The Patriots could select Rob Gronkowski’s replacement. (Reese Strickland/USA Today Sports)
Thursday is the start of the NFL draft and thus a perfect time to unveil our first, and only seven-round mock draft for the Patriots.
The team will enter the weekend without a first or second-round pick and six picks overall.
With the limited roster space available for rookies, it wouldn’t be a surprise at all to see the team only select four or five players. This would obviously happen because of a few trades, which will most certainly happen as the Patriots have made at least one draft day trade every year Bill Belichick has coached the team except for one (2004).
Here is how we could see the draft for the Patriots going.
Pick 1: Round 2 (No. 57 overall) — Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn
*Patriots trade picks No. 72 and 96 overall to Texans for pick No. 57
The Patriots need an edge rusher and Lawson seems like a typical-Patriot, as he can do a number of different things like rushing the passer, but also can drop back into coverage. He would be a great addition to the rotation at defensive end and potentially could turn into Rob Ninkovich’s replacement.
Pick 2: Round 3 (No. 98 overall) — Jake Butt, TE, Michigan
*Patriots trade picks No. 131, 163 and a future draft pick to Carolina for pick No. 98
This could be Rob Gronkowski’s replacement and a nice fit for the Patriots. He tore his ACL at the end of last season, which dropped his stock significantly as he was once thought of a late first, or second-round pick a year ago. New England could be patient with him this year as they already have Gronkowski and Dwayne Allen. Another name to keep an eye for the Patriots to move up and get is cornerback Sidney Jones if he drops more than people think.
Pick 3: Round 6 (No. 200 overall) — Ben Boulware, LB, Clemson
Ever since the National Championship game, we’ve liked Boulware to the Patriots. He just seems like a guy Belichick wants to have on his team as a leader and a player who gives it all on every single play.
Pick 4: Round 6 (No. 205 overall) — Eddie Jackson, S, Alabama
* Patriots trade pick No. 183 to Lions for picks Nos. 205 and 215. Then, trade pick No. 215 away for future draft considerations
With trading up into the second round, the Patriots need to get back the picks they lost, so they swing a trade with former Patriots executive Bob Quinn, who is now with the Lions. Belichick and Nick Saban are very close and he would give him good intel on his safety from last season. The Patriots are in need of safety as Patrick Chung’s potential replacement. Jackson could be this guy.
Pick 5: Round 7 (No. 239 overall) — Adam Phillips, K, Utah
This pick isn’t necessarily to replace Stephen Gostkowski, more almost to push him a little during training camp after a tough 2016 season. Phillips wouldn’t have much chance of actually making the roster, but with limited roster space no matter who the Patriots take in this round they likely don’t have much of a chance of making the team.