Before getting going, Lazar decided he wanted to wait on a quarterback this time. Barth wanted to move up and grab a guy early, similar to their Mock Draft 1.0.
Former Patriots assistant Michael Lombardi said on his podcast that he, “couldn’t imagine they could get either one of Lance or Fields to a high enough point to justify trading up to get them.”
“I don’t want you to think how I think, but I want you to understand how I think. That’s really critical to separate the two things,” — former Patriots assistant to the coaching staff Michael Lombardi, on scouting and why he doubts NE trades up for a QB named Fields/Lance. https://t.co/B6WuwDeVAQ pic.twitter.com/2GpBhOyQPL
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) April 8, 2021
Unlike last week’s Mock Draft 2.0 that had Jacksonville taking BYU’s Zach Wilson, this one came back down to earth with the Jaguars taking Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, the Jets taking Wilson, and the 49ers taking Justin Fields at pick number three.
With Fields going off the board this early, they decided to not trade up with Atlanta for pick number four. They couldn’t justify trading that far up for either Mac Jones or Trey Lance.
Picks four through seven went by without a quarterback being taken, and the Panthers were now on the clock at pick eight. With quarterback Sam Darnold being traded to Carolina this week, Lazar and Barth thought this would be a good spot to trade up ahead of the Broncos for either Jones or Lance. They wanted to do this using all day two and three picks, and without giving up this year’s second rounder.
After several attempts, Carolina wouldn’t budge, presumably because the simulator hadn’t factored in the Darnold trade yet. They let it go and Lance went with pick eight, and Jones went with pick nine.
There is a chance however, with Carolina no longer being in the QB, that they can trade up into this spot to get ahead of Denver once the draft rolls around.
ROUND 1 – PICK 15
A player the Patriots may have their eyes on, Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons, went the pick prior to the Vikings. Instead of reaching for someone at 15 they decide to trade back a few spots and add a top 60 pick in 2022.
*TRADE ALERT*: The Patriots trade pick #15 to the Tennessee Titans for pick #22 and a 2022 second round pick.
A late first/early second round quarterback that Lazar and Barth had their eyes on, Florida’s Kyle Trask, went at pick #19 to the Washington Football Team. The next best quarterback available is Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond.
ROUND 1 – PICK 22
Available at 22 is someone who the Patriots have been connected to this offseason, linebacker Zaven Collins from Tulsa.
According to Evan Lazar, Collins “does everything they’d want him to do at the linebacker position… off the ball run defensibility, drop in coverage, rush the passer from the edge or inside as a blitzer, wear all of those hats.”
Zaven Collins’s fit with the #Patriots:
– 3-year starter/Nagurski Award✅
– Size: 6'4, 259 ✅
– On/Off-Line versatility ✅
– Tackling/processing vs run ✅
– Blitz/edge rush in sub-package ✅
– Shallow zone coverage ability ✅
Hard to find a prospect that checks more boxes. https://t.co/VjexbwkOs1
— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) April 5, 2021
This would allow them to get another linebacker in the building to learn from Donta Hightower before he inevitably retires.
They also debated on taking wide receiver Rashod Bateman from Minnesota, who could be a replacement for Julian Edelman. Edelman, according to Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald, may not be able to play a full season due to looming knee injuries.
The upside of Collins ended up being too good to pass up.
THE PICK: Zaven Collins: Linebacker, Tulsa
ROUND 1 – PICK 46
Kellen Mond is still on the board here, and the Patriots really need to bring another quarterback into the building.
The skinny on Kellen Mond, according to Lazar, is: “Mond is the type of player that didn’t do anything flashy at Texas A&M, wasn’t the big ‘wow’ throw type of guy down the field, but he certainly got the job done when it was called upon… he checks a whole lot of boxes for the Patriots in that respect in terms of intangibles, experience, big time conference quarterback. He also ran a pro-style offense under Jimbo Fisher.”
Mond makes good decisions with the football, and looks like he takes command of the offense.
Barth agreed with Lazar here and despite thinking this is a little too high to take him, would “rather settle on Mond than Davis Mills, or Jamie Newman, Shane Buchele.”. He’s also okay with it due to them gaining a second round pick next year from the Tennessee trade, and the fact that they wouldn’t necessarily be locked into him as a franchise quarterback.
They determine that the ceiling of a Dak Prescott-type of player in Mond was worth the risk at 46.
THE PICK: Kellen Mond: Quarterback, Texas A&M
*TRADE ALERT*: The Patriots trade up pick #89 with the Cleveland Browns for picks #120, #129, and #188.
ROUND 3 – PICK 89
Wide receiver D’Wayne Eskridge from Western Michigan is on Lazar’s radar here as someone who can be a 4-down player. He has big play ability and can literally score from anywhere on the field. This also helps the potential loss of Julian Edelman.
Jaelon Darden, wider receiver from North Texas, is Barth’s preference at #89. Darden can also play 4-downs, but is smaller than Eskridge. After some back and forth, and some convincing from Lazar that Darden is NOT the next Tyreek Hill, they decide to take Eskridge.
They also made this pick with the understanding that the Patriots will trade N’Keal Harry. They get this done by trading Harry to the Washington Football Team for a 2022 fourth round pick.
THE PICK: D’Wayne Eskridge – Wide Receiver, Western Michigan
ROUND 3 – PICK 96
With a selection just 7 picks later, the guys are ready to trade back and consolidate picks. There are some stand stills at offensive skill positions, and you have to make sure this 96th pick is going to make the team. They debate between corners and tackles, but agree that this has to be a day-one player who is a lock for the roster.
*TRADE ALERT*: The Patriots trade pick #96 to the Detroit Lions for the Lions second round pick in 2022.
ROUND 4 – PICK 122
Cornerback is still very much a need for the Patriots. Benjamin St-Juste from Minnesota is a defensive back who will lock on one guy, guard the “X” receiver, and play along the boundary. Ambry Thomas from Michigan is a more versatile corner who can play multiple positions in the secondary.
They are also still looking for a tackle. Brady Christensen from BYU is someone who can give them depth along the offensive line and can step in in the future.
The idea of consolidating picks so they can assure players will make the team allows them to take Christensen here and trade up for a cornerback in the coming picks.
THE PICK: Brady Christiensen – Tackle, BYU
As they wait to try to trade back up, it looks like a lot of corners start to go off the board. St-Juste however, is still on the board.
*TRADE ALERT*: The Patriots trade up to pick #155 with the San Francisco 49ers for pick #177 and two seventh round picks in 2022.
ROUND 5 – PICK 155
The one hesitation with St-Juste was that his tape looks raw. He did have a good Senior Bowl week, which should mean he’s NFL ready. This was the one pick Lazar and Barth both fully agreed on.
THE PICK: Benjamin St-Juste – Cornerback, Minnesota
To this point, this has been the most realistic mock draft so far. From here on out they decided they don’t want to make anymore trades and draft with their last two picks.
ROUND 6 – PICK 197
With James White only being re-signed short term, they want to get another running back in the room. Khalil Herbert from Virginia is a Mike Davis type of back but who can also catch the ball. He has good ball security and can also have an impact on special teams.
THE PICK: Khalil Herbert – Running Back, Virginia Tech
ROUND 7 – PICK 242
To round out the bottom of the draft, they want to bolster either the safety, interior lineman, or defensive tackle position. Aaron Banks from Notre Dame is a guard that neither Evan or Alex were too familiar with. Despite Lazar wanting to protest day 3 lineman, the way Notre Dame churns out offensive linemen convinces them to take Banks here.
THE PICK: Aaron Banks – Guard, Notre Dame
Below is a full summary of the draft:
— Alex Barth (@RealAlexBarth) April 8, 2021
The Patriots Beat guys were able to do five things they wanted to with this draft:
- Draft a top defensive prospect early
- Get a potential starting quarterback in round 2
- Move back this year for top 60 picks in 2022
- Make 6 picks who can all make the 2021 roster
- Have quarterback flexibility in the future
All of the players drafted have the ability to make the team due to their special teams capabilities.
They both thought this was their best draft yet. It was a lot more realistic and they were able to take Patriots-type of players. They were also able to give themselves options at the quarterback position with the flexibility to trade up in 2022 and take a guy like a North Carolina’s Sam Howell, USC’s Kedon Slovis, or Alex’s favorite, Boston College’s Phil Jurkovec.
Tune in next week for a Q&A on Tuesday, and another Mock 4.0 on Thursday.