Evan Silva (@EvanSilva) is the Senior Football Editor for Rotoworld's NFL Page, and Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) leads Rotoworld's college football and NFL draft coverage. Together, they're breaking down every team's biggest needs and offering potential draft-day solutions.
For a breakdown on every team, check out the team-by-team draft preview schedule.
Patriots Team Need No. 1: Offensive Tackle
New England’s most glaring hole is left tackle following Nate Solder’s departure. The Patriots’ top in-house option is 2017 third-round pick Antonio Garcia, who missed his entire rookie year with blood clots in his lungs.
Editor’s Note: With over 15,000 reviews, DRAFT is the highest rated fantasy sports app. For a limited time, DRAFT is giving Rotoworld readers a FREE entry into a real money draft and a Money-Back Guarantee up to $100! Here's the link.
Patriots Team Need No. 2: Linebacker
The Patriots’ 2017 linebacker corps got shredded in both pass coverage and run defense. Dont’a Hightower’s return theoretically helps, but he has missed 22 games over the past four seasons with repeated shoulder and knee injuries. As they do at most positions, the Patriots value versatility on the second level of their defense. Moreover, they need to get faster as a team.
Patriots Team Need No. 3: Cornerback
New England used the free agency (Adrian Clayborn) and trade (Danny Shelton) markets to address defensive line weaknesses, and 2017 third-round pick Derek Rivers is a promising edge-rusher prospect who missed his rookie year with a torn ACL. At cornerback, Jason McCourty is a short-term fix entering his age-31 season, and last year’s Pats played musical chairs with Eric Rowe and Jonathan Jones in the slot. After trading away Jimmy Garoppolo, New England may also explore drafting a quarterback to groom behind 41-year-old (in August) Tom Brady and journeyman backup Brian Hoyer.
Norris’ Mock Draft
Round 1 (31): T Kolton Miller, UCLA - The Nate Solder comparisons out of college are easy to see in Miller’s game. He’s one of the best athletes we’ve ever seen at the position. However, a hitch in his drop step puts him behind his opposition. He’s been working with Jeremy Newberry during the draft process and in this scenario, Miller would work with one of the best position coaches in the NFL, Dante Scarnecchia.
Round 2 (43): EDGE Duke Ejiofor, Wake Forest - The Patriots added Adrian Clayborn in free agency and will get Derek Rivers back from injury, a personal favorite. Still, Ejiofor would offer more pass rushing upside, something the Patriots lacked last season. His game mirrors Emmanuel Ogbah a bit and he also has experience rushing from the interior. Ejiofor is coming off a labrum injury.
Round 2 (63): QB Kyle Lauletta, Richmond - The Patriots will try to find their next Jimmy Garoppolo in this draft. It could be Mason Rudolph. It could be Kurt Benkert. But let’s go with Lauletta, who continues to generate plenty of buzz.
Round 3 (95): LB Dorian O’Daniel, Clemson - O’Daniel’s role at Clemson was an interesting one. He spent many snaps in the slot, fighting off blocks and forcing the football back inside. It’s tough to know how his game translates to a true off-ball spot, but I like his aggression and he tested like an above-average athlete.
Round 5 (150): TE Dalton Schultz, Stanford - Dwayne Allen’s contract guarantees expires after the season. Schultz has plenty of inline experience, was often used as a blocker and adjusted to the ball when given the opportunity.
Round 7 (193): CB Jordan Thomas, Oklahoma - 3-cone, 3-cone, 3-cone. Thomas produced a bad workout, and then recorded a record-breaking 6.28 3-cone, perhaps the best ever recorded in Indianapolis.