One thing that Bill Belichick is known for when it comes to the NFL Draft is acquiring extra picks. Whether through trading down from their top pick, or by letting free agents leave to be awarded with compensatory selections, New England generally has more than the standard seven drafts picks.
During this week’s mock draft, you’ll see the Patriots trade down from the #15 pick, where they are currently slated with a 5-6 record. On top of that, I’ve included their projected compensatory picks via The Draft Network’s Mock Draft Machine.
TRADE: New England trades pick #15 to Jacksonville for picks #25 and #66. It’s possible that a future late-round selection could be included in this haul, as Jacksonville should be aggressive in their pursuit of weapons to surround the quarterback they’ll (likely) take in the top 3.
Round 1, Pick 25: Kyle Trask, QB, Florida
Kyle Trask has been an unlikely success story, as he was actually a backup quarterback during his high school career behind D’Eriq King. Trask wasn’t able to win the Florida starting job until Feleipe Franks was injured early last season. Since then, Trask has lit up opposing defenses through the air, and now finds himself as one of the favorites to win the Heisman Trophy.
Trask has 34 passing touchdowns to just 3 interceptions through 8 games this season, showing efficiency and accuracy. Trask has just enough mobility to maneuver the pocket, takes care of the ball and understands coverage. He’ll be an option for NFL teams looking for a future starter after the first wave of quarterbacks early in the draft.
Round 2, Pick 47: Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri
New England needs both talent and depth on the second-level of the defense, which means they’re likely to target the position early in the NFL Draft. Nick Bolton fits the modern mold of a linebacker, showing an ability to quickly diagnose plays and flow sideline to sideline. While Bolton stands at 6’0 and 232 pounds, his athleticism and range is a weapon. With sound technique as a tackler, Bolton feels like a Patriots prototype for the position.
Round 3, Pick 66: Zion Johnson, OT/OG, Boston College
New England will probably be searching for an answer on the offensive line during the offseason. While right tackle Marcus Cannon is slated to return from his opt-out, there have been rumors swirling of a potential retirement. On top of that, left guard Joe Thuney is playing this season on the franchise tag and will be a free agent in the offseason.
Zion Johnson (6’3, 315 pounds) had dominant film at Guard in 2019, and has transitioned to left tackle this season. After an initial rocky start, Johnson has settled in to his new position in recent weeks. Adding another player with position versatility will be valuable to piecing together the offensive line assuming one of Cannon and Thuney aren’t in the fold moving forward.
Round 3, Pick 96: Kenny Yeboah, TE, Ole Miss
Kenny Yeboah is a graduate transfer from Temple, but has burst on to the scene for the Ole Miss Rebels. Through 7 games, Yeboah has produced 524 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns in head coach Lane Kiffin’s offense.
New England simply needs better production from the tight end position, as their two drafted rookies have done essentially nothing to this point. Yeboah feels ready to contribute immediately as an older prospect and one that can stretch the seam, and he’s slated to compete at the Senior Bowl next month.
Round 4, Pick 116: Shi Smith, WR, South Carolina
New England will once again be searching for answers at wide receiver once the NFL Draft rolls around, as they need to improve their weapons around whichever quarterback is behind center moving forward. The fanbase should be hopeful that they take multiple swings at the position when draft time rolls around.
South Carolina’s Shi Smith is the ultimate competitor at the position, mixing quickness with effort in typical Patriots fashion. While Smith stands just 5’10 and 190 pounds, he mixes it up on the boundary and understands how to separate in all three levels. Smith has over 170 receptions so far during his collegiate career, producing behind the likes of Deebo Samuel and Bryan Edwards when he was an underclassmen.
Round 4, Pick 134: Rashad Weaver, EDGE, Pittsburgh
New England has gotten little sack production this season after the departures of Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins and others. They’ll need to target a pass rusher at some point, but the Patriots have always preferred disciplined defensive ends that play well against the run as well.
Enter Rashad Weaver, who stands at 6’5 and 270 pounds. Weaver has 14 sacks over his past 23 games, but is best while squeezing the running game with strength and power.
Round 4, Pick 140: Marlon Williams, WR, UCF
As previously mentioned, New England should target multiple wide receivers in the NFL Draft. Marlon Williams has a stocky build for the boundary, and has been dynamic as a vertical and YAC threat. Williams has the skill-set that fits as a part of a complete passing attack, as his strength and ability to beat press coverage improves his projection as an “X” receiver.
Williams has opted-out of the rest of the 2020 season after producing 71 receptions for 1,039 yards and 10 touchdowns through 8 games.
Round 5, Pick 155: Ifeatu Melifonwu, SAF/CB, Syracuse
The younger brother of former Patriots defensive back Obi Melifonwu, Ifeatu has shown versatility on the backend of the Syracuse defense. The Massachusetts native has size at 6’3 and 213 yards, and has all of the athleticism formerly shown by his older brother.
Ifeatu should fit as a strong safety and “overhang” type of player, who can play near the box with his size. With the ball skills (21 career passes defended) to cover tight ends, Ifeatu could be the mold of a player that Bill Belichick was hoping to develop JoeJuan Williams into.
Round 6, Pick 179: Pooka Williams, RB, Kansas
With mainstay running backs James White entering free agency and Rex Burkhead suffering yet another injury, New England could be looking for a future pass-catching back during the NFL Draft. Pooka Williams (5’10, 175 pounds) has been productive in limited action for a bad Kansas team, gaining nearly 3,000 total yards and in 26 collegiate games. Williams has had off-field issues, which could push his value to Day 3 of the NFL Draft.
Round 6, Pick 182: Dazz Newsome, WR, North Carolina
The best thing to happen to Dazz Newsome as a prospect was the arrival of Air Raid offensive coordinator Phil Longo and quarterback Sam Howell. Since that point in time before the 2019 season, Newsome has produced over 1,500 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Newsome’s productivity should get the senior drafted, and New England needs as many darts to throw in hopes of hitting the wide receiver bullseye.
Round 7, Pick 236: DJ Daniel, CB, Georgia
Bill Belichick is known to target defensive back depth early and often in the NFL Draft, and his relationship with Georgia head coach Kirby Smart has led to the Patriots drafting multiple Bulldogs in recent years.