Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 03-21 and Mock Draft 1.0 after the initial wave of free agency is over, the picture is a bit clearer as the team filled many of their holes.
Please check out our draft profiles as we inch closer to the 2021 NFL Draft.
Have you checked out our team news feature for all 32 teams yet? It is a great resource to keep up with what is going on all across the NFL.
Quick Hitters For the Pats, and the NFL:
Justin Herron: The Patriots backup offensive lineman and another man were honored and issued an “Outstanding Citizen” certificate by police at a press conference on Wednesday after the pair came to the aid of a woman who was being assaulted in a Tempe, AZ park.
Herron and Murry Rogers saw a 30-year old man pushing a 71-year old woman to the ground and jumped into action. “If not for the swift actions of Mr. Justin Herron and Mr. Murry Rogers, this vicious attack could’ve been much worse,” said Detective Natalie Barela of the Tempe PD.
Tempe Police Chief Jeff Glover, said, “The impact they’ve had on our victim’s life; these two individuals stepped forward and truly saved her life.” The victim has recently met with her two rescuers and police said that “there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.”
Herron said, “I wish I could tell you what I was thinking. I just knew someone just needed help. All I could do was just rush myself over there to make sure I could help the victim and make sure I could comfort her and be the best person I can be.”
Salary Cap Questions? Ask Miguel: There is no one with more knowledge when it comes to NE’s salary cap than our old buddy Miguel Benzan aka @Patscap. If you’re going anywhere else for salary cap information, you’re doing yourself a disservice.
4th & 2 Podcast – If you haven’t checked out our PatsFans.com podcast, “Patriots 4th & 2” in a bit, please check it out. Russ, Derek, and I recorded a podcast where we discussed the early free agency moves.
Russ Francis/ Chuck Fairbanks: The former Patriot tight end and head coach both should be in the Patriots team Hall of Fame…this will be on our Sunday posts until it happens.
The Return Of James White, Lawrence Guy, Excellent Moves:
The Patriots had been very active with their checkbook this offseason signing several free agents, but they’ve also been able to retain many of their own free agents. The recent re-signings of both James White and Lawrence Guy were not only excellent moves in bringing back very good veteran players, but they were both done on very team-friendly deals. The total cap hit for both players in 2021 is less than $3 million.
Earlier, we pegged White as good as gone, believing he’d opt for one of the Florida teams, getting closer to home after the tragic car accident involving his parents last year. But he returned in a very modest deal.
White’s one-year contract, despite what some on talk-sports radio will say, is well worth it. He will receive a total salary of $2.325 million dollars. Due to a new provision in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, it is considered as a so-called Four-Year Player Qualifying Contract. This was introduced as a means to help veteran players be signed to rosters. So, only $1.075 million of White’s salary actually is counted against the Patriots’ cap. As well as his signing bonus of $137,500. Therefore, his salary cap number this year is only $1.213 million.
Guy’s contract is four years for a maximum value of $24 million with bonuses but is essentially a 4-year, $11.5 million deal. Guy’s cap hits in 2021 is just $1.75 million with cap hits of $3.25 million for each year of the final three. Which is very affordable.
Niners Trade Throws A Difficult Factor in NE Draft Plans:
The Forty-Niners and Dolphins worked out a mega-deal trade on Friday that will affect the remainder of the pre-draft wheeling and dealing for teams, including the Patriots that wish to move up in the draft, ostensibly to select one of the top QBs this year.
The Niners gave up their 1st-round pick (#12) in the 2021 draft, plus their 1st and 3rd round picks in 2022, and a 1st-round pick in 2023 to Miami to move up just nine spots from #12 to the Dolphins #3. Miami then jumped back into the top ten with a deal trading the #12 pick to the Eagles along with a 2022 1st-round pick for #6.
By jumping into the draft fray, SF has joined the teams looking for a QB, and the price they paid, it is now believed that Jacksonville, Jets, and SF will select either Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, Trey Lance, or Mac Jones with the first three selections. However, with Carolina, Detroit, Denver, and New England in the mix, there are more spots than QBs.
That makes Atlanta’s pick at #4 much more valuable. And the Falcons will be looking for a similar haul, and the Patriots currently at #15, are going to have to move up even more than the Niners. Another option would be Cincinnati at #5. They selected Joe Burrow last year and would probably love to get some additional capital to build around him. Moving back a bit, if the pot is sweetened enough, might just do the trick.
In regards to QB trades, as soon as the Niners trade took effect, the rumor mill around Jimmy G. went absolutely haywire. The feeling here is, that it is myopic and only centered around what works for New England.
Yes, the Niners would be spending a ton of cash on the QB position for 2021, but the thought of spending all that capital on a young QB and just throwing him into the deep end of the pool in 2021? That would seem foolhardy…and bad business.
Greg Bedard of BSJ believes that Jacksonville will trade QB Gardner Minshew after they signed QB C.J. Beathard. He has a scenario where Minshew ($900,000 salary) will get traded to SF as their bridge QB, and that will free up Jimmy G. to get traded to New England. Seems like a lot of things have to fall into place.
Of course, the other Minshew option is that the Patriots trade for him straight up. That wouldn’t be a favored option here, but we’ve already been down that path. However, it is now going to be very costly for New England to move up in the draft for their next QB.
Mock Draft 1.0 – Post-Free Agency Frenzy:
With the initial wave of free agency in the books, the needs of the Patriots have obviously changed somewhat and many of the holes that plagued the roster have been filled.
With that being said, the need for a young QB is still there and the Patriots will get one at #15. For the purposes on our initial mock, we didn’t make any trades, those will come in later mocks, but for our purposes, we stuck with the draft picks just as they come, which we know, the Patriots never do.
We used the Pro Football Network’s (PFN) mock draft simulator.
1st Round, Pick #15 Mac Jones, QB Alabama: Jones had to be patient at Alabama but once he got his chance, he shined, leading the Tide to a national championship and putting up some incredible numbers.
Jones sees the field extremely well and can attack with outstanding accuracy in all three levels of the field. His skill set is a very good match for the Patriots system. And while his arm strength is only average and he won’t make plays with his feet, he slides in the pocket very well and doesn’t make poor decisions with the ball.
2nd Round, Pick #46 Asante Samuel Jr. CB, Florida State: Samuel is a versatile, corner that can play inside or outside, even free safety in the future. While Samuel isn’t the biggest corner at 5’11, 185, he excels in both man and zone coverages. He is very physical and has very good change of direction skills.
PFF said of him, “He may be the single most gifted mover in the cornerback class when you consider speed, burst, agility, change-of-direction ability, and leaping ability. He could be described as “plus” in all of those categories.”
3rd Round, Pick #96 Royce Newman, G, Ole Miss: Newman is Mr. Versatile, having played effectively at both guard and right tackle. During Ole Miss’ Pro Day, Newman was even taking some snaps at center. Bill Belichick loves versatile players who can do more than one thing. Having a player who can play anywhere along the offensive line is a major plus.
He more resembles a tackle than a guard, with a 6’5, 310 frame. However, he’s struggled with speed rushers as a tackle but will have the time to work on it, but is excellent in the running game.
4th Round, Pick #109, Shi Smith, WR, South Carolina: Smith is an undersized slot receiver who was a go-to guy at Columbia, with excellent short-area quickness, strong hands, and the ability to run back kicks.
He can make the tough catches and has the savvy and quickness at the line to create separation. While not a deep threat, per se, he can get open deep and is a good vertical threat. He’s fearless across the middle. He shined at the Senior Bowl and with the right coaching at the next level can be another versatile player.
4th Round, Pick # 120 Seth Williams, WR, Auburn: Williams is a big, possession receiver who projects to be an excellent red-zone threat. He has good speed, especially off of the line for a big man, (6’3, 211), and a physical presence in the passing game.
Williams was a basketball player, and his ability to high-point the ball, along with his size and physicality means he’s outstanding in contested catch situations. He is also a very good, physical blocker in the running game. A traditional, “X” WR, he’d fit well in the Patriots system with Josh McDaniels.
4th Round, Pick #122, Jemar Jefferson, RB, Oregon State: With their final pick in the 4th round, Jefferson is an outside-zone running back who is versatile enough to contribute in the running game and passing game at the next level.
Jefferson is a compact (5’9, 217) back who isn’t going to be the bell-cow back but would be an excellent addition to a team that likes to use its backs in a rotation. He has outstanding vision and the burst to create big plays if he gets to the second level.
5th Round, Pick #139, Jaylon Moore, OT, Western Michigan: Moore wasn’t a highly thought of prospect but was impressive at the Senior Bowl displaying consistency, the versatility to move around, and smooth footwork.
Moore is a good-sized tackle, at 6’4, 315 with a long wingspan who steadily improved at Western Michigan. He’s strong, stays square when blocking, and keeps his feet moving.
5th Round, Pick #177, JaCoby Stevens, S, LSU: Stevens is a good-sized, physical safety who is at his best in the box. He’s smart, has a strong work ethic, and is at his best when he keeps the play in front of him and plays downhill.
At 6’2, 230, he’d be a nice addition for the dime linebacker/safety hybrid that the Patriots like to use. He has ST’s upside…always a plus.
6th Round, Pick #188, Milton Williams, DT, Louisiana Tech: Williams is an undersized late-emerging prospect at 6’4, 280. His draft stock has been steadily rising and has good athleticism and pad level while being a bit light to be a three-down player, Williams could find a roster slot as a sub-package pass rusher.
6th Round, Pick #197, Jimmy Morrisey, C, Pittsburgh: Morrisey has the look of an offensive lineman who isn’t highly thought of that finds a home with the Patriots.
Morrisey, 6’3, 300 was a walk-on at Pitt who turned into a four-year starter. High football I.Q. and work ethic. Wasn’t invited to the Senior Bowl until the last day, when an injury opened the door for him. He’ll be a long shot, but something about him screams Patriot.
7th Round, Pick 242, Chris Evans, RB, Michigan: Evans is a running back with a classic frame (5’11, 216) for the NFL. He was fast-tracking at Michigan until he was suspended from the program due to an academic issue.
Another long shot, Evans has the skill set to be a three-down back in the NFL, having an excellent ability to cut back against the grain, pass protection and pass receiving. The Wolverines used him as a slot receiver at times.
“We are excited about the additions to our roster so far this year,” Belichick said. “Whether by trade, free agency or re-signings, the group brings a good mix of offense, defense, and special teams. It was great to see them in the building, including some familiar faces, and we are all looking forward to continuing building toward the upcoming season.”
Bill Belichick’s comments about the opening week of free agency, the first we’ve heard from him since he turned down his Presidential Medal of Freedom honor.
“So, how was your week?”
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Posted Under: 2021 Patriots Draft
Tags: 2021 Patriots Mock Draft 53 Man Roster Projection Bill Belichick New England Patriots NFL Patriots