The New England Patriots move around the draft board, add two quarterbacks and take players from familiar programs in our fourth and final seven-round mock before Thursday’s 2021 NFL Draft.
Here’s who we came away with in our best guess at what the Patriots will do this weekend:
Round 1, Pick 15: OL Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC
We believe Vera-Tucker is the most likely pick here at No. 15 overall. Someone could fall, and the Patriots could trade up (Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith? Alabama quarterback Mac Jones?) or down (Miami defensive end Jaelan Phillips? Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins?), but Vera-Tucker is our best guess at who New England will grab in the first round.
Like Patriots left tackle Isaiah Wynn, Vera-Tucker is an undersized offensive lineman who played both guard and tackle in college. He would give the Patriots flexibility moving forward if Trent Brown leaves in free agency next season or if New England has a rash of injuries on its offensive line this season.
Most NFL teams would probably only consider Vera-Tucker at guard because of his short arms. The Patriots seemingly care less about length at offensive tackle than most teams, so don’t be surprised if they move him around their line.
Round 2, Pick 46: TRADE
The Patriots will send the 46th overall pick and their third-round pick (96th overall) to the Washington Football Team for the 51st and 82nd overall picks.
Round 2, Pick 51: S Jevon Holland, Oregon
This is where we would probably take a quarterback (maybe Florida’s Kyle Trask?). Instead, we’ll trade a conditional 2022 second-round pick to the San Francisco 49ers for Jimmy Garoppolo.
As for Holland, it wouldn’t be a Patriots draft without taking a defensive back in the second round.
New England grabbed Kyle Dugger in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Dugger best fits in at Patrick Chung’s old strong safety role. Holland, who opted out for the 2020 NCAA season, could eventually replace Devin McCourty at free safety.
TRADE: The Patriots will send their 82nd and 120th overall picks to the Jacksonville Jaguars for the 65th overall pick.
Round 3, Pick 65: LB Baron Browning, Ohio State
Browning was still available, so we moved up to grab the uber-athletic Buckeyes linebacker. He’s a bit of a project, but he has ideal size for a Patriots linebacker at 6-foot-3, 245 pounds, and he’s a tremendous athlete. With the right coaching, Browning could fit into the Patriots’ defense similar to Jamie Collins.
Round 4, Pick 122: CB Ambry Thomas, Michigan
The Patriots have dipped into the Michigan well three times over the last two drafts. Thomas has ideal size and athleticism for New England but opted out for the 2020 season.
Round 5, Pick 177: RB Chris Evans, Michigan
Another Michigan man, Evans has the potential to be one of the top pass-catching running backs in the draft.
Round 6, Pick 188: DT Tedarrell Slaton, Florida
Slaton was a top recruit who never quite lived up to his four-star billing at Florida. At 6-foot-4, 330 pounds, Slaton has the ideal build for a nose tackle and comes with decent speed (5.09-second 40-yard dash) for his size.
Round 6, Pick 197: QB Feleipe Franks, Arkansas
Why not? Franks took a massive leap forward as a senior with the Razorbacks after three disappointing seasons with Florida.
At 6-foot-7, 234-pound frame, Franks runs a 4.59-second 40-yard dash. The hope here is that New England could sneak him onto the practice squad and see how they can develop him in the future.
Round 7, Pick 242: TE/P Zach Davidson, Central Missouri
You read that correctly. Davidson was a tight end and the Mules’ top punter at Central Missouri. He’s also one of the best athletes among 2021 tight end draft prospects.
He caught 40 passes for 894 yards with 15 touchdowns in 2019. Central Missouri’s 2020 season was canceled because of COVID-19.