How many mocks are too many mocks? Apparently not seven.
Now that we’re only a week out from the 2023 NFL Draft, 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Alex Barth and myself only have a few more chances to nail down how the Patriots will add to their roster starting next Thursday, April 27th.
We’ve gone pretty basic here over the last several weeks, so we decided to spice this one up a bit given Matt Groh’s comments during his pre-draft media availability.
Groh was asked if on Tuesday if adding speed to the roster will be a priority in the draft again this year, given their selections of Tyquan Thornton, Marcus Jones, and Pierre Strong in 2022.
His answer? “I don’t think you can be fast enough.”
Given these comments, Thursday’s stipulation was that we could only take players with top-5 40 times at their position.
Here are the results from Mock 7.0:
Round 1, Pick 17: Nolan Smith – EDGE, Georgia
TRADE DETAILS: R1 (14) traded to Steelers for R1 (17), R3 (80)
After trading back out of pick 14 (which they’ll likely do next Thursday), New England picks up the fastest EDGE rusher in the 2023 draft class in Nolan Smith at pick 17.
The 6’3” 240-pound defensive end wow’d at the NFL Combine with his 4.39s 40-yard dash – catapulting himself into the first-round pick conversation and a potential top ten talent.
The Patriots have some thinking to do on the outside with John Uche in a contract year, so they add an immediate impact player in Smith to their front seven. He visited the Patriots on April 6th.
Round 2, Pick 38: DJ Turner – CB, Michigan
TRADE DETAILS: 2 (47), R4 (117) traded to Raiders for R2 (38)
It’s the speed draft, so we simply couldn’t pass up bringing in the fastest player at the NFL Combine in DJ Turner.
The Michigan cornerback ran a 4.29 40-yard dash at February’s Combine, and also put up a 9.58 RAS score with the rest of his measurables. He’s only 5’11”, but makes up for his lack of height with athleticism and quickness. Turner would be yet another addition to New England’s attempt at an amoeba defensive backfield. Plus, they’re known to like their Michigan defenders.
Round 3, Pick 76: Blake Freeland – T, BYU
Blake Freeland from BYU measured in at 6’8”, 303 pounds and ran a 4.97 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine in February. He also set a record for offensive linemen with a 37″ vertical.
Athletic? Yes. Polished? Not exactly. Freeland is a raw talent, but in reading the tea leaves, it seems like New England is okay with their piecemeal protection along the offensive line with the additions of Riley Reiff and Calvin Anderson in free agency.
The Patriots use Trent Brown on the left, Riley Reiff on the right, and eventually turn to Freeland late in the year or early next season when they’re more comfortable with his technique at the position.
Round 3, Pick 80: Marvin Mims – WR, Oklahoma
New England will need to add another weapon for Mac Jones and Bill O’Brien to work with on offense eventually, and Oklahoma’s Marvin Mims fits the mold.
Mims (5’11” 183 lbs) is a plus-route runner with top-tier speed, has the ability to play both inside and out at the next level, and brings straight-line quickness with his 4.38s 40-yard dash time. Though he’s a bit on the smaller side, he’s a “go up and get it” type of receiver who has incredible hands as well.
Round 4, Pick 107: Luke Schoonmaker – TE, Michigan
Although the Patriots have two starting caliber tight ends in Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki, both are far better pass catchers than they are blockers. That’s where Michigan’s Luke Schoonmaker comes in.
Michigan’s Luke Schoonmaker putting together a solid RAS score.
Tight end is a bit of a luxury now for the #Patriots with Henry and Gesicki in the room, but I could see them taking a shot on Schoonmaker.
— Mike Kadlick (@mikekadlick) March 18, 2023
The 6’5″ tight end was Third-Team All-Big Ten in 2022 and worked with New England at the East-West Shrine Bowl in February. Schoonmaker ran a 4.63 40-yard dash and his RAS score is a sky-high 9.89.
Round 4, Pick 135: Chase Brown – RB, Illinois
The Patriots added James Robinson to their running back room this offseason, but still need help at the position after not retaining Damien Harris in free agency.
Illinois running back Chase Brown is 5’9″ 209 pounds, ran for 1,643 yards on 328 carries in 2022 (good for fourth and second in the NCAA respectively), and showed flashes as a pass catcher in 2022.
His 4.43s 40-yard dash speed and his five years of college football experience will allow him to compete at the next level immediately, likely spelling carries for Rhamondre Stevenson from day one.
Round 5, Pick 158: Michael Turk – P, Oklahoma
TRADE DETAILS: R6 (184), R6 (210) traded to Vikings for R5 (158)
Because why wouldn’t the Patriots trade up for a punter?
With Jake Bailey gone and Corliss Waitman being the only rostered punter, New England goes with Michael Turk in the fifth round. Turk worked with the Patriots at the Shine Bowl, is a freak athlete, and most importantly, ran a 4.83s 40-yard dash.
Round 6, Pick 187: Sidy Sow – IOL, Eastern Michigan
Ever heard of Sidy Sow? Neither had we! Let’s learn about him.
Sow is a 6’5″, 323-pound interior lineman from Eastern Michigan who put himself on teams’ radar with a 5.07 second 40 at the Combine. He’s experienced, having played 56 games over five seasons with the Eagles, and would have a chance to compete for the Patriots’ swing guard spot with James Ferentz.
Round 6, Pick 192: Jordan Howden – S, Minnesota
Devin McCourty’s retirement left a large hole in the backend of New England’s defense. Minnesota safety Jordan Howden is somebody who could help fill it.
The 6’0″, 203-pound safety ran a 4.49s 40, and his instincts pop off the screen on film. New England has their “bone crusher” in Kyle Dugger. They now they need a cerebral player (like McCourty) who can also cover sideline to sideline as the last line of defense. Howden has the potential to do that.
Round 7, Pick 245: Robert Beal Jr. – EDGE, Georgia
Georgia’s Robert Beal Jr. was overshadowed by first-round picks Jalen Carter and Nolan Smith, but his 4.48s speed feels impossible to pass up on in the seventh round.
We bookend the “speed draft” with our second Bulldog edge rusher. This time, it’s the 6’4″ 247-pound Beal Jr.
We’ll be back Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday next week on Patriots Beat giving you all of the latest draft news surrounding New England’s draft, draft class, and more. Make sure to subscribe to the podcast HERE, and check out our YouTube channel, Patriots Press Pass.
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