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NFL.com’s analytics-based win-now mock draft has Patriots pick a wide receiver

Related: Monday Morning Mock Draft: Mac Jones still the favorite to become New England’s first-round pick

CFP National Championship Presented by AT&T - Ohio State v Alabama Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Coming off an aggressive free agency period, the New England Patriots are heading into the draft with few obvious needs on the roster. The biggest of them, however, is at the most important position in the game: the Patriots have no long-term solution under contract at the quarterback position.

New England selecting a passer as early as Round One next month would therefore not be a surprise. According to a recent analytics-based mock draft with a “win now” approach by NFL.com’s Cynthia Frelund, however, it would be better for the Patriots to look elsewhere when they are on the clock 15th overall:

15. New England Patriots

Jaylen Waddle

Alabama · WR · Junior

Remember, this is a mock focused on maximizing wins next season, and Cam Newton has a lot of value.

If the goal is to win now, adding a player like Waddle over the top quarterback still available in this particular mock — fellow Alabama prospect Mac Jones — does make sense. Despite his pro-readiness Jones (or most other quarterbacks) would not be expected to start in Year One, whereas Waddle could be an immediate impact player for an offense that had none of them in 2020.

Waddle, who finished his three-year career in Tuscaloosa with 106 catches for 1,999 yards and 17 touchdowns, is coming off an injury-shortened season but is possibly still the top wide receiver talent in this year’s draft. Adding a player of this caliber to the Patriots’ new-look offense would give the team’s offense another big-play threat and long-term WR1.