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May 26, 2024
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Seven-round Pats mock draft: Athletic freaks bring offensive facelift

You’ve seen our first-round mock draft — which includes New England grabbing UNC quarterback Drake Maye at No. 3 overall — but what kind of people would we be if we left you on the edge of your seat wondering what happens with the remaining Patriots picks on draft weekend?

The wait is over, friends. Here’s one way in which Days 2 and 3 could play out for Jerod Mayo, Eliot Wolf and the rest of the brain trust over at One Patriot Place.

Round 1 (No. 3 overall): Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina

Highlights of projected Top 5 pick Drake Maye, quarterback for the University of North Carolina

Head to our first-round mock draft for a full breakdown on why Maye is the pick for New England at No. 3.

Round 2 (No. 34 overall): Kingsley Suamataia, OT, BYU

Highlights of offensive tackle Kingsley Suamataia from BYU

Just because Suamataia didn’t land in the first round in this scenario doesn’t mean he lacks first-round traits. He has the length (34.25-inch arms) and athleticism (elite 9.38 Relative Athletic Score) to qualify for this exercise. His 10-yard split (1.73 seconds) and broad jump (9-foot-2) are signs that he’s a particularly coordinated and explosive mover, which you can see in this clip where he’s working as the left tackle against Texas. 

For a Patriots team that could be emphasizing zone running, a player like Suamataia with those kinds of in-space movement skills could be a tremendous fit. Even if they wanted to trade up into the bottom of the first round to nab him, it might not be a bad idea, since he seems to provide that which executives who’ve worked under Ron Wolf have favored in the past.

If Suamataia does end up getting chosen in the first round, then perhaps that opens this pick up to be available via trade (for 49ers receiver Brandon Aiyuk, for instance?). Or perhaps taking one of the better bigger-bodied receivers in this class like Florida State’s Keon Coleman is an option.

“Doesn’t have elite speed and needs to be more consistent, but has an edge that I like,” said one NFC evaluator of Coleman.

But at tackle, the odds are better of finding a capable player at this position in the second round than it is in the third. That’s why the Patriots go tackle here and hope to strike gold at wideout later. 

Patrick Paul, another one of our seven tackles to earn Prototypical Patriots recognition, could be an option here as well. If the team wanted to wait, Notre Dame’s Blake Fisher (who was Wally Pipped at left tackle by Joe Alt in South Bend) or TCU’s Brandon Coleman are potential third-round options here.

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Round 3 (No. 68 overall): Malachi Corley, WR, Western Kentucky

Highlights of WKU wide receiver Malachi Corley

Corley is the only player on this list who didn’t make our Prototypical Patriots list this offseason. He’s not huge (5-foot-11, 207 pounds). He’s not one of the fastest 40-yard dashers in the class (4.56 seconds). But he’s tough. And he’ll run through your face if you’re not careful. This would be a statement pick — something that in a way shows the kind of style the Patriots want to play offensively. He forced 55 missed tackles over the last two seasons, per The Athletic.

Corley didn’t run a wide variety of routes for the Hilltoppers, but he’s a yards-after-catch maven who has the athleticism to do much more as a receiver as a pro.

One team I spoke to has him graded as a running back, not a wideout. Some will see him strictly as a gadget guy. But he looks like the kind of catch-and-run weapon who could catch a shallow cross or a bubble screen and turn it into an explosive play in a blink. He could be a “Z” option for the Patriots, leaving a hole for an “X” on the outside to be acquired at a later date.

One more thing that would be interesting if the Patriots could introduce it into his game as a pro: Corley appears to have the kinds of skills that would play as a kick-returner — particularly under the league’s new kick-return rules — giving him even more value. It’s not something he did in college. But his explosiveness and affinity for contact would make him a candidate to break a tackle and, potentially, be gone.

Special teams coaches are “freaking out” about the new rule, I’m told, and the uncertainty surrounding it may cause teams to value players more than they have in recent years if they can contribute in that third phase.

Round 4 (No. 103 overall): Braelon Allen, RB, Wisconsin

Highlights of Wisconsin running back Braelon Allen

Allen is the youngest player in the draft; he’ll turn 21 in January of 2025. But he’s one of the biggest backs in this year’s class at 6-foot-1, 235 pounds. He doesn’t always play to that size, but he’s certainly capable of lowering his shoulder and taking the fight to linebackers. Plus, in an offense that is going to get downhill, he seems like a fit. 

Allen is also a capable receiver and pass-catcher, meaning that if the Patriots aren’t sure about extending Rhamondre Stevenson, Allen could be the kind of hulking do-it-all player Stevenson has been the last few years in Foxboro.

Round 5 (No. 137 overall): Myles Harden, CB, South Dakota

As we get deeper into Day 3, it’s a good time to throw a few darts on the defensive side of the ball. Harden qualifies. He plays a premium position. He’s a tremendously agile player. And he’s not afraid to throw his weight around as a tackler, which head coach Jerod Mayo would appreciate.

At 5-foot-11, 195 pounds, he may not be matching up with longer “X” types on the outside. But he has enough size, toughness and quickness — not to mention potential versatility to play multiple spots in the secondary — to warrant a selection here.

Round 6 (No. 180 overall): JD Bertrand, LB, Notre Dame

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Bertrand was a two-time captain for the Fighting Irish who led the team in tackles for three consecutive seasons.

Another late-round pick. Another defender. And another Prototypical Patriot. 

“This guy is a hitter,” said an NFC linebackers coach. “Super smart. Unbelievably smart. Photographic memory. He’s undersized. He has really short arms, which people won’t like. He can get kind of engulfed. He might miss some tackles. But I think he’ll play eight-to-ten years in the league because his coaches will always trust him.

“He’ll work hard. He’ll hit you. And he’ll play on special teams, which will matter with the new kickoff rule.”

Round 6 (No. 193 overall): Myles Cole, ED, Texas Tech

How about a defensive lineman for former Patriots defensive line coach and current coordinator DeMarcus Covington?

Cole is a Deatrich Wise-type up front. Long and strong. Wise checked into the combine back in 2017 at 6-foot-5, 274 pounds with 36-inch arms. Cole is a little bigger and a little longer (37-inch arms), and could — like Wise — play multiple techniques along the line of scrimmage.

Cole is a super super senior coming out; like many COVID-era college prospects, he spent six years in school. But he wasn’t all that productive for a draftable player, with nine tackles for loss in 25 games over the last two years. Still, his 35-inch vertical and 10-foot broad jump are eye-opening enough to make him worthy of a Day 3 choice.

Round 7 (No. 231 overall): Cornelius Johnson, WR, Michigan

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Johnson racked up 604 receiving yards while catching passes from J.J. McCarthy during the Wolverines’ 2023 championship campaign.

Size? Check (6-foot-3, 212 pounds). Speed? Check (4.44-second 40). Explosiveness? Check (37.5-inch vertical, 10-foot-7 broad). His hand size (8.6 inches) could be a limiting factor in the eyes of the Patriots. But Johnson could find a match in New England, with a front office that’s looking for toughness.

Johnson’s blocking ability, combined with his frame, could get him on the field early. He has the physical characteristics that should buy him time to develop at the next level, and if he hits, he’d give the team the kind of big-and-fast pass-catcher they need.

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