We have yet to enter the NFL playoffs, so it’s way too early to look for mock drafts right? Never! A few mock drafts caught my eye recently and the focus for the Patriots, not surprisingly, is on the defense. The unit ranks dead last in the NFL, and the pass defense is on-pace to be the worst in NFL history. Therefore, the mock drafts I looked at focused on pass rushers and secondary help to bolster the pass defense. A common name on a couple of the mock drafts is South Carolina DE Melvin Ingram, so he will be a player to keep an eye on as we enter “Draft Season” after the Super Bowl.
Let’s take a look at the players pegged for the Patriots in the mocks I viewed:
#29 (from Saints): South Carolina DE Melvin Ingram
“Ingram’s versatility makes him a perfect fit for the Patriots. He can play end or outside linebacker and also has experience rushing the passer from the inside. As a senior, Ingram emerged as a big-time playmaker (8.5 sacks, 13.5 TFL, 2 INT).”
#31: Mississippi State CB Johnthan Banks
“Banks is flying under the radar and could very well return to school, but he has the size and fluidity to help a New England pass defense that ranks dead last in the NFL (297 ypg) and has had trouble finding long-term secondary help in the draft.”
#30 (from the Saints): South Carolina DE Melvin Ingram
“The Patriots surprised many by not taking advantage of a historic class of defensive linemen and pass rushers last season. The conversion from the 3-4 to the 4-3 has led to rejuvenated play from veterans Andre Carter and Mark Anderson, but youth is needed at the position. At 6-2, 270 pounds, Ingram lacks classic size, but his quick feet and natural pass rush skills make him among the more versatile front seven defenders in the country. No coach values versatility more than Bill Belichick.”
#31: Mississippi State DT Fletcher Cox
“Like Perry, the 6-4, 295-pound Cox is just scratching the surface of his potential. And make no mistake, the potential is there for Cox to be a star. The Bulldog defensive tackle earned the SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week four times this season and is highly regarded by scouts because of his size, strength and ability to play inside or out in multiple fronts. That type of versatility will certainly intrigue Bill Belichick.”
#30 (from the Saints): South Carolina CB Stephon Gilmore
“The Patriots’ defense ranks last in the NFL in pass defense, allowing almost 300 yards per game, and must be addressed in the draft. Gilmore is supremely confident and aggressive, playing with a chip on his shoulder and a finishing attitude. His active, physical playing style will make him a top-40 pick if he decides to turn pro.”
#31: Florida State OLB Brandon Jenkins
“New England’s hybrid defense relied on free agent acquisitions Andre Carter (before he landed on injured reserve) and Mark Anderson to be the primary pass rushers this season with better-than-expected results. However, the Patriots will undoubtedly look to add youth to the position this April and Jenkins (and his 20.5 career sacks) fits the bill.”
One more note: Notice that the Patriots’ pick is #31? That indicates that these analysts project the Patriots to be in the Super Bowl, but lose to…the Green Bay Packers.