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Pat Lane’s 7-round mock draft 1.0: Patriots rebuild their defensive backfield

Related: 5 potential Patriots draft targets to watch at the Senior Bowl

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 18 Western Michigan at Pitt Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Is it too early for a mock draft? Probably. The final two draft positions are not yet set, and the NFL has not yet given out any compensatory picks.

Is that going to stop me from giving you my Mock Draft 1.0? Absolutely not. I’m a man of the people, and if that’s what the people want, so it’s what they’re going to get. Also, the New England Patriots most certainly are not going to be getting a compensatory pick anyway this year after spending a record amount in free agency in 2021.

The draft process is just getting started for most, so a disclaimer that the mock draft machines are going to look very different soon because of the Senior Bowl and Combine, but I just followed what was on there right now. While this might not be the most realistic mock you see this draft season, it will give you a few prospects to keep an eye on, and, let’s be honest, it’s always fun to do mock drafts, no matter how early it is.

Without further ado, let’s get into it!

Round 1, Pick 21: CB Trent McDuffie, Washington

The Patriot have a decision to make about J.C. Jackson this offseason, but regardless of what they decide, they are going to need more help at the cornerback position next year and beyond.

Trent McDuffie is a physical corner who plays hard in the run game, but also is a very good in coverage. He is known for his athleticism and his motor. The Patriots could put him at CB2 right away, and their defense would be much better off with Jalen Mills playing a hybrid role like they intended and Jonathan Jones in the slot.

TRADE: Patriots trade 2-53 to Jacksonville for 2-65 and 3-70

The Patriots have a bunch of holes that they need filled. Although this is the sweet spot for a guy like John Metchie, who I’m in love with but was already taken in this mock, we will trade back and try to select two impact players on Day 2.

Round 3, Pick 65: LB Leo Chenal, Wisconsin:

The Patriots desperately need linebacker help, and Leo Chenal can provide that for them. He is a very interesting prospect because he has a bunch of athleticism, but at 6-foot-2, 250 pounds is also around the size that they typically like from their linebackers. Chenal was an apt blitzer and showed a good ability to shed blocks and make stops in the backfield or at the line of scrimmage.

Round 3, Pick 70: WR Skyy Moore, Western Michigan

Metchie might not be available for the Patriots in this particular mock draft, but Skyy Moore is a very nice consolation prize. Moore is a burner who is expected to run the 40-yard dash in the low 4.4s during the pre-draft process. Add the fact that he’s an able route runner who loves to work from the slot while also having shown the ability to make tough catches, and you get a guy that can come in and make an impact right away.

Round 3, Pick 85: CB Marcus Jones, Houston

Marcus Jones is my draft crush this year. He possesses outrageous athleticism, and has been a standout on special teams, finishing his career with nine return touchdowns. He had five interceptions this year as well, and finished the season with just 10 catches allowed. As you can see, he does everything, and was the winner of the Paul Hornung Award as the most versatile player in the NCAA this season.

Jones would add more athleticism to the Patriots defense, and give their special teams a true weapon in the process. He looks to be more of a slot corner in the NFL, but those don’t grow on trees, and, with the uncertainly in the New England secondary right now, I’m good with throwing as much as I can into it.

Round 4, Pick 123: S Kerby Joseph, Illinois

Devin McCourty is one of the most important players on the Patriots defense, but he isn’t getting any younger. So, how about a free safety who plays the center field to replace him?

Joseph is a bit of a late bloomer, but he finished the year with five picks and showed a knack for being in the right spot at the right time because of his smarts and instincts. While not the most physically gifted guy, the Patriots usually go after smart players at this spot in the draft anyway. Let’s hope Joseph becomes more of Duron Harmon and McCourty, and less of a Jordan Richards.

Round 5, Pick 172: C Alec Lindstrom, Boston College

Lindstrom is as mean as they come on the field, and I say that with a smile on my face. He is a physical center who loves finishing his blocks and driving defenders into the ground. The interior of the New England offensive line is pretty darn good, and David Andrews is an important player for the Patriots, but adding young players — especially if they have a mean streak like Lindstrom’s — is never a bad thing.

Round 6, Pick 208: EDGE Isaiah Thomas, Oklahoma

The Patriots take an Oklahoma edge for the second consecutive year, and this one has some really solid explosion. Thomas had 22.5 tackles for loss and 14.5 sacks over the last two seasons alone, and has great length at 6-foot-5. He is a guy who could be a development player for them, and shows some flashes of brilliance on tape.

Round 7, Pick 219: OT Matt Waletzko, North Dakota

I’ll be honest, I’d be shocked if Waletzko ended up being taken here. He is at the Senior Bowl and giving people an opportunity to see him against real competition. He has a chance to really shine.

He was measured at 6-foot-7 and 310 pounds down in Mobile, which means he can add some weight to his frame; he also has 35 1/8-inch arms. He’s a great developmental tackle, and his tape is so much fun to watch. The Patriots might not be able to take him here in April, but he’s a name to keep an eye on as the draft process ramps up. Plus, getting to post the clip of him sending a corner into next week is worth it.

All in all, I think this would be a great draft for the Patriots. New England would be able to add athleticism and youth to its defense, and a playmaker for quarterback Mac Jones on offense, along with some developmental linemen on both sides.

There will be many mocks to come, so be on the lookout. Welcome to Draft Season!


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Pat is a host of The Patriot Nation Podcast. Interact with him on Twitter @plane_pats.