New England has been up and down during the first-half of the 2020 season, finding themselves at 3-5 heading into a Sunday night showdown with the Baltimore Ravens. Quarterback Cam Newton has been uneasy through the first-half, but has played his best football of the season over the past two games.
With his play starting to show signs of encouragement, it’s possible that Bill Belichick and company choose to move forward with Cam as the starter. With that in mind, they would be in good position to build around him with higher draft picks than normal.
Note: Picks were made using Pro Football Network’s Mock Draft Simulator, which doesn’t yet include compensatory picks. It’s likely that New England will enter Draft night with more capital than shown below.
Round 1, Pick 13 – Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State
Affectionately nicknamed “Baby Gronk,” the 6’5 and 258-pound Pat Freiermuth projects to be one of the first two tight ends drafted in 2021. The Massachusetts native fills a need for New England, and has started fast in his redshirt junior season with 16 receptions for 197 yards through 3 games. He’s scored 16 touchdowns in just 29 collegiate games, showing an unmatched prowess in the redzone.
Round 2, Pick 45 – Tylan Wallace, WR, Oklahoma State
Tylan Wallace likely would’ve been a top-64 selection in the 2020 NFL Draft if not for an injury that swayed his decision to return to school. He’s returned with a vengeance as a senior, now having racked up over 2,900 receiving yards and 24 touchdowns in his past 28 games. Wallace is a boundary deep threat who will stretch defenses and provide explosive plays in the NFL. That’s currently a missing aspect of the Patriots offense.
Round 4, Pick 108 – LaBryan Ray, DT, Alabama
New England’s defensive line depth has been tested this season after multiple free agency departures, and the results have been uninspiring. They’ll need to look for youth to inject in the rotation during the draft, and LaBryan Ray is an ascending prospect. The former 5-star recruit has struggled to remain healthy, but has been productive when on the field. With the Nick Saban connection at Alabama, expect Ray to be a target of the Patriots.
Round 5, Pick 140 – Charles Snowden, LB, Virginia
New England desperately needs athleticism on the second-level of the defense, and the presence of a prospect like Charles Snowden would change the complexion of the linebacker core. Snowden stands at 6’7 and 240 pounds, bringing length and the tackling radius of a Cougar. He uses his long arms to set the edge and disrupt passing lanes, and has the speed to track down quarterbacks when they scramble (5.0 sacks in 6 games in 2020). Snowden recently accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl.
Round 6, Pick 162 – Kellen Mond, QB, Texas A&M
Even if New England were to build around Cam Newton, they could use a backup with similar traits at the position. Standing at 6’3 and 220 pounds with excellent athleticism for the position and a big arm, Mond would fit the new-look Patriots offensive scheme. While an exciting prospect with future starter potential, Mond (60 touchdowns to 20 interceptions over the past 3 seasons) doesn’t come without flaws and still has development ahead of him. That means despite his talents, he could be available on Day 3 of the NFL Draft.
Round 6, Pick 171 – Amari Rodgers, WR, Clemson
Throughout his four years at Clemson, Amari Rodgers has remained a consistent contributor. He’s always fit well as a part of a wide receiver rotation, scoring at least 4 touchdowns in each of the past 3 seasons. Rodgers adds special teams versatility as a punt returner.
Round 7, Pick 203 – Brady Breeze, SAF, Oregon
Brady Breeze opted out of the 2020 college football season, but the last we saw of him he was performing well in big games for the Oregon Ducks. He fits the mold of a strong safety and nickel hybrid who can operate as the “Overhang” defender. That’s a position that new England has coveted over the years, and Breeze could create a promising duo alongside rookie safety Kyle Dugger.