While Patriots quarterback Cam Newton has steadied his play over the past three games, he remains on a one-year contract. New England has played better over recent weeks, but they remain out of the playoff picture. If they miss out on the tournament, there’s a chance that they decide to move on from Cam Newton in the offseason.
Moving on from Cam would almost guarantee that the Patriots target a quarterback early in the 2021 NFL Draft. They will have an opening as their quarterback of the future, and the deep and talented quarterback class will present multiple options.
NOTE: For a “Build Around Cam Newton” Mock Draft, Click Here
Using the Pro Football Network Mock Draft Simulator, I performed a Mock Draft where the Patriots target a quarterback with their first-round selection. It should be noted that the simulator doesn’t yet have compensatory selections added, as the NFL hasn’t announced them. Once those are released, New England should have more picks in the middle rounds.
Here’s how the draft could play out if New England decides to build their draft and team around a rookie quarterback:
Round 1, Pick 15: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
Zach Wilson has arguably been the biggest “riser” among all NFL Draft prospects this Fall. During his sophomore season in 2019, he failed to post impressive passing numbers and made risky decisions with the football. Despite his physical skill-set, it was unclear if Wilson would be a draftable piece because of his inconsistent product. So far in 2020, the light has come on for Wilson and he’s found himself in the Heisman conversation. He’s led BYU to an 8-0 record, chucking 22 touchdowns to just 2 interceptions. Wilson (6’3, 210 pounds), is an impressive athlete for the position who is a threat as a runner. His most impressive plays are throws where his feet aren’t set or he’s moving in the pocket, showing off his arm talent. To put it simply, Wilson can “make all the throws” and has improved his processing and decision-making.
Wilson’s rise as a prospect could send him into the top-10 picks, so New England might be lucky to grab him in the middle of the first-round. He’s been that good in 2020.
Round 2, Pick 47: Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU
Terrace Marshall is a former 5-star recruit who checks in at 6’2 and 200 pounds. On a loaded LSU roster last season, Marshall showed his redzone prowess by recording 13 touchdowns. He has an understanding for space and leverage, and can be a boundary and vertical threat at the next level with his size and fluidity. Despite only playing in 5 games this season, he’s been LSU’s go-to target and has posted another 9 touchdowns.
Round 4, Pick 110: Victor Dimukeje, EDGE, Duke
New England needs better pass rush production from their defensive ends, as Chase Winovich currently leads the team with just 2.5 sacks. Victor Dimukeje is a polished pass rush prospect who has the size (6’2, 265 pounds) and strength to set the edge against the run. Dimukeje recorded 8.5 sacks last season and already has another 7.5 sacks in 2020. He has the type of motor that New England covets, and has a combination of first-step and power to be an every-down player.
Round 5, Pick 142: Ventrell Miller, LB, Florida
New England desperately needs more athleticism and depth on the second-level of their defense, as linebackers such as Ja’Whaun Bentley and Terez Hall have struggled this season. Ventrell Miller will be undersized, but can provide speed and range for an NFL defense as a fast flow style linebacker. He’ll need development in coverage, but has the tools and makeup to improve in that area.
Round 6, Pick 162: Marquez Stevenson, WR, Houston
New England should add multiple options at the wide receiver position, and they desperately need to add more speed to the position. While Stevenson is undersized, his quickness and long speed makes him a deep threat who can also thrive by picking up yards after the catch. Stevenson can be dynamic with the ball in his hands, and adds kick return potential to the Patriots special teams.
Stevenson would be immediate competition for Gunner Olszewski, and would more likely than not beat him for the roster spot.
Round 6, Pick 173: Tyler Vrabel, OT, Boston College
Tyler Vrabel is the son of long-time Patriot and current Titans head coach Mike Vrabel, and plays college football just 25 miles away from Foxboro at Boston College. Vrabel has been a sturdy left tackle for the Eagles, but could project inside at Guard in the NFL due to his size (6’5, 305 pounds). New England could use depth both at tackle and guard, and Vrabel provides starter upside on Day 3 of the NFL Draft.
Round 7, Pick 205: Jeremy Ruckert, TE, Ohio State
New England has yet to get much production from Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene, their two drafted tight ends from 2020. They could be looking for more competition at the position late in the 2021 NFL Draft, and Jeremy Ruckert has had nice flashes during his time at Ohio State. Ruckert was highly ranked as a recruit and is only a true junior, who has appeared in 29 games for the Buckeyes. He would be a homerun selection this late in the draft.