The New England Patriots have four picks in the first two rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft, which begins on TONIGHT at 8pm.
The time for mock drafts is now over, and this is my last shot at predicting the Patriots picks for the year. New England has the opportunity to add immediate impact players with early picks, while also focusing on the future. That future includes teams without leader Tom Brady, and the need for a new QB is as prevalent as ever.
Round 1, Pick 23: OT Connor Williams, Texas
Nate Solder now plays for the New York Giants, so the Patriots have to address the blindside left tackle. For now, Connor Williams will be entrusted with the responsibility of keeping Tom Brady upright for the last few seasons of his career. Williams should also be around when Brady retires, helping to usher in a new era in New England.
The left tackle spot is always hot for the NFL Draft, but this season there doesn’t seem to be as much hype around the group. Mike McGlinchey from Notre Dame is clearly the best player available, but he will be long gone before the Patriots make a selection here.
Who is going to replace Nate Solder as Left Tackle for the #Patriots?
Texas LT Connor Williams could make for the 'Perfect Patriot.'
— Patriots on CLNS (@PatriotsCLNS) April 18, 2018
Round 1, Pick 31: QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville
Here is the quarterback of the future. The Patriots break the mold, draft Lamar Jackson early, and will soon begin to build around his style of play. There are so many ways that the NFL Draft could play out, and in many cases Jackson may be gone before the Patriots even make their pick at #23. Getting him at #31 would be a steal, but it could happen.
Lamar Jackson is they most dynamic player in the draft, and New England will find a way to make him successful in the NFL.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 23, 2018
Round 2, Pick 43: TE Mark Andrews, Oklahoma
Some are growing tired of the Rob Gronkowski, and almost everyone wants a more dynamic player than Dwayne Allen as his backup. The Patriots may look towards developing a duo that can wreak havoc on opposing defenses, and Mark Andrews can help get that done. He’s also another player that would still be around when Jackson finally takes over the offense.
Round 2, Pick 63: CB M.J. Stewart, North Carolina
With the first three picks being used, surprisingly, on offensive players, the Patriots must turn their attention to the other side of the ball.
Malcolm Butler departed in free agency, and the team will have to develop a new batch of cornerbacks in order to find his replacement. M.J. Stewart from North Carolina is viewed more as an early third round pick, but he could go a bit earlier here as the Patriots want to ensure they get a quality DB. He wouldn’t be counted on to step in immediately as Jason McCourty and Eric Rowe will battle for the #2 corner spot, but Stewart could work his way onto a few special teams units in the meantime.
Round 3, Pick 95: DE Tyquan Lewis, Ohio State
Tyquan Lewis is not an elite playmaker, which is why he should be available in the third round. He does seem to be a fit for the Patriots though.
Ohio State DE Tyquan Lewis is a good fit for the Patriots. Better measurable fit than Hubbard.
— Doug Kyed (@DougKyed) April 11, 2018
He has shown his best flashes as an interior pass rusher in certain situations, and that could work with Trey Flowers and Deatrich Wise Jr. on the outside. Lewis is a player that needs some help in the run game, but New England’s depth would allow for that sort of development within the system.
Round 6, Pick 198: LB Nyles Morgan, Notre Dame
Notre Dame’s Nyles Morgan was a two-year starter and was a captain. New England loves players that display leadership qualities, and linebacker is a position of need. He isn’t crazy athletic though, and he will most likely be on the field as a special teams player.
Round 6, Pick 210: WR Trey Quinn, SMU
The Patriots lost Danny Amendola this offseason and an aging Julian Edelman is returning from an ACL injury. New England’s next slot receiver can be found deep in the draft, here at #210.
— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) March 13, 2018
SMU’s Trey Quinn seems like the perfect fit. He measured at 6’3″, 203 lbs and he led the nation with 114 receptions in 2017. He runs very solid routes and doesn’t need much space to make a catch. Quinn has natural hands, and he could be catching passes from Lamar Jackson for years to come.
Round 7, Pick 219: LB Dorian O’Daniel. Clemson
The 7th Round is hit or miss. If Dorian O’Daniel slides to the top of the round, the Patriots shouldn’t hesitate though. He has the potential to crack the roster as a linebacker, not just a special teams player. He’s undersized for the position, but he’s proven to be extremely consistent and reliable. New England would love him on any special teams unit, but he has a higher ceiling than that.
The Patriots could use the 2018 NFL Draft to truly begin looking to the future, to a time without Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. That new era could be ushered in over the course of a few seasons, giving young players the chance to develop in Foxboro. That seems to be a practical option for New England, and they will most likely begin that process Thursday in Round 1.