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Pat Lane’s 7-round mock draft 7.0: Patriots trade down in the first round, shore up their trenches

The Patriots move around a bit and get help on both sides of the football.

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The wait is finally over: Welcome to NFL Draft week.

While that is quite exciting, it also means that this will be my final mock New England Patriots mock draft of the season. Before we get started, I therefore wanted to take the opportunity to thank you for following along; I hope you enjoyed reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.

By the end of the week, we will know exactly what the Patriots will have done. In the meantime, however, here’s one last mock on what they could do. Let’s get into it.

Pat Lane’s seven-round mock draft Version 1.0 | Version 2.0 | Version 3.0 | Version 4.0 | Version 5.0 | Version 6.0

Round 1

TRADE: 1-14 and 6-184 to Detroit Lions for 1-18 and 3-81: The Patriots move back a few spots, knowing that there is still going to be plenty of talent on the board further down Round 1. They also pick up another top-100 selection in the process.

1-18: EDGE Myles Murphy (Clemson). The Patriots have a solid edge group right now, but given that it is one of the most important positions on the football field this day and age it makes sense to add more talent. If you can pressure the quarterback consistently, your defense is going to be formidable. Myles Murphy can do that, and more.

Not only does he have the power and explosiveness to pressure the QB, but he also does a really good job playing the run as well. While he hasn’t done it much, he was even asked to drop into coverage a few times, and did well there too. He could be an instant-impact guy, and, with Josh Uche going into the final year of his deal, the Patriots may find that Murphy is a bit more of a complete player if they decide to let Uche walk. Even if they keep Uche, having extra playmakers on the edge is a good way to win football games and keep everyone fresh and healthy.

Round 2

TRADE: 2-46 and 3-76 to Houston Texans for 2-33 and a 2024 5th-round pick. The draft is filled with surprises, and sometimes you have to be ready to pounce when something strange happens. The Patriots were ready in 2021 when Christian Barmore, who many had as a first-round pick, slipped into the second round because of some motor and maturity concerns. They are ready here when a similar thing happens to a lineman, this time on the other side of the ball.

2-33: OT Darnell Wright (Tennessee). Darnell Wright lasting until Day 2 might come as a bit of a surprise to some people, but I think it is entirely possible that he drops back to where he was originally projected to go at the start of the offseason. We have all heard and read the rumors about whether he really puts all his time and effort in on a consistent basis. Combining those with the fact that he is going to most likely end up on the right side of the line, might push him out of the first round.

If it does, I think the Patriots get aggressive to move up and get him. They are, after all, looking for a right tackle, and he could be the solution there right away.

Round 3

3-81: CB Jakorian Bennett (Maryland). Matt Groh put a premium on speed in his press conference with the media last week, and the Patriots have made a concerted effort to get faster and more athletic at a lot of positions, with cornerback certainly being one of them. How about a guy who ran a 4.30-second 40-yard dash, had a 40.5-inch Vertical, and an 11-foot-1 broad jump? Yeah, I think that’ll do.

Add the fact that Bennett has pretty good coverage skills, and consistently plays through the football — breaking up passes and causing turnovers — and he looks like the exact type of player New England would want. I know people want a big, physical corner, but he’s a willing tackler, and he plays a bit bigger than his size, so I don’t mind that he’s only 5-foot-11 and 188 pounds.

Round 4

4-107: RB Roschon Johnson (Texas). The Patriots drafting a running back from Texas? No, it’s not Bijan Robinson in the first round, but his teammate Roschon Johnson in the fourth.

Johnson was originally recruited to Texas to play quarterback, but made the transition to running back in his freshman year because of injuries at the position. Although he has been passed on the depth chart by Robinson, he still made the most of his carries, finishing with a career rushing average comfortably above 5.0 yards per carry. He has experience catching football out of the backfield, and is an incredibly tough runner, but also shows some really impressive wiggle for a guy his size.

Johnson would be a really good complement to Rhamondre Stevenson, and might push James Robinson for the backup role, assuming Pierre Strong Jr. takes over as the Patriots’ receiving back.

4-117: OT Wanya Morris (Oklahoma). The Patriots don’t need just one tackle, they really could use two. In steps Wanya Morris, who some project as a guard, but he certainly has the size — 6-foot-5, 307 pounds — to play tackle. The biggest question is his athleticism, but, if the Patriots are comfortable with that, they can give Morris a year to learn under Trent Brown, and get bigger, in preparation for him taking over as a starting tackle.

He is probably best suited at right tackle, so it would be interesting to see how they use him and Darnell Wright together. An interesting tidbit is that he and Wright actually went to Tennessee together, before Morris transferred to Oklahoma. Now they would get a chance to be teammates once again in New England.

4-135: LB Henry To’oTo’o (Alabama). The Patriots are in need of athletic linebackers. While To’oTo’o may not have put up gaudy numbers at the Combine, his athleticism is all over his tape. He is instinctual, and flies from sideline to sideline making plays. At 6-foot-1, 227 pounds, he is a bit on the smaller side and sometimes gets swallowed up by blocks, even when the player blocking him is only a running back. He has some things to work on, but he is a tackling machine, and could be a good fit next to Ja’Whaun Bentley and Jahlani Tavai on the Patriots’ second level.

Round 6

6-184: TE Griffin Hebert (Louisiana Tech). It’s unclear where exactly on the field Hebert is going to play; maybe he’s going to be a fullback, maybe a tight end. What is for sure is that he is an athletic freak. He ran a 4.58-second 40-yard dash, had a 39.5-inch vertical, a 10-foot-2 broad jump, did 27 reps on the bench, and then ran a 6.95 three-cone drill and a 4.27 short shuttle.

Does he end up in the do-it-all fullback role that Kyle Juszczyk made famous in San Francisco? Or is there another position for him? I don’t know for sure, but I do know that I want more athletes on the field, and Hebert fits that mold perfectly.

6-187: WR Grant DuBose (Charlotte). The Patriots wait until the sixth round to take a wide receiver, and it’s another athletic freak from a small school — something that is going to be a trend late in this draft. While his overall 40 time may not blow you away (4.57s), his 10-yard split (1.52s) was very good, as was his three-cone drill (6.89), especially for a player his size (6’2”, 201 lbs). He consistently won contested catches, and was a great blocker as well.

DuBose sounds exactly like what the Patriots want from an outside receiver. Taking him late in the draft makes some of his questions, like his ability to separate, matter quite a bit less.

6-192: S Isaiah Bolden (Jackson State). Bolden was coached by none other than Prime Time himself, Deion Sanders. He was actually drafted by the USFL, but decided to skip the spring season with the hopes of being drafted in the NFL. He then showed up to his pro day and ran a 4.31 40-yard dash. That gave any scout the knowledge that his tape wasn’t because he was playing lesser competition; he really was that athletic.

Bolden was an elite return man at Jackson State, and played special teams as well, and we know the Patriots love guys who can play all four downs. Bolden, who took a Top-30 visit with New England, would be a lot of fun in the team’s secondary and kicking game.

6-210: LB/TE Jack Colletto (Oregon State). The freak athletes continue, but in a slightly different way. Colletto is not necessarily the athletic testing freak that some in the draft are, but he does come with the ability, and the experience, of playing multiple different positions in college. While at Oregon State, he played linebacker, tight end, fullback, and even quarterback. He was the winner of the Paul Hornung Award, given annually to the most versatile player in college football. Last year, it went to Marcus Jones.

Wouldn’t it be fitting if Mike Vrabel were voted into the Patriots Hall of Fame the same year they drafted a linebacker who also played tight end? If that happened, Raekwon McMillan might have to give up No. 50 to the newest LB/TE on the roster.

Round 7

7-245: CB Kaleb Hayes (BYU). What’s that word that Matt Groh kept using in his press conference last week? Ah, yes, speed. Well, Hayes brings plenty of that. He clocked a 4.31-second 40-yard dash and a 6.88 three-cone drill at his Pro Day, and also had a 40-inch vertical and 17 reps on the bench. He’s only 5-foot-11 and 194 pounds, but he has a massive wingspan (76 1/4”) and his long arms help him out in coverage, where he racked up 19 pass breakups over the last two seasons.

Hayes is a work in progress, obviously, but — as you might have guessed by now — I love the idea of taking a flyer on someone so athletic this late in the draft.

In this draft projection, the Patriots let the board come to them: they moved back and picked up an impact player on the edge on Day 1. Then, watching how the board fell, they went up and grabbed a media darling early in the second round. They later addressed some of their needs and also added some high-upside potential on Day 3.

So that’s it. My next draft article will be a reaction instead of a mock. As always, please let me know what you think of this one in the comments and grade the draft below.


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