The New England Patriots are a week into free agency, and they’ve yet to fill their biggest need by acquiring a tight end. It’s almost like they’re trolling us at this point.
The goal in our latest Patriots mock draft was to come away with at least one of the top tight end prospects. There are no tight ends in this year’s draft considered worthy of a first-round pick, and the Patriots don’t have a second-round pick since they sent it to the Atlanta Falcons for wide receiver Mohamed Sanu.
So, unless a top player at another position of need started to fall, our goal on Fanspeak’s On The Clock Premium mock draft simulator was to trade back from the first round.
We had our eyes on Wisconsin outside linebacker Zack Baun in the first round, but he was selected 21st overall by the Philadelphia Eagles. LSU wide receiver Justin Jefferson, Iowa defensive end A.J. Epenesa and Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray were still available at No. 23, but we still dealt away the pick, acquiring the eighth and 25th picks in the second round from the Houston Texans for No. 23 overall and the 34th pick in the third round.
We were set to pick at No. 40 overall, but then the Baltimore Ravens offered us the 23rd and 28th picks in the second round for the eighth pick in the second round. It was too good of an offer to pass up, and a tight end had yet to come off the board, so we took a chance and traded back again.
SECOND ROUND, 55TH OVERALL: TE Cole Kmet, Notre Dame
We wound up trading first- and third-round picks for three second-round picks and still came away with the top tight end on the board in Cole Kmet. He’s 6-foot-6, 262 pounds and ran a 4.7-second 40-yard dash. He’s not the greatest blocker at this juncture, but he has the size to learn. He immediately becomes an upgrade over a position group that only includes Ryan Izzo and Matt LaCosse.
SECOND ROUND 57TH OVERALL: LB Malik Harrison, Ohio State
The Patriots lost Jamie Collins, Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Roberts in free agency. They did fill one of those spots with veteran addition Brandon Copeland, but they need more help. Harrison is a big 6-foot-3, 247-pound thumping linebacker who can move.
SECOND ROUND, 60TH OVERALL: TE Adam Trautman, Dayton
We wound up double-dipping at tight end with Trautman still available. He’s 6-foot-5, 255 pounds and ran a 4.8-second 40-yard dash with a 6.78-second 3-cone drill. He’s a better blocker than Kmet and still has plenty of athleticism.
THIRD ROUND, 87TH OVERALL: WR Lynn Bowden Jr., Kentucky
Bowden played quarterback during his junior season after Kentucky ran out of signal-callers. He’s projected as a slot receiver/punt returner/wildcat in the NFL. The Patriots could get creative with him under center in a post-Tom Brady world.
THIRD ROUND 100TH OVERALL: DT James Lynch, Baylor
Lynch is an undersized but athletic and productive interior defensive lineman. He’s 6-foot-4, 289 pounds but registered 13.5 sacks in 2019 and ran a 5.01-second 40-yard dash with a 7.39-second 3-cone drill and 4.39-second short shuttle.
FOURTH ROUND, 125TH OVERALL: C Nick Harris, Washington
The Patriots could use some insurance in case David Andrews isn’t healthy in 2020. Harris, who’s an undersized but athletic center, fits the Patriots’ scheme well.
FIFTH ROUND, 172ND OVERALL: OT Charlie Heck, UNC
Heck, at 6-foot-8, 311 pounds, fits in the mold of a Nate Solder or Sebastian Vollmer. He ran a 5.16-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine.
SIXTH ROUND, 195TH OVERALL: S Josh Metellus, Michigan
The Patriots have signed two safeties — Adrian Phillips and Cody Davis — since trading away Duron Harmon and losing Nate Ebner in free agency. They haven’t drafted a safety since 2015, however. It’s time to stock up.
SIXTH ROUND, 204TH OVERALL: K Rodrigo Blankenship, Georgia
The Patriots released kicker Stephen Gostkowski this week. We actually wouldn’t be surprised if the Patriots used their fifth-round pick on a kicker.
SIXTH ROUND, 212TH OVERALL: OLB Carter Coughlin, Minnesota
Coughlin fits in the mold of a prototypical Patriots edge defender. He’s slightly undersized at 6-foot-3, 236 pounds, but he has enough athleticism to tack on weight without becoming sluggish.
SIXTH ROUND, 213TH OVERALL: LB Michael Divinity Jr., LSU
Another heftier linebacker, Divinity is 6-foot-2, 242 pounds. He has some off-field concerns, but he’d also be a late-round flier.
SEVENTH ROUND, 230TH OVERALL: DT Benito Jones, Ole Miss
He’s a project nose tackle at 6-foot-1, 316 pounds. The Patriots need defensive line depth.
SEVENTH ROUND, 241ST OVERALL: CB Essang Bassey, Wake Forest
The Patriots don’t need cornerback help, but Bassey could project in the slot at 5-foot-9, 191 pounds with decent speed and agility.