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Patriots 7-Round Mock Draft 3.0 (Now With Trades!)

Last week, Patriots head coach Jerod Mayo and owner Robert Kraft spoke to reporters about the franchise’s state post-free agency.

The team did a great job retaining in-house talent but failed to fill glaring holes at quarterback, wide receiver, and left tackle with needle-moving talent. This, combined with the Vikings’ adding an extra 1st-round pick to trade up for a premiere quarterback, sparked questions over whether New England would consider moving down the draft board to load up on picks.

Mayo was clear that all options were on the table when asked about roster holes and potential trades.

“Honestly, those three positions that you just spoke of [quarterback, wide receiver, and left tackle], I would say this draft has quite a few guys that can fill those roles,” Mayo said. “Look, we sit at a very enviable spot at #3 where we could take someone at #3, or if someone offers a bag, as we would say, a lot of 1st-round picks, we definitely have to talk about those things as we continue to put together this team. You said it, there are holes on this team, but I would also say there will be people available going forward to fill those holes.”

Leaning on rookies at premium positions is risky, but several immediate starters could be available if the Patriots acquire multiple top-50 picks. This could also give New England more freedom to address areas of need on defense and provide future flexibility if quarterback is still a position of need in 2025.

So, for the first time in this season’s mock draft cycle, I’m introducing trades, starting with New England exchanging the #3 overall pick for a godfather haul.

Once again, this exercise is meant to learn about different prospects and possibilities, so in this and future installments, I’ll do my best to avoid picking the same players I have in past mocks.

TRADE:

  • NE sends #3
  • MIN sends #11, #23, a 2025 1st-round pick, and a 2026 1st-round pick

The framework for this swap is based on what the 49ers gave up to acquire Trey Lance in 2021. The Dolphins traded the 3rd overall pick to San Francisco in exchange for a 1st-round pick (12th overall), 2022 1st and 3rd-round picks, and a 2023 1st-round pick. Unlike that trade, New England would acquire an additional 1st-rounder in this year’s draft rather than a future 3rd-rounder.

Round 1, Pick 11 (from MIN): OT Olumuyima Fashanu, Penn State

Drafting a tackle in the 1st round is like buying hurricane insurance; it may not be a sexy investment, but you’ll be thankful once a storm–or a top-tier edge rusher–blows into town. And while talented pass rushers continue to flood the NFL, left tackle remains the hardest position to find elite talent outside of quarterback.

OlumuyimaOlu” Fashanu is one of those rare players. And as long as he stays healthy, the Penn State product should be a mainstay in the trenches for a decade or more.

Fashanu is one of the most talented left tackle prospects in recent memory, and he won’t turn 22 until December. The 6’6″, 312 lber offers prototypical athleticism for the position, earning a 9.49/10 Relative Athletic Score.

Those measurables translate to the field, where Fashanu’s explosiveness and advanced technique allow him to shine as a pass protector. He hits his landmarks with ease, disrupts defenders early with powerful hands, combats counters with good balance, and boasts a strong anchor to stand his ground against power. He’s also difficult to beat with line games, consistently identifying twists and stunts before they can get home.

The biggest criticism of Fashanu’s game is his run-blocking, where he struggles to sustain and finish consistently. That said, he has the talent and work ethic to improve in these areas, making them relatively minor flaws in an otherwise outstanding profile.

Fashanu may not elicit the same reaction as Drake Maye or Marvin Harrison Jr., but he’d give New England’s offense the type of blue-chip talent it desperately needs at one of the game’s most important positions.

Round 1, Pick 23 (from MIN): QB Michael Penix Jr., Washington

The Patriots address the game’s most important position with their second 1st-round pick, selecting Heisman trophy finalist Michael Penix Jr. Some may have soured on the lefty quarterback after his subpar performance in the National Championship game, but that was more of the exception than the norm when looking at his entire body of work last season.

When discussing Penix, you have to acknowledge his intimidating injury history. While at Indiana, he suffered season-ending ACL tears in 2018 and 2020 and season-ending separate AC joint separations in 2019 and 2021. But Penix stayed healthy while at Washington from 2022-2023, and his medicals reportedly came back clean at the combine. And while Injuries sapped some of the quarterback’s explosiveness and arm strength, he still ran a sub-4.6-second 40 during his pro day and has one of the best arms in this class.

According to PFF, Penix led the nation with 43 big-time throws last season, six more than the next closest player. Penix did have one of college football’s most talented receiving corps, but he maximized it with exceptional deep accuracy and velocity to hit tight windows, especially in big moments. He also shows impressive pre and post-snap recognition to capitalize against favorable looks.

Penix rarely scrambled last season, but he also had this class’ best pressure-sack rate and is fast enough to make defenses pay if they give him an alley to run. And while he isn’t the same caliber dual-threat as the draft’s other top quarterbacks, he can be effective in short-yardage and goal-line situations.

Penix has the leadership qualities, toughness, and aggressive play style that you’d want in a franchise quarterback, but he also has significant weaknesses outside of his injury history. Penix’s accuracy becomes sporadic on intermediate, largely due to a limited number of clubs in his bag. He tends to throw javelins rather than put arc on passes, which makes it difficult to throw with touch and put passes over defenders. This could be part of why he tends to avoid the middle of the field, which is a bit of a red flag for a fifth-year starter. Penix also throws with an unconventional delivery and a wide base, which makes muddy pockets difficult to navigate. That said, he appears to be working on that area of his game.

The Patriots haven’t shown much interest outside of his pro day, where director of college scouting Camren Williams was in attendance. However, wide receivers coach Tyler Hughes knows Penix well from his one-year stint as an offensive quality control coach on Washington’s staff.  If New England is comfortable with Penix’s medicals, he’s their best bet at quarterback past the top half of the 1st round. He’d also be a perfect pairing with bride quarterback Jacoby Brissett, another high-character pocket passer who isn’t afraid to take shots downfield.

Round 2, Pick 34: WR Ladd McConkey, Georgia

The Patriots address their third biggest need with one of this class’ best route-runners and most underrated athletes, selecting Ladd McConkey near the top of the 2nd round.

Despite being pegged as a scrappy slot receiver for obvious reasons, McConkey posted elite speed and agility scores at the combine, including a 4.39-second 40. At 6’0″, 186 lbs, he lacks the size and power to be a true X, but he can thrive as a Z/slot hybrid.

McConkey can quickly accelerate to get on defenders’ toes, then instantly break down and change direction to leave them in the dust. He also does a great job using his head and attacking blind spots to hide his intentions in routes, and his ability to sell double moves makes McConkey a true three-level threat. After the catch, he has the burst and vision to turn short throws into chunk plays and rip through the defense.

While McConkey is generally sure-handed, his smaller frame and hands make it difficult to win in traffic. These deficiencies also pop up against press coverage, where more physical corners can engulf him. He also missed the first month of the 2023 season with back issues and another two games with an ankle injury.

New England already has several players who fit best off the line of scrimmage, but McConkey is too talented to pass on for that reason alone. With many of the league’s top offenses shifting to condensed looks that afford receivers more space and less predictable releases, he could slide into the lineup with Kendrick Bourne and DeMario Douglas and become an instant contributor.

Round 3, Pick 68: S Kamren Kinchens, Miami

The Patriots attempted to retain Kyle Dugger by transition-tagging the 28-year-old safety, but he has yet to sign and is reportedly unhappy with the team’s decision. Safety was already a sneaky area of need since Dugger, Jabrill Peppers, and Marte Mapu are better suited near the line of scrimmage. But if Dugger is traded, the team will need a quality replacement.

Safety may be one of the weaker groups in this year’s draft class, but Kamren Kinchens stands out due to his versatility and playmaking ability.

The first thing that stands out about Kinchens is his explosiveness. He has the range to contest outside passes from centerfield, where he spent most of his time in Miami’s defense, and the ball skills to steal possessions. He’s quick to diagnose plays and fires downhill with bad intentions, laying big hits on receivers and stopping ball carriers in their tracks. He can also bump down into the slot, where he flashed as a blitzer, showed great effort as a run defender, and looked fluid when playing man-to-man against tight ends and backs.

While Kinchens is a smart player and generally sound tackler, he can put himself in bad positions by being too aggressive and will occasionally whiff on tackles. Due to his below-average arm length, he also struggles to turn contested targets into incompletions.

Losing Dugger would be a big blow to the secondary, but making Kinchens the primary free safety would allow New England to replace him with a committee approach. Peppers could spend more time as a pseudo-linebacker or slot defender in three-safety packages. Mapu could become the team’s primary tight-end eraser and robber safety on obvious passing downs to capitalize on his range and ball skills. Kinchens could also slide into any of these roles to give defenses different looks.

It also doesn’t hurt that Patriots personnel executive Alonzo Highsmith, who served as Miami’s GM of football operations from 2022-2023, also has experience with Kinchens.

Round 4, Pick 103: CB Kris Abrams-Draine, Mizzou

As I mentioned in my previous mock, the Patriots have several cornerbacks on their roster, but most are unproven or coming off significant injuries. Projected starters Christian Gonzalez and Marcus Jones suffered season-ending shoulder tears, and Jonathan Jones, who recently had surgery, is nearing the end of his career. The corner group also lost its most versatile and reliable player when Myles Bryant signed a one-year deal with the Texans.

To help reinforce the position and add another much-needed playmaker to the secondary, I have New England taking ballhawk Kris Abrams-Draine, whom they met with during Missouri’s pro day a couple of weeks ago.

Abrams-Draine’s game is similar to that of former Patriot Jack Jones. Both players are converted receivers, and that background pops on film. Abrams-Draine is dangerous when watching quarterbacks from off coverage, quickly locates the ball when locked onto his receiver’s hip, and has excellent ball skills. He trusts his athleticism and doesn’t panic when beaten, which allows him to recover and limit big plays.

While Abrams-Draine has an early-round skill set, like Jones, his lack of size could hurt his stock. At 5’11”, 179 lbs, bigger receivers will pose an issue at the top of routes and at the catchpoint. And while his run defense is admirable, as he’s a willing tackler who doesn’t shy away from dirty work, he doesn’t consistently get off blocks or wrap up.

Adding size will be a priority for Abrams-Draine if he wants to become an every-down player, but he could play a rotational role early on that allows him to do what he does best in obvious passing situations.

Round 5, Pick 137: TE Ben Sinnott, Kansas State

Alex Van Pelt showed a penchant for multiple tight-end sets with the Browns. David Njoku, whose role will likely go to Hunter Henry in New England, spent most of his time in line or flexed out in the slot. But TE2 Harrison Bryant was used all over the formation, serving as Cleveland’s primary H-back and fullback, and even took snaps on QB sneaks.

Ben Sinnott may not have any experience under center, but he was a similarly versatile weapon for Kansas State who could fill Bryant’s role in Van Pelt’s offense.

Ben Sinnott is one of this draft class’ smaller tight-end prospects, but he makes up for it with maximum effort and fluid athleticism. He’s just explosive enough to threaten downfield and win 1-on-1 situations, particularly in the Red Area. He does a nice job extending for passes to maximize his catch radius and fights for YAC like his life depends on it. As a run blocker, he can handle multiple assignments and plays with a visible chip on his shoulder.

Sinnott’s scrappy style and position flexibility will be valuable in the right system, but his lack of size, elite athletic traits, and some stiffness do pose concerns. He isn’t big enough to consistently play in-line, and stickier defenders can smother him in coverage.

Van Pelt has shown the ability to maximize versatile tight ends, and Sinnott is a superior receiving threat than the aforementioned Bryant, especially after the catch. He could become a fun early-down and Red Zone weapon in New England’s revamped offense.

Round 6, Pick 180: WR Bub Means, Pittsburgh

With the Patriots still needing a big-bodied receiver who can win outside the numbers, I have the team selecting one of the draft’s most underrated prospects.

Bub Means shines as a potential hidden gem in a class that’s short on X receivers in the middle-late rounds.

At 6’1″, 212 lbs, Means is a big target downfield and over the middle, where defenders have a tough time working through his frame. While the receiver isn’t exceptionally fast, but he’s surprisingly slippery off the line, and he can stack corners or rip off chunks of yards once he gets a head of steam. Means can be inconsistent at the catch point, but he has long arms, strong hands to bring down contested targets, and shows flashes of excellent concentration. Patriots assistant wide receivers coach Tiquan Underwood coached Means for two seasons, and he spoke highly of the receiver at Pitt’s recent pro day.

Means’ route-running is still a work in progress. He can be choppy at the top of routes, doesn’t consistently manipulate defenders or attack leverage, and needs to do a better job finding soft spots against zone. That said, Means’ weaknesses are correctable, and you can’t teach size or speed. If Underwood believes in his former protege, expect the Patriots to prioritize Means on day three.

Round 6, Pick 193 (from JAX): RB Isaiah Davis, South Dakota State

Whoever is under center this season, there’s a good chance the Patriots will be a run-heavy team in 2024. Rhamondre Stevenson and Antonio Gibson are an exciting one-two punch, but the group could use another young back to compete with Kevin Harris.

Things didn’t work out for New England the last time they took a back from South Dakota State, but Isaiah Davis was a productive and reliable player for the Jackrabbits who could fit well in Van Pelt’s wide zone scheme.

Despite toting the rock 677 times in his career, Davis fumbled just twice and averaged at least 5.8 yards per carry in each of his four seasons. At 6’0″, 218 lbs, he has the size to hit between the tackles and run through halfhearted tackle attempts. He patiently processes the defense’s flow and has quick feet to exploit rushing lanes as they develop.

Davis’ biggest drawbacks are his lack of explosiveness and breakaway speed. While I do think long speed is an overrated quality for backs, his lack of acceleration is noticeable on runs to the perimeter. Davis also needs work in protection, and while he’s a reliable underneath option, he won’t be running many routes downfield.

The Patriots interviewed Isaiah Davis during the Senior Bowl, so there’s some level of interest in the back. While he isn’t the big-play threat the team thought it was getting with Pierre Strong, Davis’ proven track record and translatable skill set could make him a solid value pick on day three.

Round 7, Pick 227 (from CHI): IOL C.J. Hanson, Holy Cross

With Cole Strange coming off a season where he suffered two significant knee injuries, the former 1st-rounder’s future is largely uncertain. Adding veterans Nick Leverett and Michael Jordan should provide solid depth, but Atonio Mafi looked unplayable for most of last season, and Jake Andrews is still an unknown.

C.J. Hanson is another late-round prospect the Patriots showed interest in. They met with the three-year starter and captain during the Shrine Bowl, and when you dive into his scouting report, it’s easy to see why New England might be interested.

Hanson will likely spend his first season on the practice squad to add much-needed bulk, but his athleticism and intelligence in the run game would make him a perfect fit in a zone scheme. Like free-agent pick-ups Leverett and Chukwuma Okorafor, Hanson is a nasty blocker who prefers finishing plays on top of defenders. In pass protection, he shows plus awareness, is effective against penetrating defensive tackles, and shows an impressive array of hand-fighting techniques, including a snatch-trap.

As mentioned in the previous section, size is a significant issue for Hanson right now. He doesn’t have the power to consistently generate movement against NFL competition, and his short arms led to quick losses against Boston College.

No one should expect Hanson to contribute early on in his NFL career, but his experience, character, and flashes of talent could be enough for a late flier.

Taylor Kyles

Taylor Kyles is the lead NFL Analyst for CLNS Media covering players, schemes, and tendencies through a New England Patriots-centric lens.

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