Matt's (Ideal) Mock 5.0: Looking for answers from the great

On Thursday night, Patriots fans will finally receive the first hint of an answer as to how Bill Belichick plans to address New England's roster, a roster which currently has more obvious holes than fans are used to seeing. Given Belichick's proclivity to make surprising offseason moves, none can truly predict what he will do or say with certainty, "Here's a mock based on what Belichick does." We can all only guess and wait.

This mock is not made with any simulator; it is my ideal mock, the mock I want to see happen. Of course, this mock can only include a limited number of players; the limitations on this mock does not mean there are no other players on my board - far from it - nor that I am certain that this is what will happen. As I said before, we are all only guessing.

Here is my guess. (All trade value is from the Rich Hill chart, though not the most up-to-date one from a couple hours ago as there are some cropped-out picks from the photo that I included in my trades.)

TRADE: NE trades 1-21, 6-200, and WR N'Keal Harry (266 pts. + player) to ARI for 1-23, 3-87, and 7-244 (295 pts.)

This is similar the trade I made in my first-round mock (pre-yesterday's pick swap with Houston), a trade I can see as possible as it is in the 2010 mold of moving back a small amount of picks before landing the desired player. Speaking of my first-round mock, my pick is the same as well:

1-23: George Karlaftis, ED, Purdue

Why Karlaftis? Why not a cornerback? Primarily because I think the best-fit corners for New England (including Andrew Booth Jr.) will be off the board by the time #21 rolls around, and because I think Karlaftis has the potential to be dominant. One of the strongest edge defenders in this year's draft class, Karlaftis can lock down the side opposite Matthew Judon on all three downs, allowing Josh Uche and Ronnie Perkins to rotate in and out and find their own roles on the team more easily. I truly think Karlaftis can be elite, and with him seeming to be lost in the discussion, he would be an excellent selection for New England in the first round.

TRADE: NE sends 2-54 (104 pts.) to JAX for 3-78, 5-157, and a 2023 3rd (89 pts. + future pick)

I would love to grab a second-round corner, but there are players I want later on and the cost to move up into the top of the round is too high. Additionally, there's a corner I think I can get soon, and a second later. And with this trade, I pick up a 2023 3rd to replace the one New England sent to Miami in the DeVante Parker trade.

3-78: Brandon Smith, LB, Penn State

Although the Patriots have quantity at linebacker, their quality is unknown, hence the addition of Smith, a versatile athlete who can do everything asked of a linebacker. Plus, the addition of a player with the forename "Brandon" would troll a regular on another blog I am part of; said regular has had a years-long vendetta against Patriots named Brandon, and New England adding one would make me smile from here to Foxboro.

3-85: Joshua Williams, CB, Fayetteville State

I have a lot of hope for Williams. Though coming from a Division II program, Williams has shown that he can compete in man, zone, and press situations, and he possesses the height and length of an ideal outside corner. The Patriots have already had one recent Day 2 success from a D-II school in Lenoir-Rhyne's Kyle Dugger, and Williams could become their next.

3-87: Max Mitchell, T, Louisiana

Mitchell might be my ideal Day 2 tackle prospect in this draft: he is able to play on the left or right sides of the line, has the luxury of a year of development behind Isaiah Wynn and Trent Brown, and is able to fill in at either spot should Wynn or Brown get hurt. He is not a first-day starter, but on New England's depth chart, he does not need to be. I have taken Mitchell in multiple earlier mocks; I take him now.

TRADE: NE trades 5-157 and a 2023 4th (11 pts. + future pick) to LV for 4-126 (23 pts.)

This creates another hole to fill in next year's draft, one mitigated by a projected gain of a 2023 third-round compensatory pick for the loss of JC Jackson in free agency and by my earlier trade for Jacksonville's 2023 third-rounder. The reason for this trade is that I have two fourth-round targets and, by trading for #126, I keep Baltimore (who has pick #128) from immediately leapfrogging me to grab the player I want at #127.

4-126: Phidarian Mathis, DL, Alabama

I have taken an Alabama prospect; you are all welcome. With the Patriots needing more youth at defensive tackle alongside Christian Barmore, I believe that Mathis would be an excellent fit. While his strengths lie in run defense, he is no slouch pushing back the pocket in the passing game, tallying nine sacks in 2021 while lining up at multiple spots along the defensive front. Add him to the board.

4-127: Jason Poe, G, Mercer

Poe is my guy in this year's draft, and as evidenced by this fourth-round selection, I am higher on him than most. A converted fullback, Poe popped up on the national radar by dominating Alabama's defensive linemen, then proceeded to dominate Georgia's pro day and boost his own draft stock. Even as the draft approaches, Poe is adding to his NFL value by starting to long snap. I would take him in the third round; the fourth will more than do.

5-158: Charleston Rambo, WR, Miami (FL)

Aside from having one of the coolest names of any prospect in this draft, Rambo is a slippery route runner and separator, possessing the tools the Patriots are missing in their wide receiver room. While there may be players available earlier whom fans and team alike may find more desirable, I chose to address defense early and offense in the middle rounds, and Rambo is a player whom I think the Patriots can pick up a bit later but can carve out an early role with his skill set.

6-183: Chris Paul, T/G, Tulsa

I debated between three offensive linemen at this spot before deciding on Paul. Aside from his tackle/guard versatility, Paul's 325-lb. strength complements Poe's pulling ability and Mitchell's movement to give New England an offensive lineman who can, with development, excel on the field.

TRADE: NE sends 6-210 and 7-244 (6 pts.) to CAR for 6-199 (5 pts.)

One more hop up the draft. Pick #199 seems too fitting.

6-199: ZaQuandre White, RB, South Carolina

Yes, I traded up for a running back when the Patriots already have Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson, and James White. But the South Carolina back is an explosive runner with passing down value as a capable receiver and pass blocker, an immediate Brandon Bolden replacement who could take over White's role in case of injury or contract expiration. He is great value in the sixth round.

7-245: Jack Jones, CB, Arizona State

Another player I would draft earlier than this spot but think could fall in the draft, Jones, one of the players most connected to the Patriots in the pre-draft process, possesses inside-outside versatility with the athleticism to compensate for his sub-six-foot frame. A scheme-versatile prospect, Jones would be a steal in the seventh round; I could see New England taking him as early as the fourth.

That concludes my pre-draft mocking, with this the ideal set of players I would like to see New England select this upcoming weekend. Naturally I will be wrong, and we are about to see just how wrong I can be, but isn't that the fun of the process? We all try our hand at prognostication, we root for prospects to succeed, and we try our hand as amateur GMs.

This is fun.

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