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Kelley: New England Patriots Seven Round Mock Draft

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Newly-named New England Patriots head coach Jerod Mayo, left, and Patriots owner Robert Kraft shake hands Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2024, following an NFL football news conference, in Foxborough, Mass. Mayo succeeds Bill Belichick as the franchise's 15th head coach. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

The 2024 NFL Draft takes place in just over two weeks, I am posting a New England Patriots seven-round mock draft every Wednesday until the start of the draft on April 25. Last week I posted an entire seven-round NFL Mock Draft in place of the regular Patriots version. This week sees the return of the “Weekly Wednesday” exercise. It is the fourth version to be published here.

I’ve tried switching up the approach in every version, taking different positions in different rounds to see how that would affect the outcome. This week there is another twist. The only players eligible to be drafted by New England are the known players to be invited for a Top 30 visit with the team.

Previous drafts used the Pro Football Focus mock draft simulator. However, this week will switch over to the Pro Football Network version, as it includes more players. I will draft for the New England Patriots and post the results for the seven rounds. Only one attempt will be given each week for the draft. No trades will be made (at least for now).

These will be my selections for the Patriots, not who I believe they would draft. That is a different exercise for another day.

Without further ado, the 2024 NFL Draft selections for the New England Patriots.

Round 1 (No. 3 overall) – QB J.J. McCarthy, Michigan

Drake Maye went No. 2 to Washington, so the choice came down to Jayden Daniels and J.J. McCarthy. Although Daniels would likely be my call here (he is ranked one spot higher on my quarterback rankings) I did want to see how it looked and felt to make McCarthy the selection at three. His stock has been rapidly rising, with rumors that Eliot Wolf is a big fan of J.J. McCarthy. McCarthy would need to sit a season in all likelihood. He doesn’t turn 22 until 2025. He possesses all of the intangibles, including excellent fundamentals, leadership qualities, and a winning pedigree.

Round 2 (No. 34 overall) – OT Tyler Guyton, Oklahoma

I expected this decision to come down to offensive tackle Kingsley Suamataia (BYU) and wide receiver Troy Franklin (Oregon). However, Suamataia was selected in Round 1 and there were other wide receivers ahead of Franklin available that did not qualify for this list (Adonai Mitchell, Texas). Since Guyton was the top tackle on the board, taking him seemed like the more honest selection here. At 6-foot-8 and 322 pounds Guyton has excellent size, yet maintains a good center of gravity and moves fluidly. He played for both TCU and Oklahoma in college. Although his time with the Sooners was mostly spent at right tackle (14 of 18 games) making the move over to the left side seems well within reason for the big man.

Round 3 (No. 68 overall) – ED Austin Booker, Kansas

Booker is a very intriguing prospect, having played just 505 college snaps before declaring for the NFL. That is not much time to go from a three-star high school recruit to a Day 2 NFL Draft pick. However, that looks to be exactly what has happened to Austin Booker. He transferred from Minnesota after two seasons, appearing in only three games with the Golden Gophers. In 2023 Booker earned first-team All-Big 12 honors and was named the conference’s Defensive Newcomer of the Year. At 6-foot-4.5 and 240 pounds, Booker looks like he could still add significant bulk to his frame and play more along the line instead of as a pass-rushing specialist standing up.

Round 4 (No. 103) – WR Javon Baker, UCF

Waiting until Round 4 to add a wide receiver is not ideal. Fortunately, Javon Baker is a receiver good enough to be taken on Day 2. In fact, in the last New England Patriots seven-round mock draft on here, Baker was selected in Round 3 and there were no restrictions on who to select. The Central Florida wideout averaged 21.9 yards per reception in 2023, the most of any Power-5 Conference player. He finished with 52 receptions for 1,139 yards and seven scores. He may have to immediately apologize to Tyler Guyton for blowing a kiss to Oklahoma’s sideline on his way to the endzone in last season’s matchup.

Round 5 (No. 137) – TE Jaheim Bell, Florida State

New England adds depth to their tight ends unit, picking up Jaheim Bell here. He is one of two tight ends to get a known Top 30 visit with the Patriots so far (TCU’s Jared Wiley being the other). Bell comes from the winningest high school program in history at Valdosta High School in Valdosta, Ga. It is the same school once attended by former New England Patriots wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell. He played his first three seasons at South Carolina, starring in the 2021 Duke’s Mayo Bowl with five receptions for 159 yards and two touchdowns. The 6-foot-2, 241-pound tight end transferred to Florida State following the 2022 season. He helped the Seminoles to an undefeated regular season in 2023, catching 39 passes for 502 yards and two touchdowns.

Round 6 (No. 186) – CB DeCamerion Richardson, Mississippi State

The first of two MSU Bulldogs selected here, Richardson is the only cornerback with a known Top 30 invite thus far. It is somewhat surprising that Richardson is not higher on draft boards. He has good height at 6-foot-2, though he could benefit from some added muscle to his 188-pound frame. DeCamerion Richardson was ranked as the most athletic cornerback at the NFL Scouting Combine. His performance included an impressive 4.34 in the 40-yard dash. Richardson also had good on-field productions for Mississippi State, earning an 86.4 grade from Pro Football Focus in his senior season. His athleticism alone makes him an attractive Day 3 pick with the potential to blossom.

Round 6 (No. 193) – OT Caeden Wallace, Penn State

New England double-dips at offensive tackle here with the addition of Caeden Wallace. He came out of high school as a guard prospect, third-highest ranked in the Class of 2019. He appeared in 47 games for Penn State, starting 41. Wallace was a right tackle for the Nittany Lions, playing opposite first-round prospect Olu Fashanu. His size (6-foot-5, 314 pounds), athleticism (No. 8 offensive tackle at the combine), and experience make him a good gamble at this stage of the draft.

Round 7 (No. 231) – LB Nathaniel Watson, Mississippi State

Grabbing the SEC Defensive Player of the Year at No. 231 is a solid way to conclude the 2024 NFL Draft for the New England Patriots. Nathaniel Watson produced positive results when he was on the field for the Bulldogs. He led the SEC in tackles (137) and tied for the confernce lead in sacks (10.0). He is the first player in SEC history to lead the conference in both categories.  While Watson may not have ideal athleticism to continue being as productive at the next level, his productivity and football instincts make him well worth the risk at this stage of the draft.

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