With Cam Newton’s improved play over the past month and head coach Bill Belichick’s recent praise of the veteran quarterback, it seems to be trending in the direction that Newton could be brought back to the Patriots during the offseason.

Previously, I’ve detailed two other 7-round mock drafts. One that centered around Cam Newton as the franchise quarterback and one that saw the Patriots spend their 1st round selection on a quarterback and move on from Newton. In this edition, I’ll give an example of how the Patriots draft could shake out if they meet in the middle of those by re-signing Cam Newton, initially strengthening other areas of the roster, but ultimately still targeting a potential quarterback of the future. On top of that, a projected trade down that would be typical of Bill Belichick.

All picks were made using Pro Football Network’s mock draft simulator.

TRADE: New England gives pick #13 to Indianapolis for pick #23, pick #56 and a 2022 third-round pick. With Indianapolis potentially targeting a quarterback to eventually replace Philip Rivers, they could be a candidate to move up the board. During the 2018 NFL Draft, New Orleans gave pick #27, a future first-round pick and a fifth-round pick to climb to pick #14 in order to select Marcus Davenport. This deal would provide similar value for Indianapolis’ jump from #23 to #13.

Round 1, Pick #23 – Chazz Surratt, LB, North Carolina

To say that New England desperately needs to upgrade their second-level would be an understatement. They currently employ zero starting-caliber linebackers on the roster, having to force safeties Kyle Dugger and Adrian Phillips out of their natural positions. Hopefully Dont’a Hightower returns to form, but Chazz Surratt would provide much needed athleticism and instincts in the middle of the defense. Surratt, a former college quarterback, has an advanced understanding of the game and was a force in his first year as a starting linebacker last season.

Now with 21 games of experience at the position, Surratt has racked up 183 tackles, 11.5 sacks and 2 interceptions.

Round 2, Pick #44 – Hunter Long, TE, Boston College

New England has gotten minimal production from their tight end position this season, and there has been essentially no development seen from their two drafted rookies. It’s currently the glaring weakness of the offense, but Hunter Long could be an immediate contributor and potential high-quality starter in the NFL. He’s grown to 6’5 and 255 pounds, having produced 47 receptions and 4 touchdowns through 9 games this season. 

Round 2, Pick #56 – Sage Surratt, WR, Wake Forest

The other glaring weakness on the Patriots offense is wide receiver, and New England would be smart to address the position through the draft with a potentially historic class. There will be first-round caliber wide receiver prospects available in the second round because of the high-end potential and depth of the group. Sage Surratt is Chazz’s brother, and he opted out of the season after posting over 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns in just 9 games last season. He’s a refined boundary receiver with size and strength at 6’3 and 215 pounds.

Surratt was a three-time high school all-american in both football and basketball, setting the North Carolina state records for every receiving category and finishing second all-time in points for basketball.

Round 4, Pick #110 – Jamie Newman, QB, Georgia/Wake

Jamie Newman was the man throwing the ball to Sage Surratt last season, and he opted out of the season after transferring to Georgia. Despite his opt-out, he’s accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl. Newman has a lot to like as a prospect and potential target for the Patriots, as he could be drafted in the middle rounds after sitting out a crucial development season. At an athletic 6’4 and 230 pounds, he shares a similar build to Cam Newton and would make practical sense as a backup early in his career.

Newman’s deep ball was a revelation for the Demon Deacons last season, and that could eventually open up the Patriots passing offense.

Round 5, Pick #141 – Reggie Roberson, WR, SMU

While New England currently rosters the speedy Damiere Byrd, he’s on a one-year contract and has only caught one meaningful deep ball this season. The Patriots will need to target a deep threat in the draft to open up the intermediate and underneath portions of the field for likely holdovers Jakobi Meyers, N’Keal Harry and Julian Edelman. Reggie Roberson has had consecutive season-ending injuries, but is a dynamic vertical receiver when he’s healthy. During his 22 games for the Mustangs, he’s averaged 17.8 yards per catch and scored 17 touchdowns.

Round 6, Pick #164 – JaCoby Stevens, SAF, LSU

One of the few returning starters from last season’s national championship team, JaCoby Stevens is a versatile secondary piece who can play near the line of scrimmage. Stevens is a former wide receiver who played Wildcat quarterback in high school, and has plus athleticism for a strong safety. Stevens stuffed the stat sheet in 2019 with over 90 tackles, 5.0 sacks and 3 interceptions. He would make a promising pair with rookie Kyle Dugger.

Round 6, Pick #172 – Paddy Fisher, LB, Northwestern

New England should continue to target linebacker depth as the draft progresses, specifically prospects who could fill a carved-out role. The imposing Paddy Fisher (6’4, 240 pounds) plays his best football in-between the “B” gaps, stuffing the run with size and technique. Fisher is likely to finish his college career with over 400 total tackles. He would make a reasonable replacement for the role that Elandon Roberts once filled.

Round 7, Pick #202 – JaQuan Bailey, EDGE, Iowa State

Late in the draft, New England generally targets high character prospects who they believe can find a spot on the roster. JaQuan Bailey is a technical pass rusher who is stout against the run, and has produced at least 6.0 sacks in each of his past three seasons.

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