First Round Draft targets For The Patriots By Ryan Kanne
Via Trey Lance IG
The New England Patriots made noise this offseason by retooling their roster with by signing Matthew Judon and Kyle Van Noy defensively and Jonnu Smith and Nelson Agholor offensively. With most of the team’s roster holes filled, the Patriots are free to select whoever they want. From young quarterbacks to exciting defensive assets, the Patriots have a multitude of options with the 15th overall pick.
Trey Lance QB NDSU/ Mac Jones QB Alabama
The 2021 draft class is full of promising quarterbacks beyond the obvious number one pick in Trevor Lawrence. While prospects like Justin Fields and Zach Wilson are expected to be the second and third quarterbacks selected, the third and fourth ranked quarterback prospects should interest the Patriots.
Trey Lance is regarded highly as a developmental quarterback but could’ve seen his draft stock rise more if he had opted to play to whole 2020 season. At the moment, Lance is expected to be selected inside the top 10 picks. The Patriots would have to move up to select Lance, but his arm talent and running ability could make him a candidate to start in his second year after being Cam Newton’s backup.
Lance’s main concerns are how pro-ready he is. The former North Dakota State quarterback had a great first season with over 3800 total yards, 28 passing touchdowns, zero interceptions, and 14 rushing touchdowns. After playing only one game due to COVID restrictions, Lance will likely sit his rookie season to better learn NFL defenses and the playbook. Learning from Newton and Bill Belichick could pay huge rewards in the future.
The last quarterback expected to be selected in the first round is Alabama’s Mac Jones. After winning a national tittle alongside Heisman Trophy winner Devonta Smith, Jones gained the attention of NFL scouts despite lackluster physical tools and ability. Jones is an accurate passer with a good arm and the ability to be a solid NFL quarterback, but his true ability is hard to discern after being surrounded by some of the most talented offensive players in college football.
Jones could be another quarterback who has to sit his rookie season before being given a chance. The Patriots could also stay at pick 15 and probably still select Jones, bringing a solid quarterback prospect to learn behind Newton. If Jones finds himself selected to the Patriots, the NFL will have to deal with another smart passer terrorizing defenses in Foxborough.
Micah Parsons LB (Penn State)
Micah Parsons was considered a top defensive prospect early in the year, but character concerns rooting from a 2019 alleged sexual assault and hazing towards Penn State teammates have had his draft stock plummet. The accusations in the incident are awful. Parsons, Penn State head coach James Franklin, and the other players in the report including current Carolina Panthers defensive lineman Yetur Gross-Matos should be punished for their actions detailed here.
The effects of this investigation are ongoing, and Parsons could see his draft stock plummet out of the first round if more information comes out or he’s punished before the draft. While the actions in the report are disgusting, the Patriots have history with taking players like Parsons and turning their professional careers and personal lives around.
The Patriots certainly wouldn’t argue with Parson’s ability as a three-down linebacker. Parsons incredible athleticism and instincts make him a true game changer at middle linebacker. His sideline-to-sideline speed and toughness in the run game put him in the same league as other top linebackers as he could be a franchise cornerstone defensively.
While the Patriots recently brought back Kyle Van Noy and have Dont’a Hightower returning after sitting out the 2020 season, drafting Parsons could solidify a versatile front seven back into an elite defensive unit.
Levi Onwuzurike DT (Washington)
While free agency filled most of the roster holes for the Patriots, the team still has a need at defensive tackle with Lawrence Guy unsigned. Onwuzurike is an interesting prospect for the Patriots given his lack of production in college. Through three years, the Washington Huskie produced only seven sacks. Even in run defense Onwuzurike averaged eight tackles for loss with 40 tackles in his last two seasons.
Without production in college, Onwuzurike is touted for his ability to disrupt offenses with a good first-step and explosiveness in filling his gap. With the Patriots defense being mostly set outside of one defensive tackle spot, Onwuzurike could find his disruptiveness to be very valuable to the newly signed Davon Godchaux and Henry Anderson.
It would be hard to use a first-round pick on a player who may not put-up big sack or tackle for loss totals, but Onwuzurike’s athleticism and explosiveness could be a game changer for a defensive line that struggled in 2020.