Patriots’ best options if they trade up, trade back or stay at No. 23 overall

Ryan Hannable
April 10, 2020 - 9:43 am
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Everyone knows anything can happen when it comes to the Patriots and the NFL Draft with trades.

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Selecting at No. 23 overall, the team can easily move up, back, including out of the first round all together, or stand pat. Bill Belichick is so unpredictable and things can change so quickly on draft night, so it is impossible to predict what will happen.

Keeping that into consideration, here are some options for New England given all three scenarios — trading up, standing pat and trading back.

TRADE UP

WR Jerry Jeudy, Alabama

In a historic wide receiver class, Jeudy could be considered one of the best and if he slips below No. 10 overall, we could see the Patriots trading up to get him. At 6-foot-1, he is an elite route runner, has speed, quickness and an incredible ability to make contested catches. Last year as a junior, he finished with 77 catches for 1,163 yards and 10 touchdowns. Yes, the Patriots drafted N'Keal Harry in Round 1 last year, but the potential is there to be set for the years to come if one is selected again this year.

LB Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma

Losing Jamie Collins, Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Roberts this offseason, the Patriots need to think about this position for the future and Murray seems like a player who could be a dominant player in the middle of any defense.. Last fall, he recorded 102 tackles, including 17 for loss, and four sacks. If the Patriots believe he's that good and he’s available in the mid-to-late teens, we could see them trading up.

Edge Yetur Gross-Matos, Penn State

This is another position of need for the team and Gross-Matos is rising up draft boards a great deal of late. As a junior at Penn State last year, he finished with 40 tackles, 14.5 for loss and nine sacks. The team likely wouldn’t have to move up much to get him, but if they believe he’s as good as we do, moving up a few spots to secure him could be worth it.

STAND PAT

LB Patrick Queen, LSU

Queen is a very solid player and will likely be available in the early 20s. In a National Championship winning season at LSU, he recorded 85 tackles, including 12 for loss, three sacks and an interception. While he may be a tick down from Murray, Queen should have a solid NFL career and be a player a team does not regret drafting.

Edge A.J. Epenesa, Iowa

The Iowa edge rusher may not have the best testing numbers, but he’s a very productive player that put up incredible numbers. Last year as a junior, he recorded 49 tackles, 14 for loss and 11.5 sacks. This came following a 2018 season when he had 37 tackles, 16.5 for loss and 10.5 sacks. He’s been connected to New England in a number of different mock drafts.

OT Josh Jones, Houston

Offensive tackle isn’t a great position in this draft, but Jones is one of the best. If the Patriots feel like they really need to target this position, Jones would make a lot of sense at No. 23. The team reportedly had a video conference with the Houston product recently.

TRADE BACK

WR Tee Higgins, Clemson

Given how deep the wide receivers class is, Higgins could be a player who slips out of the first round and if the Patriots trade back, he would make a lot of sense early in Round 2. As a junior last season, he recorded 59 receptions for 1,167 yards and 13 touchdowns.

TE Cole Kmet, Notre Dame

Tight end is not a strong group this year and likely will not have one selected in the first round. When it comes to who is the best one, it is Kmet or Adam Trautman out of Dayton. Given the need on the Patriots’ roster, the team may need to make sure it comes away with one, and early in Round 2 makes some sense. Kmet had 43 receptions for 515 yards and six touchdowns last season.

S Kyle Dugger, Lenoir-Rhyne

This just feels like something Belichick would do. Dugger will likely not be a first-round selection, but given the Patriots’ need at safety it would make a lot of sense. Coming from a small school may be held against him, but Belichick could look at that as getting good value in a very athletic player. Despite playing in just seven games due to injury, he won the Cliff Harris Award which is given to the best defensive player in NCAA Division II. In seven games he totaled two interceptions, two pass breakups, while also being a dynamic punt returner.

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