The New England Patriots are reportedly ironing out a trade up to the eighth overall pick with the Carolina Panthers. After going 7-9 and missing the playoffs for the first time in forever, head coach Bill Belichick has been wildly aggressive in efforts to turn his team back into a contender. The eight-time Super Bowl champion clearly believes this team is just a player or two away from contention, but which player is most likely to be the choice at the eighth-overall pick?
Who Could New England Patriots Trade Up For in NFL Draft?
Mac Jones/Justin Fields
For the sake of this article, we’re going to assume that Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, and Trey Lance are off the board before the Patriots have a chance to trade up. Lawrence and Wilson are locked in as the top two picks in the draft, while the 49ers are reportedly deciding between Jones and Lance. If they pick Jones, Lance will probably go off the board somewhere in the next few picks.
If given the choice between the two quarterbacks, the Patriots would probably go with Mac Jones. This definitely isn’t something that I would do, as I personally feel the quarterback was the product of the perfect environment. However, I am not Bill Belichick, and all reports indicate the team is high on the Alabama passer.
New England’s reported opinion on Justin Fields varies dramatically depending on who you ask. Leaguewide reporters like Tom Pelissero and Mel Kiper believe that the Patriots would love to take him with the eighth overall pick, while more local sources like Mike Lombardi (whose son is on the coaching staff), Tom Curran, and Doug Kyed do not think the team is high on the Ohio State product. Time will ultimately tell which side is right, as there is a pretty good shot Fields will still be on the board when New England trades up.
Jaylen Waddle/DeVonta Smith
If New England doesn’t believe they can get a franchise quarterback with the eighth overall pick, then they should do everything they can to support the guys currently on the roster. After fielding the worst supporting cast in the league over the past two years, New England went crazy and loaded up on weapons throughout the offseason. The team signed tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith to massive deals and also brought in some nice supporting depth in Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne.
The supporting cast is solid, but they still lack the big-play threat. Enter Jaylen Waddle. Waddle was absolutely unstoppable during his time at Alabama, and it’s hard to see that changing at the NFL level. The speedy receiver is more than just a one-trick pony, as he runs great routes and is capable of winning contested passes at an above-average rate. He’s a danger to take it to the house every time he touches the ball and his experience as a returner shows up on screens and short routes. He’d be the perfect Patriot and fill one of the last true voids on this roster.
Alternatively, the Patriots could go after the other great Alabama wide receiver in this draft. DeVonta Smith’s tiny frame makes him a pretty large risk in the top 10, but nobody is denying the upside. He moves all around the formation, runs crisp routes, and catches just about anything thrown in his zip code. Cam Newton struggled last year, but he will improve if given either one of these receivers.
Some NFL experts believe that the Patriots will package Stephon Gilmore to move up to the eighth overall pick. If that’s the case, then New England might as well draft the next Stephon Gilmore using that very pick. From an athletic standpoint, Jaycee Horn is an absolute freak of nature with limitless potential. He thrives in man coverage, and New England’s defense is always at its best when playing physical, tight coverage.
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