Day 1 of the 2021 NFL Draft came and went Thursday night, and the New England Patriots selected Alabama’s Mac Jones No. 15 overall. Jones, who was the fifth quarterback prospect off the board, is the Patriots’ highest pick at the quarterback position in the Bill Belichick era.
After perhaps checking off one of the biggest needs on their roster, attention now turns to Day 2 of the draft, where the Patriots are scheduled to select at No. 46 and No. 96 overall. New England also has a trio of fourth-round picks if they want to potentially move up, while trading down and closing the gap between picks 46 and 96 could also be an option.
Looking back at Round 1, staying at No. 15 and letting Jones fall was a major victory for New England. The Patriots were able to get their quarterback while surrendering zero additional draft capital, unlike the Chicago Bears who moved their 2022 first-round pick and more to trade up nine spots for Ohio State’s Justin Fields.
So, did you think mock drafts were over? Think again:
2nd round, 46th overall: LB Baron Browning, Ohio State
After filling their biggest hole on the offensive side of the ball in the first round, the Patriots look defense to begin Round 2. Browning, a true senior, impresses with his speed and athleticism despite standing at 6-foot-3, 241 pounds. Throughout his tenure at Ohio State, he showcased his ability to both drop back in coverage and rush the passer.
Browning most likely won’t be ready to step in and play every down right away in the NFL, but after the Patriots remodeled their linebacker depth chart in free agency, he likely won’t be needed too. He has all the physical traits to be the perfect fit for New England moving forward.
TRADE: Patriots trade 4-120 and 4-122 (49 value) to Chicago for 3-83 (52 value)
The Patriots are certainly interested in closing the gap between picks No. 46 and No. 96 after losing a third-round selection due to the Bengals filming fiasco. With a trio of fourth-round selections in the fold, they are able to package two to jump back into the third, as Chicago recoups some of the capital it sent out in the Justin Fields trade.
2nd round, 83rd overall: WR Amari Rodgers, Clemson
Help for Mac Jones.
Rodgers is a dynamic weapon for any offense. He is shaped like a running back at 5-foot-9, 211 pounds but also runs like one in the open field, showing off plus elusiveness and burst. Despite his size, Rodgers was the go-to guy for the Clemson offense in 2020, hauling in 77 receptions for 1,020 yards and seven touchdowns.
For New England, Rodgers would be the perfect candidate to step in and fill Julian Edelman’s shoes. He excels in finding holes in zone coverage, working over the middle, and can line up in the slot or out of the backfield — handling many manufactured touches in the Tigers’ offense. After adding downfield threats with Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry, and Nelson Agholor in free agency, Rodgers is the missing puzzle piece in this offense.
3rd round, 96th overall: OT Spencer Brown, Northern Iowa
The Patriots certainly have long-term question marks at the offensive tackle position. While Michael Onwenu projects to kick inside after the Joe Thuney departure, New England dealt for Trent Brown this offseason to solidify their starting unit. However, Brown’s restructured contract expires after this season and Isaiah Wynn, who has started just 18 games since being drafted in 2018, will have a decision made on his fifth-year option.
With the uncertainty of the position, the Patriots should certainly be in the offensive tackle market in this draft. Enter Spencer Brown.
The 6-foot-8, 314-pound redshirt senior started at right tackle for Northern Iowa. Brown will need some fine-tuning with his technique, but his athleticism for his size is certainly noteworthy. He uses his speed to mirror rushers laterally and is difficult to beat when he uses his length correctly. Brown has loads of upside and could be Bill Belichick’s next mid-round gem along the offensive line.
Who do you want the Patriots to draft on Day 2? Leave a comment below or let me know on Twitter @iambrianhines