Trying to predict how the New England Patriots will approach the first round of the NFL draft has become somewhat of a fool’s errand.
The Patriots have developed a propensity to surprise with their top choice on draft day, so as long as they keep it. Seeing as they typically pick in the latter stage of the round, Bill Belichick in the past has opted to shop his first selection for more picks in the later rounds.
As such, it’s anyone’s guess what the reigning Super Bowl champions will do with the No. 32 overall pick Thursday night. NBC Sports’ Peter King isn’t at all sure, but he believes a highly skilled albeit troubled prospect could end up falling to New England. In his latest Football Morning in America column, King’s mock draft included the Patriots selecting Mississippi State defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons.
“I don’t think this is the likely Patriots pick, but I don’t know who is, and I wanted to get this great player in the first round,” King writes. “The second-best best DT in the draft (behind Quinnen Williams) till tearing his ACL earlier this year won’t be available to play until 2020, and he’s also got some personal rehab to do after a past physical altercation with a woman. Simmons could have the kind of impact Jaylon Smith had for the Cowboys after a serious knee injury in his last college game — and the team that picks him will have to wait only one year for Simmons, not the two seasons Dallas afforded Smith to get physically right. Smith was the 34th pick overall in 2016. We’ll see if a team near the bottom of round one or top of round two takes a shot on Simmons.”
Simmons undoubtedly boasts first-round talent, but he comes with more than one red flag. Outside of his ACL injury, video captured Simmons punching a woman two years ago, to which the 21-year-old pleaded no contest to simple assault. Former Patriots executive Mike Lombardi considers Simmons the best player in this year’s draft class, but his baggage might not be worth a top pick. Not to mention, defensive tackle isn’t among New England’s most pressing needs.
But as previously mentioned, it’s probably best to expect the unexpected when it comes to the Patriots and the NFL draft.
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