Patriots seven-round mock draft: Shakeup in the secondary
In order to shake things up a bit in our third and final mock draft of the pre-draft season -- you can find our first two here and here -- we went ahead and made a trade for the Patriots.
In a move silimar to the one they pulled off involving Chandler Jones last year, in this mock draft the Patriots dealt Malcolm Butler to the Saints in order to pick up some draft capital. But instead of receiving the No. 32 pick overall in return, Bill Belichick pulled in a haul of picks that provided nearly equal value: No. 42 overall (second round), No. 103 (third round) and No. 196 overall (sixth round).
That deal bumped the total number of Patriots selections from six to nine, and by picking up a second-rounder they gave themselves an opportunity at a top-end talent.
SECOND ROUND, NO. 42 OVERALL (FROM NEW ORLEANS): MARCUS MAYE, S, FLORIDA
From our Prototypical Patriots series: Maye looks like the best fit for the Patriots among the players at this position. At 6-feet, 210 pounds, he isn't the most eye-popping athlete, but he checks just about every mark that Patriots safeties have in the recent past with a 4.5-second 40, a 33.5-inch vertical, a 118-inch broad jump and a 7.1-second three-cone drill. Touted as the leader of his team's talent-laden secondary and one of the draft's best tacklers -- only missed one tackle last season, per Pro Football Focus -- Maye seems ideally suited for a role that would allow him to cover in the slot, play against the run, and occasionally patrol the back end of the Patriots secondary. NFL.com has him pegged as a second-rounder.
THIRD ROUND, NO. 72 OVERALL (FROM CAROLINA): SHAQUILL GRIFFIN, CB, CENTRAL FLORIDA
From our Prototypical Patriots series: Griffin (6-feet, 194) is a first-round caliber athlete who could come off the board later thanks to all the talent in this year's crop. He was a top-five corner at the combine when it came to the 40 (4.38 seconds), the 60-yard shuttle (11.62 seconds), the vertical (38.5 inches) and the broad jump (132 inches). He was a top-10 performer in the three-cone drill (6.87 seconds), 20-yard shuttle (4.14 seconds). He had four picks and 15 pass breakups last season and is thought to be a dependable tackler. Even if he can't find the field defensively early on, his aggressive style and athleticism could make him an early special-teams contributor. Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio reportedly worked him out in the days leading up to the draft.
THIRD ROUND, NO. 96 OVERALL: TARELL BASHAM, DE, OHIO
From our Prototypical Patriots series: Should the Patriots find Basham is available in the third, they'll have an opportunity to bolster their rotation on the edge with a player who resembles Kony Ealy in many respects. Both check in at 6-foot-4 and about 270 pounds. Both have 34-inch arms. Both tested similarly at their respective combines in the 20-yard shuttle and the jumps. Basham is not yet a polished pass-rusher, but he's a max-effort guy who earned himself Defensive Player of the Year honors in the MAC. When given an opportunity to play better competition -- against Tennessee during the season and then at the Senior Bowl -- his explosive power to get into the backfield and set a strong edge continued to stand out. The Patriots recently had Basham in for a visit, and Bill Belichick worked him out at Ohio University earlier in the pre-draft process.
THIRD ROUND, NO. 103 OVERALL (FROM NEW ORLEANS): ANTONIO GARCIA, T, TROY
From our Prototypical Patriots series: The Patriots have taken projects at tackle in the past. Sebastian Vollmer entered college as a 250-pound tight end who eventually made the move to tackle, but even then he rarely had his hand on the ground in Houston's pass-happy offense. Garcia (6-foot-6, 300 pounds) may be seen in a similar light as showed great athleticism to mirror pass-rushers in college -- he did not allow a sack in 2016, per Pro Football Focus -- but is still raw as a run-blocker. Athletically he seems to meet New England's requirements with a 5.15 40-yard dash, a 31-inch vertical and a 108-inch broad jump. He visited the Patriots late in the run-up to the draft.
FOURTH ROUND, NO. 131 OVERALL: GEORGE KITTLE, TE, IOWA
From our Prototypical Patriots series: I've mentioned Kittle (6-foot-3, 247 pounds) on just about every platform we have here at CSN: mock drafts, podcasts, Boston Sports Tonight. It's a healthy obsession. And there's a reason for it. At this position he's the clear-cut best fit for the Patriots in this class, in my opinion. Part of the reason for that is because he's expected to go in the middle rounds, and that's where the Patriots have picks. But it's mostly because of what he can do on the field. He's more than athletic enough -- 4.52-second 40, 35-inch vertical, 132-inch broad jump -- to create space in opposing secondaries. He was also an impactful run-blocker for the Hawkeyes under head coach Kirk Ferentz (a former assistant to Bill Belichick in Cleveland) and Ferentz's son Brian, who once served as the tight ends coach in New England. The Patriots will know that Kittle's been taught the fundamentals properly. And they'll know that if they get a good recommendation from the Ferentz family, they can count on it.
FIFTH ROUND, NO. 183 OVERALL: BRANDON WILSON, CB, HOUSTON
From our Prototypical Patriots series: This is another prospect who made his way to Gillette Stadium recently for a visit, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. No surprise there. Why? He was a three-way player for the Cougars, and some experts believe he's such a good athlete that he has the ability to contribute at any or all of those spots at the next level. He had one of the more impressive pro-day workouts in the nation this year, running a 4.36-second 40-yard dash, jumping 41 inches in the vertical, 133 inches in the broad jump and benching 225 pounds 24 times -- eye-popping numbers for a 5-foot-10, 198-pound human being. Even if he never cracks the top of the depth chart at any of the positions listed here, he's so fast and explosive that he would seem to be a natural covering kicks. The Patriots may be even more focused than usual on the kicking game in this year's draft as both Matthew Slater and Nate Ebner hit contract years in 2017.
SIXTH ROUND, NO. 196 OVERALL (FROM NEW ORLEANS): SAMSON EBUKAM, LB, EASTERN WASHINGTON
From our Prototypical Patriots series: Ebukam (6-foot-3, 240 pounds) has the size and explosiveness to potentially serve in a variety of roles for the Patriots. Some believe he's destined to become an edge rusher due to his burst (had a vertical leap of 39 inches and a sub 4.5 40-yard dash at his pro day), but he has the size (No. 3 pictured) that the Patriots like in their off-the-ball 'backers. Still raw, it may take the Nigerian-born, Oregon-raised Ebukam a year or so before he'll be ready to handle responsibilities given to him defensively. But on special teams? That's where the rare combination of his frame and movement skills could flash immediately. At this point in the draft, a high-upside defender with ready-made kick-coverage ability seems like a perfect match for the Patriots.
SIXTH ROUND, NO. 200 OVERALL: RUDY FORD, CB, AUBURN
From our Prototypical Patriots series: Ford (5-foot-11, 205 pounds) has the length (30-inch arms) and strength (20 reps of 225 pounds) to sort through crowds near the line of scrimmage and stop ball-carriers in their tracks. Combine his thirst for contact with his speed (4.34-second 40-yard dash at his pro day), and he looks like an immediate contributor on special teams. A three-year starter and versatile option in Auburn's secondary, he played some safety in addition to his responsibilities in the slot. He also helped return kicks as well as cover them for the Tigers.
SEVENTH ROUND, NO. 239 OVERALL: JOSH AUGUSTA, DT, MISSOURI
From our Prototypical Patriots series: While speaking about Alan Branch last season, Belichick said, "Guys that weigh 350 pounds and are athletic and long like he is, I mean they don’t grow on trees. They’re hard to find." Augusta (6-foot-4, 347 pounds) wasn't even considered a starter during his last season at Missouri, but his unique size and quick feet (he was used as a fullback at times by the Tigers) might make him worthy of a selection late on draft weekend. He weighed closer to 400 pounds last fall, but according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he was diagnosed with a thyroid issue in January but has shed weight since, which helped him post a 5.12-second 40 time (which some had clocked as a sub-5.0 time), a 28.5-inch vertical, a 108-inch broad jump and a 7.9-second three-cone at his pro day. Though he only played about 50 percent of his team's snaps the last two seasons, guys like him don't grow on trees. Branch, 32, signed a two-year extension this offseason.