Coming off another Super Bowl win, the Patriots have to approach this draft looking toward the future. Tom Brady will be 42 when the season starts. The receiver group is aging. Tight end Rob Gronkowski retired. Defensive end Trey Flowers departed in free agency, as did left tackle Trent Brown. The Patriots will probably be fine — they’re the Patriots after all — but work has to be done in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Here to do that work in our blogger mock draft for New England is Rich Hill from Pats Pulpit.
32. New England Patriots: A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss
Hill: The Patriots need to get Brady a great, young receiving target with only one wide receiver or tight end with NFL experience under contract beyond the 2019 season. Julian Edelman turns 33 years old in May and the vast majority of people probably can’t name two other receiving targets for Brady at either wideout or tight end.
Brown represents the perfect Patriots’ receiver. He’s been one of the most productive wideouts in the SEC over the past two decades and runs a blazing 6.89-second three-cone drill, both of which should endear him to Bill Belichick. Brown’s equally dominant in the slot or on the outside and can catch the ball at any level of the field, offering versatility that Josh McDaniels will favor. And he runs great routes, forces missed tackles better than most any other receiver prospect, and doesn’t drop the ball or fumble, which Brady will love.
The 6’0, 226-pound receiver immediately steps into the lineup where Chris Hogan used to play, with Edelman in the slot and Phillip Dorsett providing speed on the outside. Multiple people compare Brown to JuJu Smith-Schuster. He’s the best offensive skill player on the board. What’s not to love?
Analysis: With his big frame, Brown is a little bit like a running back after the catch. Theoretically, he could also do some of the stuff Cordarrelle Patterson was doing for the Patriots last season. Brown can also provide Josh Gordon insurance if the talented but troubled veteran comes back to New England.
Brown is much more than insurance, or a fill-in player, though. He got overshadowed at Ole Miss at times, but that’s because the team’s quarterback play was shaky and there were two other NFL receivers on the roster. In the NFL, Brown should be a much better player.
Top five remaining players:
- 13. Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama
- 23. Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson
- 26. Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
- 29. Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
- 33. N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
That’s it! We’re done!
Let’s reflect for a moment on the five best players remaining. It’s easy to see why most of them dropped out of the first round: Jacobs plays a devalued position. Lawrence is perceived by some as a nose tackle, a position few teams need. Brown is on the small side for a receiver and was injured during the pre-draft hype process, while Harry is an unspectacular athlete.
That officially closes out the 13th Annual SB Nation NFL writers’ mock draft. Make sure to check out the stream for the 31 other picks and how the grades are developing.
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