The New England Patriots are having a questionable offseason. The NFL Draft could be the time the team finally pushes them into the next level of AFC contention.
This offseason, the AFC became a juggernaut of top-tier production. Not only do they have some of the great young quarterbacks in Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, and Joe Burrow, but the Browns, Broncos, and Colts got major upgrades at quarterback. Also, the Dolphins, Raiders, Chargers, and Bills all upgraded at the skills position. Meanwhile, the New England Patriots largely got worse. They lost J.C. Jackson and Shaq Mason while only upgrading with Malcolm Butler.
There are a lot of areas where the Patriots need to upgrade. Cornerback is obviously one of them, and the wide receiver position isn’t much to get excited about. The Patriots’ spending spree last offseason did net them Matthew Judon, Hunter Henry, and Deatrich Wise Jr., but now they’re stuck with the contracts of Jonnu Smith, Nelson Agholor, and Jalen Mills. It puts the Patriots in a position where their moves are limited.
That takes us to the NFL Draft. The Patriots have another pick higher than they are used to in the first round, and they can use it to make a serious upgrade to the roster. This draft isn’t steeped with talent, but there are some players who can make the Patriots much better. Where should the Patriots start?
New England Patriots Seven-Round Mock Draft – First Round
Linebacker University of Michigan
The Patriots’ biggest need is definitely not at the linebacker position. They just traded for Mack Wilson of the Cleveland Browns, and they signed the aforementioned Judon last offseason. So, why would they take another linebacker in David Ojabo? For one, he is a distressed asset because he was injured during training for the draft. He may miss time in the regular season because of it.
This honestly makes more sense if the Patriots trade down a few spaces and get an extra asset, but this seems like the type of move that Patriots fans hate but Bill Belichick looks like a genius when it’s all said and done. Ojabo is one of the most talented defensive players in the draft. That was before his torn Achilles tendon at the Michigan Pro Day.
His speed during play stands out during Michigan’s season. Ojabo always stood out on almost every defensive play. He would always have a nose for the ball, something Belichick loves out of his linebackers. The Patriots want to find a long-term answer after likely losing Dont’a Hightower this offseason. Ojabo could be that long-term answer, and he could return in the middle of this season. It’s a risk, but the Patriots are not averse to risks when it’s the right opportunity.