Patriots Mock Draft: First Five Selections

And with the 23rd pick of the NFL Draft, The New England Patriots…trade down!

Yeah, that’s right. I don’t see the Patriots keeping it, opting instead to add selections and pick a player they want later in the first round, or possibly the second round.

It would be a surprise if New England doesn’t make a trade at some point. Just look at last year. They traded a second round pick (64th overall) to the Seattle Seahawks for two selections (third round, 77th overall; fourth round, 118th overall). In another deal they moved a third rounder (73rd) to the Chicago Bears for two picks (third round, 87th; fourth round, 162nd). Finally they helped the Los Angeles Rams move up four spots (third round - 97th, for third round - 101st and fourth round - 133rd).

The last time the Patriots passed on the first round they gave up 29th overall to the Minnesota Vikings for a second (52), a third (83), and a fourth (102). New England turned those selections into Jamie Collins, Logan Ryan and Josh Boyce.

Saying the Pats nailed two out of those three selections would be an insult to those players. If only the Patriots always found this kind of quality after trading down.

Last year’s yield resulted in Chase Winovich (77th), Damien Harris (87th), Yodny Cajuste (101st) and Jarred Stidham (133rd). That’s this year’s starting quarterback, a probable starting linebacker, and two developmental players. Based on the promise they showed in limited action, it looks like those deals look like they could work out favorably for the Pats.

Now what the Patriots do in 2020 is anyone’s guess. In this mock, I won’t concoct any hypothetical trades. This is based strictly on the selections New England currently holds heading into tonight’s draft.

But they will make trades. It’s almost certain the Patriots will cut a deal and swap selections at some point.

My mock for the Patriots first five picks:

Rd 1, pick 23: DT Ross Blacklock, TCU

I’ve seen a lot of mocks projecting DE A.J. Epanesa as New England’s selection, and it makes sense. But I can see the Patriots preferring a better athlete that can do more than just hold the edge on run downs. Blacklock can also penetrate and make plays in the backfield, making him a four down contributor.

If the Patriots trade down, I could see DT Marlon Davidson being the selection.

Rd 3, pick 23: TE Adam Trautman, Dayton

Trading Rob Gronkowski has nothing to do with this selection. He was retired and wouldn’t play for New England anyway. It might be a while until the Patriots find an athlete that can respectably fill Gronkowski’s shoes, but Trautman would be an upgrade over what the Pats had last season.

The unfortunate coincidence for Trautman: If he’s selected with this pick, it’s the 87th overall selection. No pressure, Adam. No pressure.

Rd 3, pick 34: WR Tyler Johnson, Minnesota

I’m not sold on N’Keal Harry. But if he makes a quantum leap in his sophomore season, then the Patriots found someone to take some attention away from Harry. Johnson lacks downfield speed, but gets open because he’s an impeccable route runner. His technique makes him ready to contribute on day one.

And having played quarterback before should help Johnson in the classroom. He should have little to no problem getting on the same page with whoever is under center.

Rd 3, pick 36: OLB Alex Highsmith, Charlotte

With the free agency departures of Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy, New England is left with possibly Chase Winowich, Shilique Calhoun, Terez Hall and Derek Rivers for depth. Out of the four, I only feel good about Winowich.

Highsmith dominated at Charlotte, but faces a learning curve if he’s to find success at the pro level. But Bill Belichick seems to have a thang for smaller school prospects (Rivers in 2017, Markell Carter in 2011).

Rd 4, pick 19: C Keith Ismael, San Diego State

A little David Andrews insurance. Blood clots in the lungs is serious. Reoccurring blood clots in other parts of the body have cut short careers. Andrews might be optimistic about coming back, but I don’t share those thoughts until he’s back on the field.

Ismael played all three interior positions for the Aztecs and that versatility is a trait the Patriots always covet from prospects.

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