It’s been a unique offseason for the Patriots and their fans. For the first time in recent memory, New England spent big bringing in key free agents like Hunter Henry, Matt Judon, and Jonnu Smith. What is usually an uneventful time of the year for Patriots fans, the start of free agency was packed with breaking news everyday about a new, big name player signing with the team.
Just like March, April is usually just as lackluster. Fans speculate about who Bill Belichick will take in the first few rounds only to find out that they’ve traded out of the first round and chose under-the-radar prospects in the following rounds (unless they’re a LB from Alabama).
Picking at 15th instead of the usual late twenties or early thirties, it seems incredibly unlikely that they are able to quietly retreat from the opening night of the draft. The only question is, will the new era of football operations seen for this first-time last month continue or will they stay relatively conservative in the draft. This cuts right at the heart of what they’re going to do at the quarterback position. Many believe that the Patriots will not only break their golden rule, selecting a QB in the first round, but will actually trade up to do so.
In our Patriots mock draft 2.0, we did include trades; however, we do no project the Patriots to trade in the first round.
The New England Patriots own the 15th and 46th picks overall:
PICK #15: CB JAYCEE HORN, SOUTH CAROLINA
In our Patriots mock draft 2.0. we project that by the time they are on the clock at 15, four defenders will be off the board including Patrick Surtain II (top-ranked corner). The Patriots bypass Caleb Farley, the second ranked corner on some big boards, in order to select the heir apparent to Stephon Gilmore.Embed from Getty Images
Horn is very comparable to Gilmore in every category, including height (72.5 inches), speed (4.39s), vertical jump (41.5 inches), and arm length (33 inches). His play style on the field is just as similar. Horn excels in one-on-one man coverage, but is not as strong as a part of a zone coverage scheme. The Patriots can stick him on a team’s number one receiver to essentially neutralize them from the plan of attack.
Jaycee Horn not only makes them more versatile on the field, but can give them greater flexibility in the front office as well. The choice is up to New England as to whether or not they want to keep Gilmore on the roster or if they’d be open to saving the cap room by trading him.
PICK #46: LB DYLAN MOSES, ALABAMA
If not for the torn ACL in 2019, one of the big debates in this year’s draft would have been whether Dylan Moses or Micah Parsons would be the first taken. We might have seen two linebackers be drafted inside the top 10 as well, especially if it were not such a heavy QB and receiver draft.Embed from Getty Images
Dylan Moses may have played last year, but it was pretty apparent that he hadn’t fully recovered. It was confirmed that he had in fact injured his knee again (not confirmed if it was the same one from 2019) early on in the 2020 season and just got surgery last month to repair his MCL. He was able to play through the knee injury but his production declined.
Although the injury risk here is great, Moses is too good of a talent and too great of a fit in New England to possibly let get away. Think about Jaylon Smith being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the second round. He had one knee injury; however, it was substantially more severe than just a torn ACL. Smith fell to Dallas and although he didn’t play in his rookie season, he went on to be so productive the Cowboys signed him to a big extension at 6 years and $68.4M.
In our Patriots mock draft 2.0., we project that they can get the replacement of Stephon Gilmore in the first round and in the second round draft the replacement of Dont’a Hightower.