The New England Patriots were eliminated from the AFC playoff race with last week's loss to the Miami Dolphins, which means it's time to turn our attention to the upcoming offseason.
The most important offseason event for the Patriots will be the 2021 NFL Draft. New England is expected to have 12 picks in the 2021 draft, including projected compensatory selections.
The Patriots are currently slotted at the No. 15 pick in the first round, which would be their highest Round 1 selection since 2011 when they drafted left tackle Nate Solder at No. 17 overall.
There are many positions the Patriots must address through the draft, including two of the most important -- quarterback and wide receiver.
Starting quarterback Cam Newton and his backup, Jarrett Stidham, have both failed to meet expectations this season. Neither player looks like a long-term solution at quarterback, so the Patriots will have to decide whether to upgrade at the position in the draft or make a trade for a veteran.
Wide receiver is perhaps the most glaring issue in New England's offense, though. Jakobi Meyers has enjoyed a solid second season, but he's not a real No. 1 or No. 2 wideout on a contending team. Julian Edelman will be 35 years old when next season begins, and 2019 first-round pick N'Keal Harry has been a draft bust so far. Harry is the only wide receiver the Patriots have drafted in Round 1 since 2000, but it wouldn't be surprising if they targeted that position again in 2021, especially if one of the Alabama stars (Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle) are available.
Which players should New England consider selecting in the upcoming draft? Here's a roundup of Patriots first-round pick predictions from recent expert 2021 NFL mock drafts.
Matt Miller, Bleacher Report: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
Eric Edholm, Yahoo! Sports: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
Ryan Wilson, CBS Sports: Devonta Smith, WR, Alabama
Walter Football: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
Tankathon: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
Glynn Morgan, NBC Sports Chicago: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
Dalton Johnson, Josh Schrock, NBC Sports Bay Area: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
Brian Fonseca, NJ.com: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
Eddie Brown, The San Diego Union-Tribune: Kyle Trask, QB, Florida
Luke Easterling, Draftwire (USA TODAY): Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida