It’s time to join the club.
Seemingly every New England mock draft spotted from Nantucket (we see you, Nike) to the Hoosac Range has come with the caveat that the Patriots must pull off a big trade to secure their quarterback of the future Thursday night.
Same story here, as this exercise also calls for the six-time Super Bowl champions to grab a young signal caller. There’s a plot twist in this tale, however.
In this scenario, Bill Belichick doesn’t trade up for one of the Fab Five. Instead, the Patriots boss trades back to increase his assets and still get his man.
In this proposed deal, the only one of the draft for New England, the Patriots swap their first-rounder (No. 15) for the Packers’ (No. 29) and also obtain Green Bay’s second-round selection (No. 62).
While the Cheeseheads get a wide receiver to placate Aaron Rodgers, their MVP quarterback, the Patriots are able to address their biggest needs in the first two rounds.
First round, No. 29 overall: Davis Mills, QB, Stanford
Mills is considered a second-rounder by most prognosticators, but the Patriots are proactive, grabbing him at the end of the first. The rationale is simple: Why not keep the most important player under control for a minimum of seven years — five-year rookie deal plus franchise tag possibilities?
Davis is inexperienced, with just 11 starts for the Cardinal, but checks a lot of positive boxes. He’s big (6 feet 4 inches, 220 pounds), has perhaps the quickest release in this QB class, and possesses a strong, accurate arm and underrated athleticism. He’s Mac Jones without the Mac Jones hype.
Most importantly, he’s smart and unflappable. For a nice encapsulation of his career, flip on the tape of Stanford’s double OT win over UCLA in 2020 when Mills threw two TDs in the final 2:34 of regulation just to force extras.
Second round, No. 46: Amari Rodgers, WR, Clemson
A little ball of muscle, this 5-10, 210-pounder could slot right into the slot with his quick-area burst, sure hands, and competitive nature. He has drawn comparisons to Deebo Samuel because of his propensity to break tackles and pick up yards after the catch.
Second round, No. 62: Ambry Thomas, CB, Michigan
Belichick places a call to Ann Arbor for a defender for the third straight year and comes away with a physical corner who can learn the schemes while providing insurance should Stephon Gilmore and/or J.C. Jackson leave sooner rather than later. Thomas (6-0, 185) is aggressive in coverage and run support, though sometimes it gets him in trouble.
Third round, No. 96: Michael Carter, RB, North Carolina
Perhaps a tad early for a back, but this waterbug really stood out during Senior Bowl week following an excellent senior season (156 carries, 1,245 yards). He has a patient running style (think Le’Veon Bell) and really turns on the jets when he sees his path. Solid receiver, too. Bonus: He gets to learn from James White.
Fourth round, No. 120: Dillon Radunz, OT, North Dakota State
With Trent Brown and Isaiah Wynn on short-term deals, tackle is a need spot, and Radunz (6-5, 300) fits the bill. An underrated athlete who has the frame to bulk up, he was one of the top performers of Senior Bowl week, which helped negate the small-school label. He’s a search-and-destroy bruiser.
Fourth round, No. 122: Jimmy Morrissey, C, Pitt
A smart tactician who plays with excellent leverage and hand placement. He played center and both guard spots in the Senior Bowl after receiving an emergency invite just 25 hours before the game. Got the call Friday, drove from Pensacola to Mobile, took a COVID test, read the playbook for three hours, slept, woke up, and played in the game. Kid’s a savage.
Fourth round, No. 139: Dayo Odeyingbo, DL, Vanderbilt
Might need a redshirt year after tearing his Achilles’ tendon in January, but could be a real steal down the line. At 6-5, 285 pounds, he can be a force off the edge but also bulk up a tad and be an inside pass-rushing demon.
Fifth round, No. 177: Simi Fehoko, WR, Stanford
An athletic freak, the 6-3, 227-pounder has exceptional speed and versatility, as he lined up all over the Cardinal offense. Made some astounding catches but had some confounding drops as well. Could use a developmental year with his buddy, Davis Mills.
Sixth round, No. 188: Daelin Hayes, DE, Notre Dame
Kind of an unsung hero on an Irish defense that had a bunch of more well-known stars. Hayes (6-3, 253) can rush the passer (9 sacks) but really shines as an edge-setter in the run game, something the Patriots really value.
Sixth round, No. 197: Racey McMath, WR, LSU
Another receiver? But wait, there’s a twist here. McMath’s initial value will come on special teams, where he can flash his speed — he clocked an absurd 4.34 40 at his pro day — and physicality. Matthew Slater and Justin Bethel will mold him into the gunner of the future. If he catches anything, it’s gravy.
Seventh round, No. 242: Brady Breeze, S, Oregon
A smart and instinctive player with a nonstop motor, the 6-foot, 197-pounder was rarely out of position (and always around the ball), and rarely missed an assignment or tackle. Coverage skills are adequate; he might be best used near the box. And his name is Brady.