The New England Patriots currently own the 31st overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. How will they use it? We surveyed 14 national mock drafts to see what the experts believe.
The loss of Nate Solder to the New York Giants made finding a new left tackle the Patriots’ No. 1 priority this offseason. They added some stability to the position by re-signing LaAdrian Waddle, but New England still needs a long-term replacement for Solder, who had held down the Pats’ left side since 2012.
We’ve mentioned Kolton Miller’s name as a potential Solder successor, and we’re not alone in that regard. Six of the 14 mock drafts reviewed for this story (NFL Media’s Chad Reuter and Charles Davis; CBS Sports’ R.J. White and Pete Prisco; The MMQB’s Albert Breer and WalterFootball.com) had the Patriots selecting the UCLA product 31st overall.
NFL Media’s Bucky Brooks and CBS Sports’ Ryan Wilson both have the Patriots taking Texas’ Connor Williams, while The Ringer’s Danny Kelly went with Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey. Williams, like Miller, is highly athletic, but his lack of length has led experts to speculate whether he’ll be moved to guard in the NFL. Some consider McGlinchey the best tackle in this draft class; we believe he’ll be gone by the time the Patriots are on the clock.
Trading for Jason McCourty gave the Patriots a starting-caliber cornerback to plug into Malcolm Butler’s spot, bumping corner down the list of New England’s offseason needs. Some draft prognosticators still believe the Pats will draft one at No. 31, however, as ESPN’s Mel Kiper and CBS Sports’ Chris Trapasso both penciled in UCF’s Mike Hughes as New England’s first-round selection.
Hughes only has one season of Division I starting experience under his belt, but he was a very good cover man (four interceptions, 11 pass breakups) and a superb kick/punt returner (three return touchdowns) in 2017. The Patriots lost their primary punt returner from last season when Danny Amendola signed with the Miami Dolphins.
Justin Reid, safety, Stanford (Lance Zierlein, NFL Media): Our own Doug Kyed explained during the NFL Scouting Combine how Reid seems like a great fit for the Patriots. Drafting him could spell the end for another Stanford product, Jordan Richards, who hasn’t developed into a serviceable defensive player since being selected in the second round in 2015.
Maurice Hurst Jr., defensive tackle, Michigan (Will Brinson, CBS Sports): This would be quite the story, as Hurst’s father, with whom he’s never had a relationship, is a former Patriots cornerback. The Pats don’t have a great need at defensive tackle after trading for Danny Shelton, but Hurst is a beast who wreaked havoc inside for the Wolverines. He was diagnosed with a heart condition at the combine but since has been cleared to play. We’ll see how that affects his draft position.
Jerome Baker, linebacker, Ohio State (Peter Schrager, NFL Media): This seems a bit high for Baker, who’s projected as a second- or third-round pick. He’s known for his athleticism and versatility but lacks size (6-foot-1, 229 pounds). The Patriots still have a big need at linebacker.
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