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The rush of NFL free agency has drawn to a close and it’s time for a New England Patriots mock draft. After spending heavily on both sides of the ball, Bill Belichick will have tons of flexibility in the 2021 NFL Draft.
New England’s offense will look a lot better in 2021. The additions of Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith will provide a spark for a passing attack that was devoid of weapons last season. The Cam Newton contract is also a sign that Belichick has faith in him as the starter, especially with the San Francisco 49ers refusing to discuss a Jimmy Garoppolo trade.
On the other side of the ball, the defense could be the Patriots’ bread and butter once more. Getting Dont’a Hightower back after he opted out of the 2020 season is huge, while the return of Kyle Van Noy should also provide a boost. Paired with the signing of Matthew Judon and Davon Godchaux, this defensive front should be better in 2021.
With all that said, there are still plenty of areas for the Patriots to address in the 2021 NFL Draft. Thanks to compensatory picks and a far higher draft slot than fans are used to, addressing those weaknesses with quality talent is possible.
Using The Draft Network’s mock simulator, let’s dive into our New England Patriots mock draft.
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New England Patriots mock draft: Building around the defense
New England Patriots draft picks: Best 2021 NFL Draft targets, potential draft selections
First round, 15th overall: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
New England’s defense won’t lack physicality in 2021, that much is for certain. Toughness is the lifeblood of this unit and that is reflected in the players who Belichick signed or convinced to return. With that said, speed is crucial in the modern NFL and that’s something the Patriots need in the middle of their defense.
Parsons sat out the 2020 college football season, a bold decision since it doesn’t tend to do prospects any favors. Considered a top-five talent before the fall, not seeing the field hurt his draft stock a bit. But NFL scouts were reminded why everyone loved this Penn State star following his phenomenal showing at his pro day.
This 6-foot-3, off-ball linebacker ran a 4.39 40-yard dash and he posted a 126-inch broad jump. There aren’t many players in this draft class as physically gifted as Parsons. A former edge rusher, he loves coming downhill and attacking in a defense. Not only is he comfortable being used on the blitz, he is also a multi-dimensional weapon.
According to Pro Football Focus, Parsons allowed zero touchdowns and was targeted just 68 times in 539 coverage snaps in 2019. On top of that, he earned a 94.8 run-defense grade. Parsons offers All-Pro upside and his versatility would be breathtaking in Belichick’s defense.
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Second round, 38th overall*: Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami (FL)
- New England Patriots mock draft trade: 46th overall pick, 122nd overall pick, 197th overall pick for 38th overall pick, 202nd overall pick
Aggressiveness can pay off. As we mentioned, compensatory picks give the Patriots plenty of ammunition to maneuver throughout the 2021 NFL Draft. In this mock, Rousseau kept falling and we didn’t wait around to see if he would fall to the 46th pick. So, we package a fourth-round and early sixth0round pick to move up.
Rousseau is another top player who sat out the 2020 season. While that might be a decision that makes some clubs shy away from players, Belichick supported his own players making that same choice last year. Now, he takes advantage of this situation by landing a potential star.
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This is a 6-foot-6 edge rusher with ridiculous length, athleticism and bend around the edge. Players with those kinds of physical traits typically go within the top-10 picks, but Rousseau falls because he is raw as an NFL talent. He needs to put on a ton of muscle and must learn to diversify his pass-rush moves, but the physical tools are all there. We know the Patriots can get the most out of young, defensive talent and this is the perfect home for Rousseau to blossom into a star.
Third round, 82nd overall*: Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, USC
- TRADE: New England Patriots trade 96th overall pick, 202nd pick to Washington Football Team for 82nd overall pick
If there’s one thing to questions from the Patriots’ spending spree, it’s the Nelson Agholor contract. He is a nice vertical threat and showed more flashes of talent in 2020, but drops are a major problem and New England overpaid for him. With wide receiver still a need, the Patriots should once again use their draft capital to trade up.
Julian Edelman’s days with this franchise are numbered and it’s not even a certainty he plays next season. New England needs a wide receiver who can step in immediately, with an understanding for how to run routes and an ability to operate out of the slot. Amon-Ra St. Brown fits that description perfectly. He can work the short fields as one of Newton’s preferred targets and his YAC ability will be put on full display.
Fourth round, 120th overall: Trill Williams, CB, Syracuse
It’s a matter of time until Stephon Gilmore is traded. J.C. Jackson looked outstanding on the outside this past year and Jonathan Jones thrived in the slot, but New England needs to find another cornerback. After giving considerations to some early-round options, the position is finally addressed in Round 4.
The Patriots already met with Trill Williams and who can blame them. A 6-foot-2 defensive back with tons of athleticism and great length, the tools are all there. He impressed in the slot for Syracuse, but his size, speed and arm length are signs that he can move to the outside. It might take him some time to learn the finer points of the game, but Williams can be a quality corner.
New England Patriots mock draft: Day 3 targets in 2021 NFL Draft
- Fourth round, 139th overall: Tariq Thompson, S, San Diego State
- Fifth round, 177th pick: Jamie Newman, QB, Georgia
- Sixth round, 188th overall: Jaret Patterson, RB, Buffalo
- Seventh round, 242nd overall: Landon Young, OT, Kentucky
What do you think about our New England Patriots mock draft? Let us know in the comments below.