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Lazar's Mock Draft 2.0: Making the Case for the Patriots to Trade Down in the First Round

Let's explore the possibilities for the Patriots if they decide to trade down from the third overall pick in this year's draft. 

Penn St. OT Olumuyiwa Fashanu and Texas WR Adonai Mitchell
Penn St. OT Olumuyiwa Fashanu and Texas WR Adonai Mitchell

The Patriots are in a position as an organization where the most obvious thing to do with the third overall pick seems like the right thing to do: select a franchise-caliber quarterback.

The Patriots should stick and pick either quarterback Jayden Daniels or Drake Maye with their first-round pick from this perspective. However, it's worth exploring other options during these mock draft exercises. Plus, when head coach Jerod Mayo gave this quote at the league meetings last month, it's clear that these conversations are going on in the building as well:

"Honestly, the guaranteed way to win is to accumulate more picks. So, if we don't feel convicted at number three, we are willing to do that [trade the pick] as well," Mayo said. "If someone offers a bag, as we would say, a lot of first-round picks, we definitely have to talk about those things."

With an offense that needs talent in multiple areas, Mayo sees the logic in trading down to accumulate assets so the roster can better support the quarterback. Obviously, that means kicking the can down the road on acquiring a quarterback with high-end traits. But without any blue-chip talent at wide receiver and a massive void at left tackle, would the Patriots first-round quarterback be able to succeed in this environment?

Along those same lines, the Patriots could set themselves up with a war chest of picks over the next few drafts to stack talent on the roster. Eventually, they'll be in a better position to take a swing at a top quarterback prospect in the first round or could be competitive with functional quarterback play propped up by a loaded supporting cast.

We aren't advocating for the Patriots to trade down. Still, rather than giving you another Daniels or Maye at No. 3 mock, which you've probably read 1,000 times at this point, there's an argument to be made that it's a viable path forward for New England. So, let's discuss.

Here is a second attempt at a seven-round Patriots mock draft with less than three weeks until the draft:

TRADE: Patriots trade No. 3 to Vikings for No. 11, No. 23, and a 2025 First Round Pick

Patriots fans might want the framework for a trade-down to more closely resemble recent deals made by the Texans and 49ers. However, it's important to remember that the Vikings first-rounders in this draft hold more value than future first-round picks. By getting the picks this year, the Pats get immediate contributors while knowing where in the round those picks fall.

Minnesota should improve with a franchise quarterback presumably their target with the third overall draft choice, so their picks in 2025 and 2026 might lose value. The Patriots get a strong offer here to move down eight spots, where they can still make significant strides to upgrade their supporting cast offensively to improve their overall roster talent rather than expecting a quarterback at No. 3 overall to be their franchise savior.

1 (11)
Height: 6-6 | Weight: 312

At one point, Fashanu seemed like a lock in the top 10 as a prototypical franchise left tackle prospect with the ideal size (6-6, 312, 34-inch arms), movement skills, and a stout anchor that project nicely to the next level. However, it's very possible that we now see four quarterbacks (J.J. McCarthy being the fourth), three wide receivers, OT1 Joe Alt, TE1 Brock Bowers, and Alabama edge rusher Dallas Turner make up the top 10.

If that's the case, the Pats reap the benefit of a fourth quarterback entering the conversation as a stud left tackle prospect falls into their lap after trading down. Fashanu needs to clean up his technique in the run game, and the Ohio State tape might scare off some teams (six QB pressures allowed). However, the Penn State product is a ready-made blindside protector with elite upside, particularly if he can improve his pad level and footwork in the run game.

1 (23)
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 205

We've been on the Adonai Mitchell train since before the combine because he checks every box for a high-end outside receiver prospect. Mitchell's athletic profile is elite with a 9.99 out of 10 relative athletic score after posting a 4.34-second 40-yard dash and a 39.5-inch vertical jump at 6-2, 205 pounds. Unfortunately, his combine testing likely put him in the first round conversation, rather than an option at No. 34 as some originally thought (like me in the tweet below).

Mitchell is more than just an elite combine tester, though. On film, he runs routes like a much smaller receiver and has the size, body control, and verticality to win above the rim. Mitchell routinely creates separation on in-breaking routes with smooth transitions through the break point on slants and dig routes at the first two levels. He's also an excellent double move artist to open up that 4.34 speed after selling the break to create oodles of separation for explosive plays. Mitchell needs to play to his timed speed consistently, but his athletic profile and route-running ability suggest he'll only get better. My pro comparison is Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. – Mitchell can be a high-volume X receiver.

2 (34)
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 214

Although they passed on it early, it's too glaring a need at the most important position on the roster to punt on the quarterback entirely in the 2024 draft. The Patriots could go with a more exciting playmaker in Spencer Rattler on day two. But with the other pieces in place offensively after the trade down, selecting a pro-ready passer with a high floor makes sense.

Nix's game won't get you out of your seat. Still, he's an accurate, on-time passer with enough physical tools to buy into him being a capable starter. Nix is at his best layering throws into the middle of the field and operating in the quick-game/RPO elements of Oregon's offense. He's not an aggressive downfield thrower, but he has enough arm talent to take the deep opportunities that present themselves. Nix is also a capable runner who can add yards on scrambles and operate in moving pockets.

The comparisons for Nix are often game managers such as Alex Smith or Andy Dalton. If that's what he becomes with an improving supporting cast, the Patriots can win games with Nix.

3 (68)
Height: 6-1 | Weight: 189

After selecting an athletically gifted outside receiver in the first round, the Patriots aren't done at wide receiver in a loaded class. With so much talent on the board and an extra pick from the trade, it's a perfect opportunity to double dip and address the talent void at receiver one and for all.

Pearsall is an excellent complement to Mitchell as a primary slot receiver who can also play in the Z role with some exposure to the outside. Although there are key differences in their games, watching slick Rick, his nickname due to his technical savvy and devastating cuts, will give you Julian Edelman vibes. He's not as fiery as Edelman and has better hands, but they move similarly.

Pearsall is an excellent athlete with 4.41 speed to separate horizontally on crossing routes, has jitterbug quickness to get open underneath, and has no issues operating in high-traffic areas. The Florida product has the makings of a chain-moving machine that will pair nicely with Mitchell and Nix.

4 (102)
Height: 5-10 | Weight: 197

The Patriots defense held up well given key injuries to Christian Gonzalez and Matthew Judon, while also transitioning from the Devin McCourty era last season. Although they're good players, Kyle Dugger and Jabrill Peppers aren't natural centerfielders. They still feel redundant as a pair, which makes finding that true single-high safety a need so the puzzle pieces fit together.

Taylor-Demerson is likely a top-100 talent based on his tape. However, his smaller frame (5-10, 197) and the offensive talent in this class could see him fall to early day three. The Texas Tech product makes up for lacking size with excellent instincts, ball skills, and play speed (4.41s) to be a starting free safety with the flexibility to play nickel. Taylor-Demerson could be the Duron Harmon to this group stylistically, with better playmaking instincts to make plays on the ball over the top.

5 (136)
Height: 6-4 | Weight: 297

When you turn on the tape of Alabama's defense, Eboigbe stands out as a prototypical Patriots defensive end. He's a sturdy, long power end with noticeable pop in his hands to hold his ground in the run game. He has enough push in his bull rush to offer some early-down pass rush. After moving on from veteran Lawrence Guy this offseason, the Patriots need to maintain their depth on the defensive front. Eboigbe should fit in nicely as an early-down odd front two-gapper in their system.

6 (179)
Height: 5-10 | Weight: 207

Another sneaky area of need for the Patriots this offseason is running back, where there wasn't much proven NFL talent behind Rhamondre Stevenson. New England added versatile speed-back Antonio Gibson in free agency, mitigating the need for a change-of-pace runner. However, another early-down ball carrier to compete with Kevin Harris for RB3 with an eye toward a contract year for Stevenson makes sense.

Although he's undersized for the role, Edwards fits the mold as a strong between-the-tackles runner with good contact balance and smooth lateral cuts to navigate in the trenches. Edwards can get a bit wild sometimes with his reads and decisions, but he's got the necessary power behind his pads and feel for inside runs to make up for some warts.

6 (192)
Height: 6-6 | Weight: 249

The Patriots passed on a stacked tight end class a year ago when they had a need at the position, so that hole is still there in 2024. They have veterans Hunter Henry and Austin Hooper for this season. But you'd still like to see New England add a young prospect to the room with upside, either as an in-line blocker or receiver with time to develop behind the vets.

Wiley screams Green Bay Packers tight end, de facto GM Eliot Wolf's roots as a scout, because of his size (6-6, 249 pounds), athletic profile (9.26 RAS), and receiving production in college (520 yards, 8 TDs in 2023). Wiley isn't a big blocker at this stage and doesn't offer much wiggle in YAC mode. But he has the frame to become stouter at the point of attack with solid technique already, and he's a natural pass-catcher with noticeable acceleration into seams and crossers. The Patriots are reportedly hosting Wiley on a "30" visit.

7 (231)
Height: 6-1 | Weight: 187

The Patriots select another kicker with their final pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. Yes, a kicker. After taking him in the fourth round last year, second-year kicker Chad Ryland had a rough rookie season, making only 64% of his field goal attempts. New England brings in some late-round competition for Ryland in what is essentially a glorified UDFA selection at this point in the draft. Reichard went 5-for-5 on kicks from 50-plus yards for the Crimson Tide in 2023.

DISCLAIMER: The views and thoughts expressed in this article are those of the writer and don't necessarily reflect those of the organization. Read Full Disclaimer

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