So, who are the Patriots going to select in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft? Are they even going to pick anyone? Is Bill Belichick just going to execute a million trades and hoard assets?
Unsurprisingly, some experts are all over the place, though a few agree New England might target an edge rusher out of Iowa with the No. 23 pick.
The all-virtual draft is scheduled to begin Thursday, April 23, despite the obvious issues presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. So, it once again is time to inundate yourself with draft preview content. Lucky for you, we’re going to provide weekly Patriots mock draft roundups, featuring predictions from preeminent draft experts, so you don’t have to bounce around the internet like a pinball.
Here are the latest Patriots first-round predictions:
Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com: A.J. Epenesa, Edge (Iowa)
The Patriots love size and power on the edges. Epenesa isn’t an elite tester, but he’s a very productive football player.
Peter Schrager, NFL.com: Jeremy Chinn, S (Souther Illinois)
… Capable of playing safety or linebacker, Chinn would be learning from Bill Belichick, the linebacker corps, the McCourty brothers and Patrick Chung, and could be used in a variety of ways.
Mel Kiper, ESPN: Jordan Love, QB (Utah State)
… At 6-foot-4, Love has all the traits that teams look for in a starter, but his 2019 stats — 20 TD passses, 17 INTs — will scare off some. I don’t put much stock in it because of all of the talent (and an entire coaching staff) that he lost from the 2018 season, when he had 32 TD passes and six INTs. It’s tough to know whether Bill Belichick is going to treat the season as a rebuild, but taking Love makes sense either way.
Todd McShay, ESPN: A.J. Epenesa, Edge (Iowa)
… LSU’s K’Lavon Chaisson is the better player, but Belichick has a strong relationship with Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, and Epenesa fits nicely with the Patriots’ 3-4 system as a 5-technique.
Dane Brugler, The Athletic: A.J. Epenesa, Edge (Iowa)
Count Bill Belichick as one of the key decision-makers in the NFL who will trust the tape over subpar combine numbers. And that could potentially help a player like Epenesa, who didn’t shine during the athletic testing in Indianapolis, but his heavy hands and pass rush savvy helps him reach the pocket.
Walter Cherepinsky, WalterFootball: Xavier McKinney, S (Alabama)
I’ve been mocking Jake Fromm to the Patriots in this spot or quite some time, but given how much Fromm struggled at the combine, New England might be able to obtain him in the third round. If Bill Belichick believes that to be true, he could opt for a safety like Xavier McKinney, who is the perfect safety for Bill Belichick’s scheme.
Matt Miller, Bleacher Report: Yetur Gross-Matos, Edge (Penn State)
Yetur Gross-Matos is an impressive person and player. He has the size (6’5″, 266 lbs) to play 4-3 defensive end right out of the gate and will remind fans of Trey Flowers with his mixture of power and quickness. He’s also just scratching the surface of what he can be down the road with good coaching—something he’ll get plenty of in New England.