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Pat Lane’s 7-round mock draft 1.0: Patriots make a splash on offense

The Patriots trade for veteran help, and add some developmental talent in this mock draft.

NFL: AFC Divisional Round-Cincinnati Bengals at Buffalo Bills Kareem Elgazzar-USA TODAY Sports

The 2022 football season is coming to an end, and so I thought it was the right time to release my New England Patriots Mock Draft 1.0. I decided to make a big splash, and take some action popular guys as well.

The draft projections are a bit all over the place because neither the Scouting Combine nor any Pro Days have not happened yet, but I tried to make it as realistic as possible. Welcome to Draft SZN!

Round 1

TRADE: Patriots trade 1-14 and 3-76 to Bengals for Tee Higgins and 1-28. How’s that for a blockbuster? Tee Higgins has been the No. 2 receiver in Cincinnati, but he appears ready to take over as a WR1 in an offense not featuring Ja’Marr Chase as the lead guy. That’s exactly what he will be in New England.

The Patriots give up significant draft capital to acquire a player entering the final year of his rookie contract, but they upgrade a position that really needs just that.

1-28: CB Joey Porter Jr. (Penn State). Porter is a player that could very well end up as a No. 1 cornerback when all is said and done. He does come with his question marks, which is why he’s still available at the end of the first round, but he offers the size and athleticism to develop into a top-end corner.

The Patriots have also struggled with covering receivers with size, considering that Jalen Mills was their biggest corner last season (and injured down the stretch). Porter would help the Patriots significantly in that area.

Round 2

TRADE: Patriots trade 2-46 and 7-259 to Jaguars for 2-56 and 3-88. The Patriots move back 10 spots, and in doing so, replace the third-rounder they sent to the Bengals in the Higgins deal.

2-56: OT Dawand Jones (Ohio State). The Patriots are in desperate need of some help at the offensive tackle position, and Jones might be just what the doctor ordered. He is big, he is nasty, and he should be able to step right in and start at right tackle. Given that the Patriots have a need at both tackle spots, they jump at the chance to take one that could come in and start right away.

Round 3

3-88: QB Hendon Hooker (Tennessee). OK, hear me out. With some question marks about the quarterback position moving forward, the Patriots could jump at an opportunity to take a player with as high of a ceiling as Hooker near the end of the third round.

He’s coming off a torn ACL, so his 2023 might be shot, but the Patriots don’t need him to play right away. The goal would be to have him learn the system, and be ready for 2024. If Mac Jones proves his worth as one would hope, then Hooker could be a juicy trade asset. If he struggles again in 2023, Hooker could have a shot to fight for the starting job in 2024.

Either way, the Patriots aren’t afraid to draft a QB, as we’ve seen over and over again. They are almost always a very good return on investment.

Round 4

4-107: C Joe Tippmann (Wisconsin). Tippmann looks to be one of the top center prospects in this year’s draft, and with David Andrews approaching the end of his career could give the Patriots a succession plan for the position. Tippmann has given up only four hurries and one sack in the last two years, and, while he’s a bit tall for the position, he’s shown a good ability to pass and run block.

He has a few things to work on, specifically some of his footwork, and his ability to get to the next level, but learning from Andrews would be invaluable. It could take him to the next level as a player, and make him a worthy heir.

4-117: S Quindell Johnson (Memphis). With Devin McCourty’s future uncertain at best, the Patriots need a guy that can play deep safety. Johnson consistently played that role at Memphis.

He has great size and speed, but needs work on his tackling in the run game. Obviously, that’s something that the Patriots take very seriously, but I think Johnson can improve; he’s a fairly willing tackler already, he just needs to focus on his technique. One guy isn’t going to replace McCourty, but Johnson could step in and take some of those snaps.

4-135: EDGE Jose Ramirez (Eastern Michigan). Ramirez starts off the East-West Shrine Bowl participants in this mock draft, as their last four picks all were in attendance and therefore coached by New England’s staff.

He has exactly what the Patriots want in a defensive end. He isn’t an elite pass rusher, but he has a good complement of skills, and he ability to put on a bit of weight and be even better against the run as well. Ramirez is a smart rusher who could fit right into what the Patriots want to do.

Round 6

6-192: LB Mohamoud Diabate (Utah). The Patriots are clearly looking for someone with some real athleticism at the linebacker position, and Diabate fits that mold. He might not be available this late after the Combine, but the transfer from Florida should end up as a Day 3 pick and someone who can continue bringing some athleticism to the Patriots’ defense and special teams.

6-210: K Jake Moody (Michigan): The Patriots are in need of a kicker after it seemed that Nick Folk faded down the stretch. Moody is my favorite kicker in this year’s draft.

He brings accuracy, and has a cannon for a leg. He was 48-for-52 inside of 50 the last two seasons — all while working in less-than-ideal conditions at Michigan. He also kicked a school-record 59-yarder against TCU in the college football playoffs this year.

Round 7

7-233: DT Dante Stills (WVU). Stills was originally projected as a borderline undrafted free agent, but he really popped at Shrine Bowl practice with the Patriots. That might be enough to force a team to take him in the draft rather than risk him reaching free agency.

He’s a developmental player, but the Patriots have a ton of depth inside, and they should keep building like they did with Sam Roberts last year.

Coming off an 8-9 season and with questions all across their roster, the Patriots have a ton of work to do. A draft such as this one would be one heck of a start, though: getting playmakers on both the offense and defense, and in areas of need, could push the Patriots back into the playoffs next year.