There’s nothing that says Bill Belichick has to choose a quarterback in Round 1.
Although there’s been plenty of speculation about whether New England will select a QB at No. 15 overall, or perhaps even trade up to secure one of the top signal-callers available, The Athletic’s Dane Brugler believes the Patriots ultimately will land a quarterback in the second round.
Brugler put together a full seven-round mock draft — 259 picks! — that The Athletic published Wednesday. The NFL draft analyst projected five quarterbacks will go in the top nine: Trevor Lawrence (No. 1 to the Jacksonville Jaguars), Zach Wilson (No. 2 to the New York Jets), Mac Jones (No. 3 to the San Francisco 49ers), Trey Lance (No. 4 to the Atlanta Falcons) and Justin Fields (No. 9 to the Denver Broncos).
He has the Patriots selecting Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins with their first pick at No. 15.
“With his athletic versatility at 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds, Collins is a very Patriots-like prospect and a great match in New England’s scheme,” Brugler wrote. “His value as a cover man, blitzer and run-and-chase pursuit player has Bill Belichick written all over it.”
As for New England’s next QB? Brugler pointed to Davis Mills of Stanford, chosen with the 46th overall pick in Round 2.
“If the Patriots are unable to trade up for a quarterback in the first round, Mills would be an interesting Plan B on Day 2 of the draft,” Brugler wrote. “Despite a small sample size and a history of knee issues, Mills has NFL starting talent.”
Here is the Patriots’ full draft haul, per Brugler’s extensive mock draft:
Round 1 (No. 15): Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
Round 2 (No. 46): Davis Mills, QB, Stanford
Round 3 (No. 96): Tylan Wallace, WR, Oklahoma State
Round 4 (No. 120): Benjamin St-Juste, CB, Minnesota
Round 4 (No. 122): Hamsah Nasirildeen, DS, Florida State
Round 4 (No. 139): Marvin Wilson, DT, Florida State
Round 5 (No. 177): Jordan Smith, EDGE, UAB
Round 6 (No. 188): Jose Borregales, PK, Miami
Round 6 (No. 197): Chris Evans, RB, Michigan
Round 7 (No. 242): Landon Young, OT, Kentucky
The Mills pick obviously would draw the most attention as the Patriots search for their next franchise quarterback one year after Tom Brady’s departure. But the Wallace selection would be interesting, too, as New England added wide receivers Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne in free agency but still could use help at the position, especially in wake of Julian Edelman’s retirement.
All in all, the Patriots will be one of the most fascinating teams to watch in this year’s draft, in large part because there’s so much unpredictability in how they’ll approach their picks. This particular mock draft obviously has them addressing a wide range of positions.