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Patriots 7-Round Mock Draft 5.0 (Dream Scenario)

After weeks of prospect study, thought experiments, and endless speculation over what the Patriots will do with the 3rd overall pick, the draft is finally upon us.

New England did a great job retaining key players and filling holes in free agency, but the team’s needs are largely the same as one of the most pivotal drafts in team history approaches. Long-term answers are still needed at quarterback, wide receiver, and left tackle, and the defense has some sneaky needs of its own with several starters and depth players set to hit free agency in 2023.

In previous mocks, I avoided drafting the same players to learn about as many prospects as possible and evaluate potential outcomes. But in this final edition, I went with my dream scenario for each of the Patriots’ eight draft picks. There were some players who didn’t quite make the cut (I’m so sorry, Xavier Legette), but I did my best to balance team needs while targeting the best players available and respecting the board.

Here we go!

Round 1, Pick 3: QB Drake Maye, UNC

Drake Maye was this draft’s consensus QB2 before a disappointing final season and Jayden Daniels’ Heisman-winning campaign. Daniels’ stock has only continued to rise this offseason, with most reputable insiders predicting he’ll be selected 2nd overall by the Commanders. Maye’s stock has gone in the opposite direction, with some ranking him behind J.J. McCarthy and others putting him as low as sixth among the class’ top passers.

New England’s top three options with the #3 pick appear to be staying put to take Maye or McCarthy, or trading with a team like the Vikings or Giants for a boatload of picks, though Albert Breer indicated Maye is the most likely choice if Washington does indeed take Daniels.

Daniels is the most pro-ready quarterback not named Caleb Williams, and J.J. McCarthy’s combination of championship pedigree and intriguing tools justifty a 1st-round gamble. That said, it’s hard to envision either being better than Maye by the end of their rookie contracts.

The ACC’s 2022 Player of the Year is known for his size, athleticism, big arm, and Josh Allen-like improvisation, but his upside goes beyond physical tools and whacky highlights. Despite just two seasons of starting experience, he’s shown an understanding of how to attack different coverages, anticipate pressure, and overcome a mostly underwhelming supporting cast. Unlike most of his peers, Maye consistently targets both the perimeter and middle of the field, and his innate feel for when to scramble is a headache for defenses that play a heavy dose of man or bail too quickly in zone coverage.

There is an undeniable risk in taking Maye. He has very real mechanical issues to overcome, needs to reign in the heroics at times, and might not be ready to lead an NFL locker room. Luckily, if New England decides Maye should sit for a year, Jacoby Brissett has shown he can command an Alex Van Pelt offense, and Bailey Zappe is a proven spot-starting option. Van Pelt’s specific style of West Coast-style footwork should also offer much-needed stability.

Maye might not be the safest pick for a rebuilding franchise. But between his early signs of promise and an unlimited ceiling, he’s the type of swing that can spark a quick turnaround and turn the Patriots into a perennial Super Bowl contender.

Round 2, Pick 34: OT Kinsgley Suamataia, BYU

During a pre-draft press conference, Eliot Wolf confirmed that free agent signing Chukwuma Okorafor projects as the team’s starting left tackle. The former Steeler has been solid throughout his career, but as his one-year deal indicates, he’s more of a bridge option than a long-term answer.

With Houston’s Patrick Paul, who many projected to go on day two, indicating he expects to be drafted in the 1st round, there could be a run on offensive tackles in that range. Brandon Coleman, Roger Rosengarten, Blake Fischer, and Kiran Amegadjie are good developmental options who will likely hear their names called in the 2nd-3rd rounds, but none have as much upside as Kingsley Suamataia.

According to The Athletic‘s Dane Brugler, double-digit members of Suamataia’s family played football at the college or pro level, including his cousin Penei Sewell, a 2x Pro Bowler for the Lions, and his grandfather Junior Ah You, who was drafted by the Patriots in 1972 and spent 13 seasons in the league. Those bloodlines show up on the field, as the Second Team All-Big 12 selection’s athleticism shines in pass protection and in space. He’s also a physical blocker who plays with a mean streak, was voted a team captain as a sophomore, and can hold down either tackle spot.

At just 21 years old with significant room for refinement, Suamataia will likely need a redshirt season. But while I’d typically prefer an immediate contributor at this stage of the draft, the athletic tackle’s ceiling and this class’ depth at receiver make this the most logical move for long-term success.

Round 3, Pick 68: WR Javon Baker, UCF

Kendrick Bourne and K.J. Osborn are proven veteran contributors, and DeMario Douglas could have a breakout 2024 season with improved quarterback play. But as Wolf acknowledged while speaking to the media last week, the offense still lacks a true X receiver who can exploit 1-on-1 matchups.

Ja’Lynn Polk, Tez Walker, and Brenden Rice are projected 3rd-rounders who fit the mold, but none offer the combination of size, explosiveness, and upside that Javon Baker brings to the table.

Baker, who visited New England for a 30 visit, is already an exceptional route runner who can make defensive backs look silly at all three levels. He flashes superb ball skills and vertical ability to win deep down the sideline, and his blend of juice and physicality makes him a true YAC threat.

While Baker has the tools to be an immediate impact player, fans and coaches will have to put up with some inconsistencies. His crafty route-running is sometimes more overzealous than impactful, and he’s a work in progress against physical coverage. While his hands and catch radius can be eye-popping at times, he’ll also drop makeable grabs and fail to finish through contact.

Baker’s best fit might be at Z, where his strengths as a ball carrier can be maximized while minimizing his reps against press. However, he’d immediately be the Patriots’ best, most experienced X option and provide the big-play ability the team has lacked there for years.

Round 4, Pick 103: ED Austin Booker, Kansas State

With their three glaring offensive needs addressed, it’s time to help New England at another premium position with a bleak long-term outlook.

Anfernee Jennings signing a three-year deal was huge for the early-down defense, and Keion White flashed more consistently in the latter part of his rookie season. But between Matthew Judon’s age and Josh Uche looking to rebound on a prove-it deal, the group could use a high-upside pass rusher.

Austin Booker is projected to go between the 3rd and 4th rounds, but in this dream scenario, his lack of experience causes a slide to the Patriots early on day three.

Booker played fewer than 500 snaps for Kansas State, but led his team in sacks, tackles for loss, and forced fumbles en route to a First-Team All-Big 12 campaign. His arsenal of moves is virtually unheard of for a 21-year-old with so few collegiate snaps under his belt. He also boasts premium arm length as well as good explosiveness and bend.

As uncommon as Booker’s production and impressive flashes were relative to his situation, his lack of on-field experience is evident in his run defense and occasionally inefficient rush execution. He’ll also need to bulk up to become an every-down player, and dropping into coverage will be new territory.

Until he rounds out his game, Booker should get opportunities as a rotational pass rusher alongside Judon, Uche, and Christian Barmore.

Round 5, Pick 137: TE Tip Reiman, Illinois

Hunter Henry and Austin Hooper present similar skill sets as reliable pass-catchers and serviceable blockers, but neither is an ideal Y tight end on early downs.

Enter Tip Reiman, whose 6’5″, 270 lb frame and rare athleticism are tailor-made for in-line blocking duties.

Reiman can tussle with defensive linemen, climb upfield to bully linebackers, and can even split out to annihilate defensive backs in space. That versatility will be valuable in Van Pelt’s run-heavy, multiple tight-end scheme. Reiman’s impressive measurables aren’t as apparent in the receiving game, where he was mostly an underneath option and flashed solid hands in limited targets. He was also voted a captain during his senior season and offers special teams value, which means more now than it has in recent seasons following the league’s changes to kickoffs.

Reiman may not have as much pass-catching upside as other talented tight ends in this range of the draft, but he’d be an immediate impact player at a position of need who brings a lunchpail mentality to New England’s rookie class.

Round 6, Pick 180: WR Bub Means, Pittsburgh

Bub Means to the Patriots feels almost inevitable. Eliot Wolf’s past teams have had a knack for double-dipping at receiver, and assistant receivers coach Tiquan Underwood worked with Means for two seasons at Pitt. The boundary specialist could also free up Baker to spend more time off the line of scrimmage.

Means has good size for the X receiver role, along with a wide catch radius, physical play style, strong hands, and enough build-up speed to stretch defenses. And while not particularly elusive, he can generate explosive plays if given a runway.

Means’ route-running lacks nuance and consistency, which could keep him off the field early on. He also doesn’t stand out in areas that typically earn late-rounders reps, like special teams and blocking.

Means will need a strong camp and preseason to earn a roster spot, but he has the traits to be a rotational player early on with starting potential if his routes improve.

Round 6, Pick 193 (from JAX): OT Travis Glover Jr., Georgia State

With the Patriots lacking developmental talent at the tackle position, taking a pair of tackles seems like a real possibility.

Travis Glover Jr. will face a significant jump in competition after playing in the Sun Belt conference, but he shined at the Senior Bowl after filling in for an injured Jeremy Flax on day two.

Glover compensates for his lack of explosive athleticism with a wide frame, long arms, and a patient, powerful strike. He also plays with an aggressive, tone-setting demeanor and has the versatility to fill in at guard, a skill set New England currently lacks. The team has also shown significant interest after meeting with the mauler during the Hula Bowl, a private workout, and hosting him for a 30 visit.

Glover’s high pad level and slower feet will present a challenge at the next level, but his versatility, play style, and durability should make him a quality backup with the potential to become a consistent contributor.

Round 7, Pick 227 (from CHI): CB Chigozie Anusiem, Colorado State

With several bodies at cornerback, but few proven or consistently healthy commodities, it makes sense that the Patriots have done their homework at the position this draft cycle. There are intriguing prospects who should be available throughout the draft, and even in undrafted free agency, but Chigozie Anusiem stood out when I watched him on tape.

New England loves gambling on height-weight-speed combinations at defensive back on day three, as evidenced last season by the selections of Ameer Speed and Isaiah Bolden. Anuseim checks those boxes with flying colors, but he’s more than just a bundle of traits. Despite playing in a primarily Cover 3 scheme, he showed sticky man coverage ability thanks to long arms and good route recognition. His safety background is also evident in his physicality as a run defender and his versatility to swap roles on the back end based on pre-snap motion.

Overaggressiveness, lack of production on the ball, and coming from a smaller program will hurt Anuseim’s stock, but he’s a perfect late-round gamble for the Patriots. He can fill in as a rotational boundary corner while making an immediate impact on special teams.

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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