The 2020 NFL Draft starts a week from Thursday, and “experts” still can’t agree on what the New England Patriots will do with the No. 23 pick.
(Shocking, we know.)
When we gave you our Patriots mock draft roundup last week, three insiders had New England selecting Iowa Edge rusher A.J. Epenesa in the first round. A week later, one expert — The Athletic’s Dane Bruglar — has replaced Epenesa, while others, such as Peter Schrager and Mel Kiper, also have shifted course since their last mock drafts.
Here are the latest Patriots first-round predictions:
(Note: Neither Daniel Jeremiah, Todd McShay nor Matt Miller have published new mocks in the past week, but we nevertheless shared their most recent 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: Harrison Bryant, TE (FAU)
First time you’ve seen Bryant’s name in the first round of a mock draft? Don’t be shocked — I can see it happening. New England has tried to get Jared Cook and Hayden Hurst in back-to-back offseasons, with no success. Bryant is a big body who can both catch balls and block. He isn’t Gronk, but no one is. What he can be is a building block for whomever Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels groom to be the QB of the future.
Mel Kiper, ESPN: Zack Baun, OLB (Wisonsin)
It’s really tough to predict what Bill Belichick is going to do in a draft, but we know that he likes versatile front-seven pieces. That’s Baun, who broke out for the Badgers last season with 12.5 sacks and 19.5 total tackles for loss. The Patriots lost linebackers Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins and Elandon Roberts in free agency, so Baun fills a need. Since it appears New England is happy with Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer at quarterback, I’ll stay away from that position.
More Draft: Full List Of Every Pick For All Seven Rounds
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: Marlon Davidson, DL (Auburn)
Some NFL scouts see Davidson as a ?Jumbo? end while others see a penetrating three-technique. I?m guessing Bill Belichick sees a natural disruptor who offers inside-outside versatility in his front. His balance and hand use allow him to shake free from blockers.
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.