The first round of the NFL Draft will be taking place in a little more over 24 hours, and the rumor mill is already working overtime. The New England Patriots front has been relatively quiet so far, but even with them not being the subject of many (believable) pre-draft rumors there is still plenty to sort through.
There is other talk, after all, about things that might have an impact on them either directly or indirectly. So, with that said, let’s take a look at some of the recent ones floating around.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba is not expected to be around past No. 14. In what is considered a relatively weak wide receiver class at the top, Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba stands out as the top option available. He is unlikely to remain on the board for too long, though, with the Patriots possibly his floor.
Via ESPN’s Matt Miller, Smith-Njigba “is expected to be off the board by the time the Jets draft at No. 15” and that he “might even go to the Packers at No. 13.” New England, of course, owns selection No. 14 and is in need for wide receiver help.
Paris Johnson Jr. will likely be the first offensive tackle off the board. While it is light on wide receivers, this year’s draft offers some solid tackle prospects. Ohio State’s Paris Johnson Jr. might be the top option among them, and could become the first tackle off the board this year — possibly going as high as No. 3 overall to Arizona.
But even if he does not come off the board at that point, he is unlikely to be around when the Patriots are on the clock. As for the other top options, they might be: while Tennessee’s Darnell Wright has received some recent hype and Georgia’s Broderick Jones offers some intriguing upside, both should be in New England’s range.
Up to six cornerbacks might hear their name called on Thursday. Christian Gonzalez (Oregon) and Devon Witherspoon (Illinois) are the top cornerbacks in this year’s draft, and might be off the board before New England’s range. Other projected first-rounders include Joey Porter Jr. (Penn State) and Deonte Banks (Maryland).
Meanwhile, two more cornerbacks could join them: per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, Mississippi State’s Emmanuel Forbes and Michigan’s D.J. Turner might also make it into Round 1.
The Colts really like Will Levis. The Patriots had Levis in for a pre-draft visit, and he might just end up with one of their 2023 opponents. The Indianapolis Colts are apparently enamored with the Kentucky quarterback, and might be willing to bring him in at No. 4 overall.
Of course, New England has also shown some interest in Levis this pre-draft cycle.
Several teams ahead of the Patriots might try to trade back. As has been mentioned before, the strength of this year’s draft lies in its depth rather than its blue-chip talent. As a result, it comes as no surprise that teams slated to pick ahead of New England (No. 14) are trying to move down the board — including the Arizona Cardinals (No. 3), the Philadelphia Eagles (No. 10), and the Tennessee Titans (No. 11), per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.
The Patriots are also considered a candidate to trade back. If they want to be aggressive, however, there might be some teams to call about moving up. While moving up to Arizona’s pick will likely be too expensive, and the Eagles might not be interested in trading out, the Titans appear to be a team to watch:
While many are pegging Tennessee as a candidate to grab a quarterback high, some teams believe the Titans could be looking to accumulate picks via a trade back. The roster needs reinforcements at more spots than just quarterback.
The Patriots own 11 picks at the moment, and investing some of them in a trade-up scenario would not be entirely unsurprising. That is especially true if one of those blue-chip players at a position of need (cornerback, offensive tackle) starts falling into their range.
Jerry Jeudy is unlikely to get traded. The Patriots have been linked to Broncos wide receiver Jerry Jeudy throughout the offseason, but nothing has transpired so far. While the draft will serve as a catalyst for trade talks, it appears Jeudy and teammate Courtland Sutton will stay put: according to a report by ESPN’s Dan Graziano, “neither seems likely to get moved.”
A DeAndre Hopkins trade might be right around the corner. Former NFL cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones recently claimed that DeAndre Hopkins would be traded this week, which, in a way, is stating the obvious: if the Arizona Cardinals want to move on from the wideout and get draft capital in return, now is the best time to do so.
Hopkins has also been connected to the Patriots this offseason, but it appears the team has no real interest in bringing him in. The Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs appear to be the frontrunners, but it remains to be seen whether or not they will meet the Cardinals’ demands from both a compensation perspective and as far as absorbing Hopkins’ full contract value is concerned.