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Patriots Mock Draft 1.0, Post Free Agency Start

Steve Balestrieri
Steve Balestrieri on Twitter
2 months ago at 6:00 am ET

Patriots Mock Draft 1.0, Post Free Agency StartJerry Lai - USA TODAY Sports

It is time for my first mock draft of the year. I’ve waited for the initial wave of free agency to finish to conduct this mock exercise; as we all know, free agency can and will definitely shape how the team pursues the NFL Draft.  We also all recognize that there are so many variables in the draft that it is very hard, at best, to predict. But doing so before free agency begins makes it even harder. 

The Patriots still have a fair amount of salary cap space, so their free agency is far from done, and they can still make some moves before the draft starts. There still remains some discussion around Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins, and while the Chiefs are also in the discussion, we’ve seen crazier things happen. But at his age, Hopkins may be wanting a ring right now. 

So, let’s take a look at the first mock of the spring (for me) and see what transpires as the board plays out. I didn’t make a lot of trades, far less than what Bill Belichick will do, but I did set the team up for a nice start in 2024.

Patriots Mock Draft 1.0, Post Free Agency Start

Round 1:

***TRADE*** New England Trades pick #14, #107 to the NY Giants for  picks #25, #57 and NY’s 2024 2nd Round Draft Pick


#25 Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma —

After sliding back in the first round, 11 spots to #25, there was still a very good prospect for OT there for the taking. I was teetering between OT and CB, and in this particular mock, the top three CBs were gone by #14. 

So, I took the deal by the Giants and slid back to #25, and for giving up 14 and 107, I received 25, 57, and the NY 2nd round pick in 2024. Anton Harrison projects to be the next very good NFL OT prospect from Oklahoma. He is 6’4, 315 pounds and a very good athlete for a big man. He had the 2nd fastest 40-time among OTs and ran a 1.77 10-yard split which is very good for a big man. 

He plays with natural raw power, with the sought-after wide frame that teams look for in a tackle, but he also possesses excellent athleticism for his size. He’s explosive off the snap to easily get the second level against linebackers in the running game. He’s very fluid in pass protection. 

He’ll need to refine his hand usage and alignment a bit and can sometimes play too upright, but he is a very good prospect and should be the left tackle the team needs for the next several years. He will push Trent Brown in training camp. 

Round 2:

#46 Julius Brents, CB, Kansas State —

Brents is a big, versatile cornerback who could play boundary corner or move to free safety in the future. Brents is 6’3, 198 pounds with decent (4.53) speed in the 40 but turned in a 6.63 in the 3-Cone Drill, which is outstanding. In 2022 as a red-shirt senior, he produced 45 tackles (28 solo) with four passes defensed and four INTs. 

Opposing QBs who targeted him had a QB rating of just 48.3, which is excellent. He was selected as a First Team, All-Big 12 from the coaches poll. He possesses a terrific blend of size, speed, and explosion. He has improved significantly every season.

He was originally a safety but was moved to cornerback because of his man coverage skills, characterized as “an experienced pro corner.” He tracks the ball well, and with his height and leaping ability, he high-points the ball very well.

It was more than a small surprise that he was there in Round 2. 

#57 Marvin Mims Jr., WR, Oklahoma —

Another Boomer Sooner in Round 2, Mims, in the right system and used properly (terrible flashbacks to last year), could be an excellent wide receiver at the next level. He has 4.38 speed with a 39.5-inch vertical and a 10.9-broad jump.

Mims is just 21 years old and, as a junior, posted 52 catches for an elite 1005 yards for an average of 19.3 yards per catch, with 6 TDs, and a QB rating of when he was targeted 122.4.

Mims is what I’ve been saying; it is what the Patriots need, a slot receiver with speed who can use his vision and long speed to be a threat in the passing game. Although he’ll probably play as a slot receiver, the team can flex him outside and be a perimeter threat.

The knock on Mims is his size, 5’11, 183 pounds. Despite this, he has sure hands and is excellent with the ball in the air. He is a very willing and physical blocker, something the Patriots pride their WRs on. He’ll need some work at the next level on his route tree and technique at the LOS, but he has the tools to be very good. 

Round 3:

#76 Tucker Kraft, TE, South Dakota State —

Kraft (no relation to Robert) is a good-sized tight end (6’5, 255) with very good athleticism, where he turned in a good time in the 40 at 4.69 with a very good 1.57 ten-yard split. He also scored well in the 3-Cone Drill for a big man with a time of 7.08.

Kraft is very versatile and can line up inline, where he is a very good blocker, outside or in the slot. In 2021, he caught 65 passes for 770 yards (11.8 yards per catch) with 6 TDs in 15 games. He suffered an injury in 2022 and only played in 6 games, but he produced 19 catches for 232 yards (avg.12.2 yards per catch), with 2 TDs. When he was targeted, the QB rating was a terrific 134.7.

With Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki on the field, there will be no rush in getting Kraft on the field, and he can develop and learn from two good pros while developing his route tree. He’s still a bit raw, but will develop into a solid pro tight end. 

Round 4:

# 117 Tyler Steen, OT, Alabama —

Steen comes from the Nick Saban program at Alabama, which makes him automatically present on the Patriots’ radar. Steen started his career as a DT at Vandy but ended it as Alabama’s starting left tackle. 

Last year for the Crimson Tide, he allowed 2 QB hits and 2 QB sacks but struggled somewhat against bull-rushers. Steen has very good size at 6’6, 321. He scored well at the NFL Combine in the vertical and broad jumps as well as the bench press. His solid, flexible core allows him to recognize and pick up blitzes. 

But he sometimes played too upright in pass protection and as mentioned above, had his issues against bull rushers. But with Harrison on board, he will be a developmental project with the opportunity to carve out a starting role with time.

#135 Bryce Ford-Wheaton, WR, West Virginia —

Ford-Wheaton is a big wide receiver (6’4, 221) with a large wingspan with excellent straight-line speed (4.38). Ford-Wheaton played as a fifth-year senior in 2022, and he had 62 catches for 675 yards, an average of 10.9 yards per catch, and 7 TDs in 12 games. 

He wins by using his length to snag jump balls and uses his body to shield off defenders. Despite his size, he is surprisingly not a good run blocker, and his route tree is limited. He won’t generate a lot of separation, which is a surprise considering his speed, but he has sure strong hands and with his wingspan, has a wide catch radius. 

He’s far from a sure thing that befits his draft position, but if he puts the time and effort in, he could become a big red zone target and carve out a role for himself.

Round 6:

#184 Dorian Williams, LB, Tulane —

Williams is an undersized but very athletic linebacker who had excellent production while at Tulane. He was the Defensive MVP in the bowl game against USC. He ran a 4.49 in the 40 at the NFL Combine with a 1.54 10-yard split.

Williams played in 13 games as a senior for the Green Wave. He added 85 tackles, 31 assists, and 50 stops. Williams had three passes defensed, two interceptions, and a QB rating when targetted of 84.6 in coverage. Williams also notched 22 total pressures, which included 9 QB hurries, 7 QB hits, and six sacks on the season. 

He projects to be a reserve linebacker and a core special teamer with his speed and athleticism.

#187 Colby Wooden, DT, Auburn —

Wooden is a potential diamond in the rough for the Patriots in Round 6. He’s listed as DT/Edge player, but I think he has a lot of potential initially to be a subpackage interior pass rusher as DE in the Patriots’ 3-4 base defense. 

He has the desired length at 6’4, but his playing weight, at 273, will make it tough for him to stack the run at the line of scrimmage. Last year, he started all 12 games and had 45 tackles, including 11.5 for loss, with 35 total pressures, which included 24 QB hurries, five QB hits, and six sacks.

With some development, Wooden can play in an odd or even front with a good ability to get after opposing QBs. He’s considered a high character, very competitive player with an outstanding work ethic. 

#192 Jake Moody, K, Michigan —

The Patriots have to get a new kicker, as Nick Folk can’t hold on forever…right? And Jake Moody is (IMO) the best kicker in the NFL draft this spring. That’s why at #192, I felt that he might be gone by the 7th Round, and signing him as a UDFA was a crapshoot. As it is, I believe that he’s more than worth the pick.

Does he have the range? How about a 59-yarder against TCU in the college playoff? He set the career mark at Michigan for attempts, points, and field goals made. I was tempted to take him earlier. 

#210 Nick Herbig, Edge, Wisconsin —

Herbig was a three-year starter at OLB for Wisconsin, but at 6’2, 240, he projects as more of an off-the-ball linebacker in the NFL. He’s a guy that has good speed (4.69 in the 40, with a 1.59 ten-yard split. 

Herbig has great instincts and plenty of athleticism and put up 35 stops last year. In his career, 26 percent of his tackles went for a loss. He was good in coverage and produced 34 total pressures, which included 17 QB hurries, six QB hits, and 11 sacks on the year. 

He may require a year in the weight room, but the potential is there. 

Round 7:

#245 Byron Young, DT Alabama —

Young played on the inside and edge for the Crimson Tide, but he projects as an interior DL in the NFL. He’s 6’3, 294 and anchors against the run well. He shoots his hands and can control OL at the snap in the running game. 

In 12 games in 2022, Young logged 28 tackles, 15 assists, and 23 stops. He added 25 total pressures, which included 14 QB hurries, seven QB hits, and four sacks on the season in rushing the passer.

He’s limited athletically and doesn’t have the ability to track ball carriers in the backfield. Despite his weight (294), he could play as a running stuffing NT on occasion. 


That does it for the 2023 picks. I believe that the team will make more moves in the middle rounds as they’ll make a move for a fifth-round pick, I’m sure. But for brevity’s sake, I didn’t get into more trade scenarios…for now.

But they also added some draft capital for next year as they added the 2024 NYG 2nd Round pick. 

**Tune in to our podcast this Wednesday at noon as Derek Havens, and I will be discussing the front seven prospects.**


Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on Streamyard as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens, and I from discuss the latest Patriots news, rumors, and game analysis.


Posted Under: 2023 Patriots Mock Drafts
Tags: 2023 Free Agency 2023 Patriots Mock Draft anton harrison Bill Belichick Bryce Ford-Wheaton Byron Young Colby Wooden Dorian Williams Jake Moody Julius Brents. Marvin Mims New England Patriots Nick Herbig Tucker Kraft Tyler Steen

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