight ends in coverage. He also provides pass rush ability from the linebacker level, which is something head coach Bill Belichick covets from all his linebackers.

The ability to impact the game as a rusher in addition to being able to drop into coverage would give Belichick the ability to be more creative in passing situations, especially with 2021 potentially being the last year of New England having a historically great secondary.

5. OT Rashawn Slater, Northwestern

Why the Patriots? Rashawn Slater can single-handedly bail the Patriots out of any potential offensive line predicament they might find themselves in next offseason. He has the potential to play all five spots, but the likeliest scenario if he ends up in New England would be him taking over one of the starting tackle spots. This, in turn, would mean the days of Isaiah Wynn or Trent Brown are numbered as they are both set to play on a one-year deal pending if the team picks up Wynn’s fifth-year option in the coming days. Even with a loaded offensive line, the Patriots wouldn’t pass up this much versatility.

6. OT Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech

Why the Patriots? Darrisaw has all the tools you are looking for in an NFL-caliber offensive tackle, and as such could be a realistic target for New England on the first day of the draft. He has shown considerable fluidity out of his stance, as well as the flexibility to keep himself from getting beat around the edge in pass protection. He is able to stay square and shields off well. Darrisaw also has the solid athletic foundation and length to work well in zone blocking schemes.

His balance helps him to stay in control even when moving in tight quarters, while he has shown good control and impressive vision whilst moving in open space. He is an exceptional pull blocker able to diagnose his intended target down the field and also can drive defenders off the ball once engaged in them. Long story short, he would be a tremendous addition if the Patriots want to stay flexible at offensive tackle.

7. WR Rashod Bateman, Minnesota

Why the Patriots? The answer to this question has been and will continue to be based around the fact that New England’s wide receiver room lacks talent. With Julian Edelman gone, the current crop of receivers only gets the tag “receiving corps” because its members can conceivably run routes and catch footballs, not because they have earned a reputation for being solid professional football players.

The argument can be made that there are only two solid pro receivers on the current roster. There is no question whether or not a move at the position should be made, it is how many moves and what resources are going to be used? If the answer to that question is a first-round draft pick, Rashod Bateman — arguably the fourth best wide receive in this class behind Ja’Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith — might be the guy for the Patriots.

8. EDGE Kwity Paye, Michigan

Why the Patriots? New England really has not had a dominant edge player that can also defend the run since Trey Flowers left for the Detroit Lions in 2019. Paye would fill a void New England has, and can play all three downs while being a force in opponents’ backfields.

The one thing Bill Belichick knows about Michigan’s front seven players is that they can come in and contribute right away for his defense. Paye would do just that, and join a Patriots defense that has added Chase Winovich and Josh Uche in the past two drafts — to players who have had success in their early years. Paye would fill a big need for a New England defense that is looking to add youth and athleticism in its front seven.

9. LB Zaven Collins, Tulsa

Why the Patriots? Collins’ skill set is an ideal fit for the Patriots defense. New England doesn’t necessarily prefer linebackers who are good at multiple things versus players who are great at one thing and passable elsewhere. The Tulsa product has the ability to impact the game against the run and pass, both as a rusher and a coverage defender.

10. WR Elijah Moore, Ole Miss

Why the Patriots? Moore is arguably the best slot prospect in the draft, and has the physical makeup to play on the outside as well. New England has already rebuilt its passing game in free agency, and Moore would be another high-upside target to help them this year and beyond.