The New England Patriots are coming off yet another Super Bowl. Tom Brady’s time is coming to a close and they need to find a replacement. Who will they select to keep this dynasty going?
Tom Brady is the obvious quarterback here as he is probably the best all-time. As much as I hate saying it that statement is probably true. With that said he is not getting any younger and the Patriots need to look into finding his eventual replacement. Brian Hoyer is his backup and is fully capable but he is not so young himself. He has also seen mixed results being handed a starter’s role. The offensive line was probably the best in the NFL last season. The Patriots do need to do some work here though as they lost tackle Trent Brown to the Raiders via free agency.
Sony Michel had his coming out party in the playoffs quite possibly being the most important player during that stretch. He is the teams definitive number one back. James White will continue to play passing downs and also mix in running the ball as one of the team’s favorites players. Rex Burkhead is also still on the team and will most likely see some reps himself, spelling both White and Michel.
At tight end the Patriots lost one of the all-time greats in Rob Gronkowski. In lieu of Gronkowski’s retirement the team signed young journeyman Austin Sefarian-Jenkins. He was drafted with promise but has yet to reach that potential. The Patriots will either unlock that potential or he will be their next Dwayne Allen. Either way the team should look for another tight end. Julian Edleman and Demaryius Thomas are the top two wideouts but both are aging. Thomas is coming off a torn Achilles and the Patriots would be wise to look at this position in the draft.
The defensive line is more of a work in progress at this point. They lost both Macolm Brown and Trey Flowers in free agency. Malcolm Brown has not been replaced yet in the middle but the team signed Michael Bennett to replace Flowers. Granted Bennett is a highly productive player he is in his year 34 season. Lawrence Guy is a solid piece in the middle but will need help. The Patriots should add line help in this draft.
The Patriots linebackers are a solid group. Kyle Van Noy has rejuvenated his career with the Patriots having put together a couple good seasons. Elandon Roberts has played well in the middle but the team could upgrade. Long time Patriot Dont’a Hightower is past his prime and the Patriots I feel need to move on. Ja’Whaun Bentley played great in the little time he spent on the field before his injury and he should be more involved this season. Adding some more athleticism to this group would be beneficial for the Patriots.
The secondary for the Patriots is an aging group. Both McCourty brothers as well as Patrick Chung are 31 years old. Stephon Gilmore is the only youngster of the group and he is 28 years old himself. Gilmore is great but the team needs to add some more corner depth. The Patriots also need to look into getting younger at the safety position.
Round 1, Pick #32 Deionte Thompson, Safety- Alabama
Deionte Thompson may have slipped down some draft boards after inconsistent pay in the football playoffs. For the Patriots though I feel they will love what Thompson can bring to the table. Though he only has one season starting under his belt, he totaled 78 tackles, 3.5 for a loss, six passes defended, two interceptions, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
Thompson has great instincts and can read quarterback’s eyes very well. He does a solid job tracking deep throws and has smooth change of direction. Not only does Thompson play well in coverage but his run support is strong too. This leaves either safety position open for him to play. The in-game play can be coached and New England has the staff that always gets the best out of its players.
Round , Pick #56 Kelvin Harmon, Wide Receiver- N.C. State
Harmon is a big bodied receiver with great strength checking in at 6’2 and 221 Lbs. He will not blow you away with his speed but he knows that. Separation is the only thing he needs to work on and refined route running could help with that. As for now his ball skills and strength in his hands and core should help to secure targets. Brady could fall in love with Harmon underneath and in the red zone finally having a large receiver to target. During two years and 25 games as a starter Harmon totaled 150 receptions for 2,203 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Kelvin Harmon could step in and be the number two receiver for the team after Julian Edleman. Demaryius Thomas is coming of a torn Achilles and nobody knows how well his recovery is going. The team lost Chris Hogan to the Panthers in free agency and should look to add a solid young receiver, Harmon is their guy.
Round 2, Pick #64 Connor McGovern, Offensive Guard- Penn St.
McGovern is a big bodied lineman with experience at both guard and center. He can move all along the interior of the line for the Patriots. His run blocking is solid and plays very wide. He is not easily bull rushed as he plays with above average strength and good balance and pad level. McGovern does have some technique he needs to work on in pass sets but has the power to redirect edge rush. McGovern would be a lovely addition to this already stout line as the Patriots may transition to a more run heavy scheme.
Round 3, Pick #74 Bobby Evans, Offensive Tackle- Oklahoma
Bobby Evans is by no means the most athletic lineman in the draft but he makes up for it with his upper body and core strength. It is incredibly hard to move him off his block and he handles the bull rush well. Evans has very long arms at nearly 35 inches and can usually get his hands on opponents first and uses his hand strength from their to redirect rushers.
Evans has experience playing both tackle positions and played in a very powerful offense. The Patriots lost all-pro tackle Trent Brown to the Raiders in the offseason. Evans should be able to come in and start from day one as Trent Brown’s replacement.
Round 3, Pick #98 Blake Cashman, Linebacker- Minnesota
Blake Cashman is your prototypical blue-collar Patriot type player. Cashman is a safety converted to linebacker and uses his former defensive back skills well in coverage. He was a walk-on at Minnesota where he did not secure a starting role until his Senior season. During his Senior season he made the most of the opportunity. He finished the season with 104 total tackles, 15 for a loss, 2.5 sacks, five passes defended, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, and a touchdown. During the combine Cashman ran a 4.50 second 40 yard dash.
Cashman went from former walk-on to team captain by the end of his stay in Minnesota which shows good leadership and growth. He lives for football and flies around the field making plays showcased by his 15 tackles for a loss in 2018. Cashman plays his best while in the red zone as he can cover tight ends and is a sure tackler. His hard work, love for football, and determination make him a perfect weakside linebacker for the Patriots.
Round 3, Pick # 102 Ricky Walker, Defensive Tackle- Virginia Tech
Ricky Walker was a Second Team All-ACC defensive tackle in 2018. He put together strong Senior and Junior years totaling 90 tackles, 22.5 for a loss, 6.5 sacks, and two passes defended in 23 games. Walker is quite disruptive in the middle and has a knack for getting in the backfield. This is something that the Patriots lack on the interior of the line.
Walker has a quick first step and has a knack for finding gaps. He plays with great energy and has solid short are athleticism. Due to the Patriots need at defensive tackle after Malcolm Brown’s departure, the Patriot’s jump a little here. Walker needs work but has the ability, with coaching, to play very meaningful snaps in 2019.
Round 4, Pick #135 Anthony Nelson, Defensive End- Iowa
Nelson has one position in the NFL and that is 4-3 scheme defensive end. He does not have the quickness to play outside linebacker but with the Patriots he will not need to. Nelson plays with a great NFL ready body and a motor that never quits. High motor and character are big in New England’s camp. He has explosion out of his initial stance and bursts to the line when rushing.
Nelson has great length coming in at 6’7 and has active hands at the line having 7 passes defended in his career. His combo of motor, strength and athleticism helped him to total 31 tackles for a loss and 23 sacks during his time in Iowa. His play style fits New England’s scheme perfectly and has the possibility of being a future defensive end starter. He will play a good chunk of snaps this season.
Round 6, Pick #207 Cody Thompson, Wide Receiver- Toledo
Is Cody Thompson the Julian Edleman reincarnate? He is a former quarterback and punt returner who transitioned to wide receiver. Thompson has the route running ability to run very complex routes and creates great separation. He has 6’1 and 205 Lbs. size that he would likely bring inside to the slot. Thompson has very soft hands to combine with good bounce and high catch point ability.
His Junior season saw him total 64 receptions for 1,269 yards and 11 touchdowns. During his Senior season his yardage numbers dropped but proved still to be an amazing red zone target with another 10 touchdowns. Thompson can come in and learn from Edelman for a year or two while mixing in as a returnman for the Patriots early in his career. He does have the ability though to be a tough cover, big bodied slot man for the future.
Round 7, Pick #241 Jarret Stidham, Quarterback- Auburn
The Patriots wait all the way until the seventh round to draft a possible successor to Tom Brady. This in part mainly because of the lack of elite quarterback talent in this draft. Watch Stidham play in 2017 and you will see an intelligent quarterback able to read defenses and make plays with both his arm and feet. In 2018 Stidham seemed to lose confidence, whether it be in his team or his ability, and used his legs much more.
Though he rushed for almost 1,000 yards his Senior season NFL scouts want to see more of the 2017 version of Stidham. That version is one that can decipher and run an offense. Stidham needs to land on a team with the correct coaches around him and the Patriots have that. With Stidham not being a threat to stealing Brady’s job, but to replace him when he retires, maybe Brady actually tries to teach this prospect a thing or two.
Round 7, Pick #245 Corey Ballentine, Cornerback- Washburn
Ballentine is a small school prospect that holds top of the line NFL athleticism. He has great speed with a 4.47 second 40 yard dash and great short area quickness as well. Another high character guy, he uses his quickness to stay with receivers and beat them on their routes. His long arms and already mentioned great speed allow him to wait as long as possible to turn his hips and run with receivers and back pedals very well.
Ballentine needs a little coaching to polish all his physical traits into great cover skills but the ability is definitely there. I see him coming in as a back up to the outside corner positions year one with possible return abilities. He should be a special teams star and will eventually make the starting lineup.
Round 7, Pick #248 Donald Parham, Tight End- Stetson
I would put an image here for Parham but apparently he is so far off the radar that he does not have any available images. He is a polarizing prospect at tight end standing at 6’8 and 243 Lbs. For his three seasons he totaled 180 receptions for 2,591 yards and 20 touchdowns. He was a consensus FCS First Team All-American in 2018. During that season he posted 85 catches for 1,319 yards and 13 touchdowns.
During that huge Senior season Parham led both FCS and FBS tight ends in both receptions per game at 9.4 and receiving yards per game at 146.6. Parham has soft natural hands as he is a star basketball player as well. He runs the seam route well and uses his height and length to catch over anybody. The NFL will throw much stiffer competition his way but grabbing him in the seventh round as a large target project for a team who lost its star tight end would not be so bad.
Round 7, Pick #254 Mike Danna, Defensive End- Central Michigan
Mike Danna is definitely worth a flier this late in the draft to play defensive end. He was quite productive at Central Michigan winning the teams Most Valuable Player Award as well as earning a spot on the All Mid-American Conference First Team Defense. Danna has the strength to play defensive end in the NFL but is slightly undersized. That never stopped him from being productive in college though.
For his two years as a full-time starter he totaled 120 tackles, 23 for a loss, 13.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and two touchdowns. Danna has a nose for making plays and could be a solid backup end in the NFL.
The Patriots have a plethora of picks in the 2019 draft and use them to fill needs as well as take some fliers. With their first round pick they select versatile safety Deionte Thompson from Alabama where he can continue his winning pedigree with the Patriots. The first of the team’s second round picks was Kelvin Harmon, a sure handed big body receiver with great route running ability. He could become a favorite of Brady’s. Connor McGover of Penn St. was the other second round pick providing interior line versatility.
With three third round picks the Patriots start strong by grabbing offensive tackle Bobby Evans from Oklahoma. With experience starting both tackle positions he is likely a day one starter. For the second of the third round picks the team grabs disruptive interior rusher Ricky Walker from Virginia Tech. The last pick in the third round the Patriots select blue-collar hard nosed Blake Cashman. He is a quick and motor driven linebacker who can fill a void on the weakside.
In the fourth round the team selects a great defensive end prospect in Anthony Nelson out of Iowa. He has the size and ability to start or mix in often from day one. In the sixth round the team takes another Patriot type player and great route runner in Cody Thompson out of Toledo who looks to be a bigger Julian Edelman.
With four picks in the seventh the Patriots start by adding Jarrett Stidham to be tutored by Tom Brady for a few years in hopes he is the successor. The second of the seventh round picks was used on small school athletic corner Corey Ballentine. He should be a special teams ace and could push for some defensive snaps. The third pick in the seventh is used on Donald Parham, a polarizing 6’8 tight end with great hands. He is a project but has potential to be a solid in line tight end option. The final pick was used on Mike Danna who should provide some depth to the defensive end position.
Follow me on Twitter @JoeyTheToothIDP. This concludes my mock draft series as I have covered every team leading up to the NFL draft. Be sure to go on IDPGuys.org to read all the other teams drafts. Remember…the Tooth has the taste for IDP.