After the Super Bowl is over and the Tampa Bay Patriots won it, we can concentrate on the offseason with full power. After I put myself in Belichick‘s boots and played a GM two weeks ago, today I will show you my first mock draft (used the PFF draft simulator) and try to write about my picks a littlebit. I won‘t be so detailed like Evan Lazar is every time he posts about a prospect, but will write you few thoughts about the players.
If you look on the picture you can see I made some trades. We could say I was more Belichick than Coach Bill himself or my mock is „little“ Madden-ish, but I will explain you why it looks so.
I am very happy PFF gave me an A-, despite the fact I didn‘t make a single A graded move. I was very balanced, made 14 trades and picked 14 players.
I know after you were watching the list, you can’t see neither a QB nor a TE in it. I wanted to pick one from both, but other teams made some really unexpected moves. Let’s start with the QB. After I traded down to the 19th picks and got two extra picks (51st and 124th), the WFT took Mac Jones with the 15th pick. I can‘t say this was a big surprise, but I hoped for some better outcome at the end. After that WFT pick I knew I won‘t pick QB in the first round, but I wanted to spend a second round pick on Kyle Trask from Miami. That was the reason why I was just starting to make another trades and collect more picks for the later rounds. I tried to fill up the huge gap between our 47th and 96th picks. The first unexpected move came from the Steelers, who picked Trask with the 24th selection. I had one more QB targeted, but he was at the 128th position, so I was calm. He was Kellen Mond from the Texas A&M. He was taken way earlier, around 80th pick. That‘s why I finished without a QB. As of TEs, Pitts was out of my range and Freiermuth was picked in the late 30‘s range. I had no other „would like to have“ candidate from this group. So before I made my first pick I found trade partners in Indianapolis, in New Jersey and in Jacksonville, which means 4 trade downs in the first round.
25th pick – Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa: I must confess, I start falling in love with the player. Tulsa is not a power 5 college, but don’t let you be disturbed from the fact, because Collins is a good player. How good? He was the Bronko Nagurski award winner this year. This award is for the best defensive players in the USA. Predecessors were for example Aaron Donald, Luke Kueckly and Chase Young, which is a quite impressive group of players. Collins was only a 3 star recruit out of high school, that is why no power 5 offer came to him, but Tulsa is not far away from home, so it was very good for him. He redshirted the first year, but after that he quickly became a starter and he took every year a step forward. If we want to be optimistic, then he could be a good mix of Kyle van Noy and Dont’a Hightower. He is a quick learner, his projected speed is on the same level as van Noy´s and Collins, is bigger and taller than both current NFL linebacker. He is good against run and is able to drop into zone and defend the passes. Sounds good? For me absolutely. Most analysts see him as a late-first round pick, but I took him with the 25th pick. He is a versatile player, will be a great addition to our LB group. He might be the successor of Hightower in 2-3 years.
31st pick – Dillon Radunz, OT, North Dakota State: Are you high on Trey Lance? Then you should value Radunz quite high as well, since he protected Lance´s left side. I traded up for him, which might be a little reach, but after his Senior Bowl performance I thought he would be a good addition to our Oline. He originally came to the Bison as a two-star DE prospect, but switched sides and he succeeded. He is tall, but would be great to bulk up a littlebit, since he is short above 300 pounds. He moves well, he is an athletic player, who can work againts speed rushers. Some scouts see him as guard, which makes him an even better prospect, but he woud be ok for me at the end of the line. With Wynn´s health concers or the – maybe – vacant RT position he could solidify the Oline.
60th pick – Ifeatu Melifonwu, CB, Syracuse: Another Senior Bowl standout. I was a big fan of his older brother, Obi, who couldn’t be so productive as was projected. But here is another member of the clan who has a good college career. Ifeatu is a tall, bigger bodied CB, who could fit in the Patriots man coverage defense and be able to shadow bigger wide receivers. He has not elite speed, but projected as a mid 4.4 guy, which us good for this size. He is not just a good player, but he was twice an All-ACC Academic Team member, which shows his intelligence as well. He has an NFL body, but needs to be more consistent. He is all over the mock draft boards, I saw him in the first round, but in the third too, so on this place he would be a good addition. CB is not an immediate need for the Pats, but if Gilmore and/or Jackson will move somewhere else, this position will need a succession plan.
63rd pick – Rashad Weaver, DE, Pittsburgh: Pass rusher is definitely a need this year, so let‘s start with the Pitts defender. Weaver is a bit heavier than Collins, so he is rather a DE than a hybrid OLB/DE. I don’t say he couldn’t play OLB in a 3-4 system, but I see him rather as a 5-tech guy in 3-4 or a 7-tech in 4-3. With this weight he won’t be the guy who will switch to DT position in pass situations (like Wise did), but as a DE he will have every opportunity to terrorise the QBs. Weaver has great hands with wide range of pass rush moves, good locker room guy with great motor on the field. These are important traits if you want to be a good Patriot. He tore his ACL in 2019, why he missed the whole season. 2020 wasn’t a bad year for him, but his speed and burst were not what teams want to see from a top rusher. He can set the edge, reads and reacts good on run plays. He could be a good rotational player first and could win more playing time if he shows his potential.
66th pick – Najee Harris, RB, Alabama: I didn’t plan to pick RB in the draft, but when Harris was still available, I couldn’t say no. Actually I think he could be picked in the first round, so finding him so late is for me a big steal. Every year there is a RB who I really like, this year the name is Najee Harris. He was a 5-star recruit out of high school, who chose Alabama. He had to wait and fight for the opportunity trough his first 2 years, since he played together with Josh Jacobs and Damien Harris, who were ahead of him on the depth chart, but once he got the leading role he didn’t let it go. He is a big bodied power runner, who can catch the ball as well. This combination comes not so often, I would be extatic if he would became a Patriot and I could see a great Harris – Harris combo.
71st pick – Tyler Shelvin, NT, LSU: As I wrote in my first article two weeks ago, we need a NT and Shelvin could be the guy. He is for me the Belichick guy, with all the pros and cons. He has a huge body, which makes him effective against even double teams, he is a good run defender, with limited range. Shelvin could be the guy, who eats blocks to make free space for the linebackers. I took him maybe a little early for his role, but he fills a need and he wouldn’t be there when I took my next guy.
90th pick – Quinn Meinerz, C, Wisconsin-Whitewater: Oh yes, the real small school guy is here. But he is not just here, he made an explosion on the Senior Bowl. A D-III guy who made a name during the trainings. Unfortunately he broke a bone in his hand and Brian Flores didn’t let him play, but he made enough to be a good pick in the third round. He is a center, but he can play guard too. Meinerz doesn’t stop, he has the fighter attitude which could bring him far in the NFL. He might not be the best technician, but the coaches at the Patriots could elevate him into another dimension.
92nd pick – Cameron Sample, DL, Tulane: Sample had a really good week on the Senior Bowl, he was named the Defensive MVP after the game. He offers what Weaver doesn’t, the flexibilty to play at different positions in the defensive line. Sample was a DT in Tulane, but he can play DE in a 3-4 system as well. He is a fighter, he was only a two-star recruit out of high school and got only one FBS offer. That was Tulane, which he accepted. If you watch his production, you can see a straight line of development in his college career. He is able to rush the passer, to deflect the ball and to play against the run. One pick earlier we picked our nose tackle, now we pick our rush DT.
96th pick – Benjamin St-Juste, CB, Minnesota: What? Another CB and so fast after Melifonwu? Yes, I double dipped from this year´s CB class. St-Juste is another big bodied, man corner, who could be great in the Patriots system. He has a bright mind, he finished his bachelor degree at University of Michigan only in two years, then earned his master degree at Minnesota in two years again. What else, if not those degrees should tell you how strong is this kid in his head. On the field, he is very good in press man coverage, but can play in off man or zone coverages as well. Despite his big frame, his hip is relative fluid and can change directions easier than we can see usual from tall corners. He had a great week at Senior Bowl, where he helped his draft stock, some analysts see him as a potential top 100 pick.
98th pick – Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama: Yes, we like the Alabama linebackers very much, think about Hightower who is an Alabama alumni. At this point we could have our next steal, because Moses was seen as a potential first round guy, before he tore his ACL in 2019. He was highly coveted very early, he was just an 8th greader when LSU and Alabama offered him scholarships. Moses is a sideline to sideline defender, who can chase, tackle, rush the passer. He played all three LB spots in college, so he is a multiposition player, which could come handy in the Pats system. He is not the biggest man on the field, but plays with agression and power. He still needs to improve his coverage skills, but he already showed flashes. The ACL injury dropped him back, but he could be a cornerstone for the defense in the following years.
120th pick – Elerson Smith, Edge, Northern Iowa: Another player from the Senior Bowl and from FCS level. In 2019 Smith was one of the best defensive players on the FCS level, he earned first team All-American honor as well, which speaks for itself. He is a long edge player, who can play in multiple positions. At Northern Iowa he was used primary as a 7-tech, 9-tech DE, but he was put inside to 5-tech as well in passing downs. He is athletic but not elite, his first step could be quicker, but he can compensate those a littlebit with good football IQ. As I wrote he is not the best athlete and has problem if the run goes in his way, offense line player could block him. His name was unknown for me, until – guess what – the Senior Bowl. I really liked his effort to go after the QB and I think he could be an effective part of our DL rotation.
124th pick – Amari Rodgers, WR, Clemson: Finally, the so much needed WR help. Why I waited so long? Some early targets went out before I could take them and I wasn’t so sure that taking another receiver early wouldn’t cause a new Harry-situation. So I too waited until the later rounds and took two receivers – of course – from the Senior Bowl group. For Amari Rodgers NFL is not an unknown something, because his father – Tee Martin – was drafted in 2000 by the Steelers in the fifth round. Yes he was one of the QBs that year, who were taken before Brady. Back to Rodgers, who was a four-star recruit out of high school and top 75 player in that year. Rodgers was in tandem with Bengals 2nd year player, Tee Higgins at Clemson and Rodgers was used mostly in the slot. He tore his ACL befor the season in 2019, but he was able to come back and caught 30 passes for 4 TDs. 2020 was a big come back year for him, showed again his speed and quickness, we could say he recovered from his knee injury. He is a 4.4 guy, with good but not elite route running skill, who can use his body in traffic. He has run after the catch potential and can run wide range of routes. Had a good week on the Senior Bowl.
139th pick – Nico Collins, WR, Michigan: Another WR, but now I picked a taller outside target for our next QB. Collins is not a beloved name for the first two days in the draft, but he has his traits, which could be useful in certain situations. He is another four-star high school recruit with multiple power 5 offers. In 2019 he was Michigan’s Offensive Player of the Year. Collins has a big advantage, his size. He is 6‘4 tall and almost 220 heavy, which makes him a good contested catch target, although he is not a Rany Moss or Calvin Johnson, the top speed is missing unfortunately. Because of this, he is not the master of separation, but again he is very tall and he can use his frame very good. Collins is ready to block the defender if there is a running play called. He has every potential to be a good outside target, he should develop in route running to be able to run the full route tree. He showed his potential in Senior Bowl week, some analysts say he is a late second, early third day target for teams in need for receivers.
160th pick – Darius Stills, DL, West Virginia: If we believe what many analysts say, getting Stills so late is another huge steal for us, since most them are projecting him as a second day prospect. We had luck, that the PFF mock draft simulator let us take him here. DL will be filled next season with rookies after my mock, but every single player brings something specific. Stills is the pass rush specialist DT, who can run through the gaps and get after the QBs. He is not the best against the run, he still needs to learn to understand the concepts and how to attack them.
That’s it, we are done. I tried to make the settings as real as it could be, no random selection, positional value shoud be high and picking on needs. This is the result. I filled up our front 7 with different type of players. I took two corners, because we don’t know what will happen with Gilmore and Jackson in the near future. Our running back room is really good now and we got some needed receiver help as well. I would still expect another (or two) WR addition from FA. As of the QB and TE positions, the team needs to solve these positions from free agency. After all with this scenario we would spend on FA only for few higher priced player, the rest would come from the draft.
Please let me know what do you think about this mock. If you like my work, please share this article and follow me on Twitter or subscribe on my website. Thank you for your attention.