New England Patriots Big Board: Rounds 1-3

This Patriots mock draft will examine team needs and how New England can meet them in April’s 2020 NFL Draft

1st Round (23rd Overall)

Trade with Seattle (receives 23rd Overall in exchange for 59th and 64th Overall Picks) – Trading out of a 1st round pick in order to receive a greater number of 2nd, 3rd, and 4th round picks is a New England tradition. Belichick to move out of the first round in exchange for a team’s 2nd and 3rd round picks, in the case of the Seattle Seahawks, who are in desperate need of offensive line help. If the Patriots do decide to pick at 23, they may have the choice of Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert.

2nd Round (59th Overall – trade with Seattle)

Jake Fromm QB, Georgia – If you asked me a year ago why the Patriots need to draft a quarterback, my answer would’ve landed somewhere in the realm of Tom Brady losing the battle with Father Time and retiring from football.

My answer wouldn’t consider Tom Brady leaving in free agency. The reality is the man with six Super Bowl rings and three MVP awards with the team does not feel he is making top dollar for his accomplishments. While I sit idle waiting for Tom Brady to make his decision, I look at alternative options for Bill Belichick as the Patriots prepare to enter a post-Brady era.

A name I circle back to is Georgia’s Jake Fromm, an efficient arm talent with an underwhelming season with the Bulldogs that caused his draft stock to fall. He did not plummet, but many teams now view him as second-round pick.

Fromm has a huge upside and is a proven winner, guiding Georgia to the National Championship in 2017 and remaining in the playoff conversation in each of his three seasons at Georgia. Fromm comes into the draft with 78 touchdowns to 18 interceptions and 8,224 yards passing with leadership skills and a will to win. Tom Brady’s plans for the 2020 season are still up in the air and I can imagine Bill will jump at the opportunity to start rebuilding in earnest.

3rd Round Pick (64th Overall)

Cole Kmet TE, Notre Dame – Let’s face it: the Patriots haven’t recovered since losing Hall of Fame tight end Rob Gronkowski to retirement. We saw the effects of poor tight end play that stifled a great Patriots offense in the second half of the season.

It’s a known fact that receiving tight ends are a staple of the modern NFL offense. The four teams in the conference championship this past season featured pass-catching tight ends: Travis Kelce for Kansas City, George Kittle for the 49ers, Jimmy Graham for the Packers, and Jonnu Smith for the Titans.

The Patriots need an explosive tight end that the quarterback can find for a difficult catch in traffic and run with three defenders trying to bring him down. That guy for the Patriots is Cole Kmet of the Notre Dame. Kmet ended 2019 with six touchdowns, 515 yards receiving and 12 yards per reception, projecting as a Gronk Lite for Bill Belichick and the Patriots.

3rd Round Pick (87th Overall)

Troy Pride Jr. CB, Notre Dame – For a team that is looking to keep a 42-year-old Tom Brady in Foxboro, they should look into improving a defense with numerous players becoming free agents (Devin McCourty, Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, John Simon).

Pride Jr. enters the 2020 Draft with 40 Total Tackles and an interception, an anchor of the Irish defense. As a tackling cornerback, Pride Jr. is a logical pickup for a defense that expects major personnel changes next season, though cornerback is not a main positional need.

3rd Round Pick (Compensatory Pick for Trey Flowers DE, projected 91-103 Overall)

Thaddeus Moss TE, LSU – Here me out: in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Patriots drafted Arizona tight end Rob Gronkowski, a senior returning from injury, in the second round.

As insurance for Gronkowski, New England drafted Florida tight end Aaron Hernandez. The pair would go on to dominate the NFL and help the Patriots reach Super Bowl XLVI in the 2011 season.

As for pedigree, Thaddeus Moss is the son of legendary wide receiver and former Patriot Randy Moss. Thaddeus was a key contributor to the LSU Tigers team that won the 2020 National Championship, picking up four touchdowns, 570 yards receiving and 12.1 yards per reception.

Moss will need surgery before the Draft and will mix 6-8 weeks, so his draft stock will understandably go down. I see it as another high risk/high reward for a team desperate for production at the position.

3rd Round Pick (Compensatory Pick for Trent Brown OT, projected 91-103 Overall)

Ben Bredeson OL, Michigan – With starting left guard Joe Thuney almost certain to leave in free agency and the uncertain health of former starting center David Andrews, New England needs an immediate replacement.

Ben Bredeson acting as the Joe Thuney replacement makes the most sense as the Patriots need to fix their offensive line to protect Tom Brady or the next quarterback.

Jake Gartley is a staff writer for The Comment.

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