Patriots: 3 linebackers New England can target in this draft class

JACKSONVILLE, FL - JANUARY 2: Linebacker Jamin Davis #44 of the University of Kentucky Wildcats (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
JACKSONVILLE, FL - JANUARY 2: Linebacker Jamin Davis #44 of the University of Kentucky Wildcats (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images) /
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Selecting a quarterback might be a quality path for the New England Patriots to go down as the NFL Draft comes ever closer, but there is still a need for some more skill at the linebacker position despite the fact that Kyle Van Noy has returned.

With the No. 15 pick in the draft, barring a trade-up in the order, New England will likely miss out on all of the top passers in this draft.

If that ends up being the case, adding another rover in the middle of an already stout defense could help the Patriots return to the postseason.

Nobody wants their free-agency spending spree to be for nought, after all.

This class has a couple of stars at the very top, like Penn State’s Micah Parsons, Notre Dame’s Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, and Tulsa’s Zaven Collins, but this is a very deep draft at that specific position, which should be a boon for a New England team that was deficient in that area without Dont’a Hightower last season.

The potential for New England to draft a linebacker isn’t just a fit that makes a lot of sense on draft Twitter, as Matt Miller is reporting that the Patriots might be a landing spot for Collins if he ends up in their laps.

If New England decides to go linebacker, one of these three studs, all of whom can be targeted in different rounds, would be ideal.

These 3 linebackers would be perfect Patriots after the 2021 NFL Draft.

Derrick Barnes, Patriots
WEST LAFAYETTE, INDIANA – NOVEMBER 28: Derrick Barnes #55 of the Purdue Boilermakers (Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

Patriots Day 3 Linebacker Target: Derrick Barnes, Purdue

At 6-1 and 245 pounds, Barnes has moved around to a few different spots in college, but he profiles as an off-ball linebacker in the pros. Barnes recorded 117 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, and 7.5 sacks during his final season at Purdue, and he should end up drafted somewhere on Day 3 after his standout college career.

Barnes is as impressive between the ears as he is on the field. Even in college, he showed a tremendous ability to read the offense, jump plays before they happen, position himself well enough to stop big runs from happening and deflect passes in coverage. Belichick loves versatility and smarts, and Barnes offers both of those things.

How would Derrick Barnes help the Patriots?

Fellow Boilermaker alum Ja’Whuan Bentley is not a very good athlete, yet Belichick has found a role for him due to his ability to stuff the run in between the tackles. Barnes has that same ability to plug up holes, but he offers a bit more versatility due to how he was used in college.

Barnes might not have the speed needed to hold down a starting role in the NFL, but he appears to be a high-floor guy that can fill a few different roles as a backup, all the while providing solid tackling in the open field. On Day 3, that’s about everything you can ask for out of a linebacker like Barnes.