Thursday could be a long night for New England Patriots fans.
The Patriots are set to pick 32nd overall in the 2015 NFL Draft, and team’s pre-draft press release projects that pick will be made around 11:35 p.m. — if New England doesn’t trade out, that is.
Many draft pundits think there isn’t a major difference between the 2oth-ranked player and the 45th-ranked player, so if the Patriots’ top target isn’t available at 32, they could try to trade down into the second round. Since the Patriots have more picks than roster spots available, they also could trade up from their 64th overall pick, giving them two mid-second-round picks.
Here’s NESN.com’s final attempt at a seven-round Patriots mock draft, in which we project zero trades:
First Round (32nd overall): Grady Jarrett, defensive tackle, Clemson
The Patriots need a big, versatile nose tackle to replace Vince Wilfork, and Jarrett has the strength to take on double teams and disruptive ability to get into the backfield on passing downs. He’s slightly undersized at 6-foot-1, 303 pounds, but he has the athleticism to tack on weight without losing too much speed and agility.
Jarrett’s ability to rush the passer makes him more appealing than other nose tackles like Eddie Goldman, Jordan Phillips and Carl Davis at this spot.
Second Round (64th overall): Mitch Morse, offensive lineman, Missouri
Morse mostly played right tackle in college, but he also spent time at center. Guard could be his best position at the NFL level, and the Patriots like drafting tackles who can move inside. Morse’s experience at center proves he can shift inside.
Third Round (96th overall): Senquez Golson, cornerback, Ole Miss
Every team wants a tall cornerback, so the Patriots might choose to buck the trend and find a hidden gem like Golson, who won’t be ranked as high on most boards because he’s only 5-foot-9. Golson has great hands for a cornerback — he intercepted 10 passes as a senior — and he’s a tremendous athlete, running a 4.46-second 40-yard dash with a 6.81-second 3-cone drill.
Third Round (97th overall): Chris Conley, wide receiver, Georgia
Speaking of tremendous athletes, Conley ran a 4.35-second 40-yard dash at 6-foot-2, 213 pounds. He wasn’t overly productive at Georgia, but the Bulldogs had a top-ranked rushing attack, which could explain his less-than-impressive statistics. Conley is very intelligent, and he has the size and speed to be a deep threat from Day 1.
Fourth Round (101st overall): Buck Allen, running back, USC
Allen has prototypical size and athleticism for the NFL at 6-foot-1, 221 pounds with a 4.53-second 40-yard dash, 6.96-second 3-cone drill, 10-foot, 1-inch broad jump and 35.5-inch vertical leap. He also was extremely productive at USC, rushing for 1,489 yards on 276 carries with 11 touchdowns in 2014. He added 41 catches for 458 yards and a touchdown through the air.
Fourth Round (131st overall): Markus Golden, edge defender, Missouri
Golden was considered the next great Missouri pass rusher coming into 2014 before Shane Ray outshined him. Golden isn’t a great athlete, but he was productive with the Tigers, recording 10 sacks as a senior. He’s stout against the run and could be used as a rotational pass rusher.
Sixth Round (177th overall): Louis Trinca-Pasat, defensive tackle, Iowa
Trinca-Pasat is known as a high-effort player, and he impressed at his pro day with a 7.32-second 3-cone at 290 pounds. He’s not an ideal starter in the NFL, but he’s built in the same mold as Chris Jones or Joe Vellano. He could be a good rotational player.
Seventh Round (219th overall): Deon Long, wide receiver, Maryland
Long attended three different colleges before settling on Maryland. He doesn’t have prototypical size or speed, but he has steady hands and great agility. Long could project as a slot receiver in the NFL.
Seventh Round (253rd overall): John Timu, linebacker, Washington
Timu was a three-year captain for the Huskies and managed to make an impact despite playing alongside Shaq Thompson, who’s considered a top prospect at linebacker. He’s only an adequate athlete, but he’s smart, shows high effort and could contribute on special teams.
Thumbnail photo via Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports Images