It’s NFL Mock Draft season now that the Super Bowl is past, and here is a look at the New England Patriots, who will be picking 31st overall in the first round and twice in the second round (the first pick coming via the 49ers in the Jimmy Garoppolo trade).
The Pats have many needs on defense, not so much on offense – though the odds of them picking a quarterback are strong. Expect Brian Hoyer to return next season, but the Pats aren’t totally against carrying three QBs.
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31. Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama – Evans is a terrific athletes with top-level speed. He could be what the Patriots have been missing since trading Jamie Collins as the Pats need a linebacker who can play sideline-to-sideline. Unlike Collins, who went to Southern Mississippi, Evans has a Belichick pedigree already – having played for Nick Saban at Alabama. There is the chance Evans goes earlier in the first round (average mock position is in the mid-20s), but if he falls to the Pats at 31 there’s plenty of reason to believe Belichick will pull the trigger.
43. Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma – Dwayne Allen didn’t work out. Rob Gronkowski is considering retirement, and Martellus Bennett is likely to retire soon.
63. Duke Ejiofor, DE, Wake Forest – Ejiofor is a classic Belichick player in that he has great intellect and perfect technique. He registered 17 sacks over the past two seasons for the Demon Deacons.
95. Kyle Lauletta, QB, Richmond – It’s a good bet the Pats will pick a QB in this draft and if they do, it will likely be in the third or fourth round. Lauletta was the MVP of the Senior Bowl.
159. Brandon Facyson, CB, Virginia Tech - Corner is an obvious need for the Pats, though they haven't hit on them too often in drafts of the past.
191. Justin Jackson, RB, Northwestern - The Pats have several running backs to re-sign this offseason. They may opt to let all of them go and bring in fresh talent.