We’re back with another mock draft!
98.5 The Sports Hub’s Alex Barth and I dove into our second PFF Mock Draft of the offseason on Thursday’s edition of the Patriots Beat Podcast on CLNS Media.
We were able to trade back in the first round, draft a high-caliber tackle, bring in two wide receivers, and add both size and depth to the back end of the defense.
Check out my full Google Doc of ongoing NFL draft prep HERE as I analyze and scout the 2023 class, and find the right fits for the Patriots.
Here’s a look at the results from Thursday night’s mock:
Round 1, Pick 14: TRADED with R6: 192 to Tampa Bay for R1: 19, R2: 50
The Tom Brady-less Tampa Bay Buccaneers came calling, so we listened. We moved back five spots to pick 19 and gave up a day three pick for another top 50 pick.
Round 1, Pick 19: Anton Harrison, OT – Oklahoma
We were still able to grab one of the better tackles in the class after moving back five spots.
Oklahoma’s Anton Harrison is 6’4” 315 lbs and was one of just five offensive linemen to run a sub-5 second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine last week (4.98). He also looked smooth in the on-field drills – and his quick feet jump off the screen on film.
He would project out to be New England’s franchise left tackle for years to come.
Round 2, Pick 46: TRADED with R6: 187 to AZ Cardinals for WR DeAndre Hopkins
Giving into both the Matthew Judon tweet from last week and the rumors from the NFL Combine, we decided to trade pick 46 and pick 187 to Monti Offenfort and the Arizona Cardinals for wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.
Hopkins missed seven weeks last season due to a PED suspension but still dominated during the second half of the season – putting up 64 catches for 718 yards and three touchdowns. Hopkins, 31, played under now Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien with the Texans and would be a seamless fit with New England. He’d immediately become Mac Jones’ favorite target.
Round 2, Pick 50: Julius Brents, CB – Kansas State
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: the Patriots need size at cornerback.
Well welcome to Foxboro, Julius Brents! New England brings in the long CB from Kansas State with the 50th pick in the draft. Check out how the 6’3″ 198-pound former Wildcat performed against the rest of the cornerbacks at the NFL Combine:
- First in the broad jump (11’6″)
- First in the 3-cone droll (6.63s)
- First in the 20-yard shuttle (4.05s)
- Second in the vertical jump (41.5″)
Brents proved to be one of the most athletic defensive backs in the class, and would be a steal at pick 50.
Round 3, Pick 76 (CAR): Christopher Smith II, S – Georgia
With a potential Devin McCourty retirement looming over the Patriots franchise, there’s a chance they need to replace him – and there might not be a better way to do so than with Georgia’s Christopher Smith II.
The 5’11” safety should absolutely be on New England’s radar at pick 76. He has high-level football instincts just like his potential predecessor, and you can’t go wrong with a defender out of Georgia in 2023.
Round 4, Pick 107 (LAR – Michel): Trey Palmer, WR – Nebraska
New England may also lose another franchise cornerstone this offseason in Jakobi Meyers, who is a pending free agent and expected to be the highest-paid wide receiver on the market.
To fill the slot receiver need, we bring in Trey Palmer. The former Nebraska Cornhusker ran the fastest 40-yard dash for receivers with a 4.33 at the Combine, and caught 71 passes for 1,043 yards and 7 touchdowns during his final season in Lincoln.
He’s a big slot at 6’0″ 192 pounds, so size is not a problem. I’m sure Bill O’Brien would love to pair him on the inside with DeAndre Hopkins on the outside.
Round 4, Pick 117: Moro Ojomo, DT – Texas
Texas’ Moro Ojomo worked with the Patriots at the Shrine Bowl in Las Vegas – already making him a favorite to land in New England.
Though some will say size is an issue for Ojomo, he plays much bigger than his 6’3″ 292-pound frame. He could add weight to be truly lethal inside, but I’m not worried about him playing at a weight that’s comfortable. Ojomo would have the opportunity to be a rotational piece behind Lawrence Guy and Christian Barmore.
Round 4, Pick 135 (JC Jackson): TRADED to LAC for R5: 157, R7: 240, 2024 R6
Trades, trades, trades. We move back 22 spots and pick up an extra seventh-round pick in 2023 and a sixth in 2024.
Round 5, Pick 157: Jake Moody, K – Michigan
As much as we love Nick Folk, he’s 38 years old now. He’s been more than consistent for the Patriots since 2019, but his time in New England may finally be up.
Becuase of this, we took Jake Moody here – who worked with the Patriots at the Shrine Bowl and hit two 51-yard field goals for the “West” Team in the game. He’s reliable from 40 yards and in and never missed an extra point in college. Keep the Foxboro kicking success of Vinatieri – Gostkowski – Folk going with Moody.
Round 5, Pick 184 (LV – Stidham): Zack Kuntz, TE – Old Dominion
Instead of pouncing on a TE early, we waited out the deepest tight end class in NFL history and drafted Zack Kuntz in round five.
The 6’7″, 255-pound tight end caught 73 passes for 692 yards and 5 TD in his one healthy season at Old Dominion, and led the way for tight ends at the Combine. He ran a 4.55 40-yard dash and became the tallest player ever to jump 40 inches in the vertical. He’d immediately become a quality compliment to Henry and Smith in the Patriots offense.
Round 6, Pick 210 (Ted Karras): Tyrus Wheat, EDGE, Mississippi State
Tyrus Wheat would be a “can’t miss” pick at 210. The 6’2″ 263-pound also worked with the Patriots at the Shrine Bowl, telling reporters at the Combine that Bill Belichick, “really decided to coach. Like a head coach. Was coaching us and scouting on the field… Just different.”
Well Wheat is just different as well. He had 18 sacks over three years with the Bulldogs, and also had an interception in each of his three season – as an EDGE rusher. That type of versatility screams “Patriots” – so we made him one.
Round 7, Pick 240: Luke Haggard, T – Indiana
Adding more depth to the offensive line, we finish the draft by taking Indiana’s Luke Haggard. Given that the Patriots just resigned IOL James Ferentz, we figured they needed the depth on the outside rather than inside.
Haggard is 6’7″ 297 pounds and could compete with Conor McDermott to be the “next man up” swing tackle in Foxboro.
We’ll be back Monday on Patriots Beat to sift through the abundance of free agency rumors and moves that are expected as the new league year starts. Make sure to subscribe to the podcast HERE, and to our YouTube channel, Patriots Press Pass.
Make sure to follow Mike on Twitter @mikekadlick, and follow @PatriotsCLNS for the latest up-to-date Patriots news!