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Monday Morning Mock Draft: Which cornerback should the Patriots target in the first round?

Related: Pat Lane’s 7-round mock draft 3.0: Patriots trade up for some big help in the 1st round

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 16 UCLA at Washington Photo by Jesse Beals/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With the 2022 NFL Draft a mere 10 days away, mock drafters are still torn on who the New England Patriots will most likely select in the first round. While some are arguing for an interior offensive lineman to fill the void created by the departures of starters Shaq Mason and Ted Karras, the defensive backfield remains a popular choice as well.

In fact, multiple analysts have recently picked the Patriots to go cornerback on the first day of the draft. Who were their choices? Let’s find out.

Tyler Sullivan (CBS Sports): CB Trent McDuffie, Washington

The DeVante Parker trade likely takes New England out of the receiver conversation in the first round unless their top-graded wideout is still on the board. They could go with Nakobe Dean to address their need at linebacker or snag a tackle, but arguably the club’s biggest need is at corner with J.C. Jackson departing in free agency. McDuffie would likely be a Day 1 starter in this secondary with a chance to develop into a true No. 1 corner.

Luke Easterling (USA Today): CB Trent McDuffie, Washington

After losing both Stephon Gilmore and J.C. Jackson over the past year, the Pats desperately need to reload their corner group. McDuffie would be the perfect pick, thanks to his well-rounded skill set, polished technique, and elite instincts.

One of the best cornerback prospects in this year’s draft and a likely first-round selection, McDuffie combines impressive athleticism with a strong technical foundation and a high football IQ. The 21-year-old projects as a Day 1 starter in the NFL and has legitimate upside as a number one cornerback, but the question is whether or not he will be around when the Patriots are on the clock with the 21st overall selection in the first round.

For what it is worth, a consensus of 65 different big boards created by NFL writers has McDuffie ranked right at No. 21.

Poll

How would you grade the selection of CB Trent McDuffie at No. 21?

This poll is closed

  • 56%
    A
    (284 votes)
  • 32%
    B
    (162 votes)
  • 8%
    C
    (44 votes)
  • 1%
    D
    (7 votes)
  • 1%
    F
    (7 votes)
504 votes total Vote Now

Dane Brugler (The Athletic): CB/S Dax Hill, Michigan

This is where we might see the first interior offensive lineman off the board, but Hill offers the position versatility and athleticism that will really appeal to Bill Belichick. Hill can step in at corner or nickel from day one and possibly be a long-term answer at safety. That versatility is a luxury in Belichick’s secondary.

Hill is not really a cornerback, but the Michigan product has the versatility to carry out multiple assignments in the Patriots’ secondary. As a result, he appears to be a natural fit to the team’s multi-look defense that already features do-it-all safeties such as Kyle Dugger, Adrian Phillips and Jabrill Peppers.

While the safety position is no need for New England in 2022, Devin McCourty’s age and contract situation means that the club will need a long-term successor at the deep safety spot. Hill has the potential to be just that, all while also helping out at cornerback as a rookie.

Poll

How would you grade the selection of CB/S Dax Hill at No. 21?

This poll is closed

  • 20%
    A
    (85 votes)
  • 36%
    B
    (156 votes)
  • 30%
    C
    (130 votes)
  • 9%
    D
    (39 votes)
  • 2%
    F
    (12 votes)
422 votes total Vote Now

Dalton Miller (Pro Football Network): CB Andrew Booth Jr., Clemson

Andrew Booth Jr. feels like a perfect fit for Bill Belichick and the Patriots defense. He is a moldable ball of clay. Athletically, there’s nothing he can’t do. He’s endlessly fluid and possesses outstanding explosiveness. Booth displays good route anticipation but can be a bit jumpy at times on double moves. As he becomes more consistent, he could be one of the better cornerbacks in the league.

Cam Marino (Stacking the Board): CB Andrew Booth Jr., Clemson

Once star Falcons’ cornerback AJ Terrell’s running mate, Booth brings exceptional COD skills with an impressive athletic profile. The Patriots are going to add a cornerback in the draft and Booth makes perfect sense for their defense.

Booth showcased strong man-to-man ability throughout his three collegiate seasons at Clemson, while also bringing a unique blend of size, strength, and versatility to the position. Like the aforementioned Trent McDuffie, he too has the potential to develop into a legitimate CB1 at the NFL level and would be able to help the Patriots from Day 1 on.

As opposed to McDuffie, who might come off the board before New England’s pick, Booth Jr. is a more realistic candidate to be available at No. 21. The combination of talent and need makes him a natural fit, and would give the team a clear successor to a role previously held by the likes of Stephon Gilmore and J.C. Jackson.

Poll

How would you grade the selection of CB Andrew Booth Jr. at No. 21?

This poll is closed

  • 42%
    A
    (486 votes)
  • 41%
    B
    (479 votes)
  • 12%
    C
    (141 votes)
  • 2%
    D
    (33 votes)
  • 0%
    F
    (9 votes)
1148 votes total Vote Now

Mark Maske (Washington Post): G Kenyon Green, Texas A&M

The Patriots could plug in Green as an immediate starter on their offensive line and keep trying to use their rugged running game to aid the development of Mac Jones as a second-year quarterback.

Lance Zierlein (NFL.com): G Kenyon Green, Texas A&M

Total Patriots pick right here. Green is big (6-4, 325), tough and reliable, with multi-position flexibility if needed. He’s an early starter with Pro Bowl potential.

While cornerback is a popular pick for New England these days, not everybody has the team go with the offensive line. Mark Maske and Lance Zierlein both predict the Patriots will add Kenyon Green, the talented guard out of Texas A&M, with the 21st pick. Green projects as a Day 1 starter and would fill a massive hole for the team: at the moment only one proven starting-caliber guard — Michael Onwenu — is on the roster.

What is interesting about both mock drafts is that they go offensive line even with most of the top cornerbacks still on the board: Zierlein has the likes of Booth, Hill and Florida’s Kaiir Elam still available, among others, whereas Maske has the same group plus Trent McDuffie still on his board.

Poll

How would you grade the selection of G Kenyon Green at No. 21?

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    A
    (56 votes)
  • 28%
    B
    (112 votes)
  • 32%
    C
    (127 votes)
  • 16%
    D
    (63 votes)
  • 8%
    F
    (35 votes)
393 votes total Vote Now