Patriots Mock Draft: Running Back, Defensive Line Needs Addressed Early

The least-anticipated NFL draft in New England Patriots history finally is upon us.

With the NFL taking the fun out of the first round for Patriots fans, New Englanders are about as excited to watch this year’s draft as they were to tune in for the fourth quarter of Tuesday night’s Boston Celtics game.

Day 1 admittedly will be torture for Patriots Nation, as they only will tune in to see draft picks bear-hugging the man who took away New England’s’s first-round pick. But Day 2 should be a blast, with four draft picks scheduled and some potential trades on the horizon.

Here’s how sees the Patriots’ draft shaking out.

Second Round (60th overall): Bronson Kaufusi, defensive lineman, BYU
The Patriots could use their third consecutive top pick on a D-lineman and fifth consecutive top selection on a player in the front seven. They need youth along the line, with only 2015 rookies Malcom Brown, Geneo Grissom and Trey Flowers signed past this season.

Kaufusi could play strong-side defensive end in a 4-3, five-technique defensive end in a 3-4 or rush from defensive tackle on third down. He would give the Patriots some flexibility along their front seven. The Patriots also need length up front, and Kaufusi is 6-foot-6 and 285 pounds.

Second Round (61st overall; acquired from Arizona Cardinals): Derrick Henry, running back, Alabama
Before you accuse us of wishful thinking, NFL Media’s Mike Mayock and highly respected Bleacher Report draft analyst Matt Miller both pegged Henry as a second- or third-round prospect.

Henry is a great fit for the Patriots athletically and from a ball-security standpoint. New England needs youth and size at running back.

Third Round (91st overall): Kyle Murphy, offensive tackle, Stanford
The Patriots could go back to the Stanford well for another offensive lineman. Murphy has athleticism and versatility, but he was unable to work out this offseason because of a hamstring injury. He played right tackle in 2014 and left tackle in 2015, and he could sit for a year as the Patriots’ swing tackle and take over for Sebastian Vollmer in 2017.

Third Round (96th overall; compensatory pick): Sean Davis, defensive back, Maryland
Davis was better at safety in college, but he certainly has the athleticism to play cornerback in the NFL. The Patriots could use a player at either position, and Davis has impressive length, speed and agility.

Sixth Round (196th overall; acquired from Houston Texans): Keenan Reynolds, running back, Navy
The Patriots could take Reynolds even higher to ensure they get him. Bill Belichick is infatuated by Navy products, and Reynolds, who played quarterback for the Midshipmen, is a good one.

Sixth Round (204th overall; reacquired from Chicago Bears): Jeff Driskel, quarterback, Louisiana Tech
The Patriots’ need for a quarterback went from undrafted to late-round pick when Tom Brady’s four-game suspension was reinstated. Driskel, a former Boston Red Sox draft pick, has all the tools.

Sixth Round (208th overall; compensatory pick): Drew Ott, defensive end, Iowa
Ott tore his ACL in October and tried to petition the NCAA for another college season. He was denied a hardship waiver earlier this month — incredibly late in the pre-draft process. He had eight sacks in 2014 and five through four games in 2015 and could be a steal in the sixth round.

Sixth Round (214th overall; compensatory pick): David Morgan, tight end, Texas-San Antonio
Morgan doesn’t have great speed, but he’s one of the best blocking tight ends in the draft, and his 6.93-second three-cone time was impressive at the NFL Scouting Combine. He had just two drops in 2015.

Sixth Round (221st overall; compensatory pick): Derrick Kindred, safety, TCU
Kindred is another hybrid defensive back. He played safety and covered the slot during his time at TCU.

Seventh Round (243rd overall; acquired from Houston Texans): Steven Daniels, linebacker, Boston College
Daniels is undersized and isn’t the greatest athlete, but he was extremely efficient as a run-stuffer in 2015 with the Eagles.

Seventh Round (250th overall): Jaydon Mickens, wide receiver, Washington
He’s undersized at 5-foot-10, 174 pounds, but his pro day testing numbers are nearly identical to Julian Edelman’s.

Mickens: 4.54-second 40-yard dash, 6.62-second three-cone drill, 3.93-second short shuttle, 35.5-inch vertical leap, 10-foot, 1-inch broad jump, 13 bench-press reps of 225 pounds

Edelman: 4.52-second 40-yard dash, 6.62-second three-cone drill, 3.92-second short shuttle, 36.5-inch vertical leap, 10-foot, 3-inch broad jump, 14 bench-press reps of 225 pounds.

The Patriots have a 100-pick gap between the third and sixth rounds, so there’s a good possibility they could package some picks to move into the fourth or fifth rounds. If the Patriots choose to do that, here are some players that are potential fits.

POTENTIAL FOURTH-ROUND PICK: Malcolm Mitchell, wide receiver, Georgia

POTENTIAL FIFTH-ROUND PICK: Travis Feeney, linebacker, Washington

Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images

Thumbnail photo via Jan 11, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide running back Derrick Henry (2) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Clemson Tigers in the fourth quarter in the 2016 CFP National Championship at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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