BOSTON (CBS) -- For those about to mock, we salute you.
The hype around the NFL Draft is ramping up, with the annual three-day extravaganza now less than three weeks away. The combine is a distant memory, Pro Days have been held, and in the truest sign that the draft is right around the corner, mock drafts are everywhere.
And as the mockers tend to do, they're trying to get inside the hood of Bill Belichick and predict whomst the Patriots will be selecting on April 25 (and in a few cases, April 26 and 27 as well). The Patriots are armed with 12 picks, including six in the first three rounds:
1st Round, 32nd overall (own)
2nd Round, 56th overall (via Chicago)
2nd Round, 64th overall (own)
3rd Round, 73rd overall (via Detroit)
3rd Round, 97th overall (comp pick for Nate Solder)
3rd Round, 101st overall (comp pick for Malcolm Butler)
4th Round, 134th overall (own)
6th Round, 205th overall (comp pick for Danny Amendola)
7th Round, 239th overall (via Philadelphia)
7th Round, 243rd overall (via Cleveland)
7th Round, 246th overall (own)
7th Round, 252nd overall (comp pick for Cameron Fleming)
The Patriots have a bevvy of needs on their roster, beginning with the gigantic hole to fill at tight end thanks to Rob Gronkowski's retirement. They could also use a wide receiver or two, some depth along the defensive line, and a quarterback to groom behind Tom Brady.
Here's a quick roundup of how the mockers are mocking up the 2019 NFL draft for the Patriots:
1st Round, No. 32: Chase Winovich, Edge, Michigan
Winovich's nonstop motor, great hand usage and quickness will give the Patriots much-needed depth at edge rusher after losing Trey Flowers in free agency.
2nd Round, No. 56: N'Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
Harry reminds us of Anquan Boldin, and he'll be one piece of the puzzle to replace Rob Gronkowski's production in New England.
2nd Round, No. 64: Jace Sternberger, TE, Texas A&M
Sternberger is the latest name in a deep tight end class. He's not the blocker that Hockenson or Smith (or Rob Gronkowski, who retired on Sunday) may be but he's every bit as dynamic when it comes to stretching the field.
3rd Round, No. 73: Khalen Saunders, DT, Western Illinois
Thick, compactly built and athletic, Saunders is a pocket collapser who excelled at the FCS level.
3rd Round, No. 97: Will Grier, QB, West Virginia
Grier had a impressive career at West Virginia but questions about inconsistency and arm strength see him fall to the bottom of Round 3.
3rd Round, No. 101: Isaiah Johnson, CB, Houston
A converted wide receiver, Johnson is 6-2, 208 pounds and extremely physical. He's still learning the position but he has all the tools teams want in an NFL cornerback, it just may take a few seasons.
1st Round, No. 32: Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson
The Patriots may see Lawrence as much more than a two-down run stopper. He can create push as a pass rusher thanks to his hand work and raw power.
2nd Round, No. 56: Andy Isabella, WR, UMass
Can't help myself here. Isabella would destroy underneath and provide a legitimate deep threat in New England.
2nd Round, No. 64: Darnell Savage, S, Maryland
The Patriots secondary is intact from last year, yet Savage's incredible speed would be too appealing to pass up here.
Jaylon Ferguson, DL, Louisiana Tech
The Patriots lost Trey Flowers in free agency and they've got pass rushers on hand, but it wouldn't be surprising if they dove into the position in the draft either.
Dalton Risner, T, Kansas State
Yes, Gronk has left the building, and the TE position looks particularly bereft for the Patriots, but when has New England done exactly as predicted? The O-line gets great help with Risner, who can plug in and play well from Day 1. He played center, guard and tackle at K-State, and I love his overall backstory/makeup/consistently excellent play.
Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
Tom Brady can play until he is 45 and then Lock will take over!
The folks over at Walter Football obviously love football. Maybe a little too much. So much that they went ahead and mocked the first six rounds. Not all heroes wear capes; some of them take a shot at predicting 213 draft selections.
1st Round, No. 32: Jeffery Simmons, DL, Mississippi State
The Patriots once selected Dominique Easley in the first round even though it was clear that he was a major injury risk. Given that, I think it's certainly possible that New England will use their first pick on Jeffery Simmons, who, according to Charlie Campbell's reports, still has a chance to be chosen late in the opening round. Simmons, of course, tore his ACL, but he's a top-10 talent and should be viewed as a steal at No. 32 overall.
2nd Round, No. 56: Irv Smith, TE, Alabama
Rob Gronkowski just announced his retirement, so the Patriots should spend an early pick on a tight end.
Irv Smith Jr. is a dangerous threat after the catch, and he has good route-running skills and nice hands.
2nd Round, No. 64: Andy Isabella, WR, UMass
Is there a more "Patriot" receiver than Andy Isabella in this draft class? I imagine Bill Belichick will be intrigued, especially with my alleged fourth cousin Julian Edelman turning 33 in May.
3rd Round, No. 73: Clayton Thorson, QB, Northwestern
The Patriots have traded all of their potential successors for Tom Brady, so they'll need to find a new one.
Clayton Thorson is an underrated prospect because of his dreadful supporting cast. He has plus mechanics, and he can make any pass, fitting throws into tight windows. He has a nice arm, and he's also smart and athletic. He could be a second-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
3rd Round, No. 97: Amani Hooker, CB, Iowa
Here's a potential replacement for the other McCourty brother, as New England needs some young defensive backs. Amani Hooker is extremely versatile. In addition to safety, he can be used at cornerback and linebacker as well.
3rd Round, No. 101: David Long, CB, Michigan
The Patriots don't have much depth at cornerback, which is a problem, especially considering that Jason McCourty is nearing retirement.
David Long was one of the top performers in the drills at the combine. He also tested very well.
4th Round, No. 134: David Sills, WR, West Virginia
The Patriots need plenty of help in their receiving corps. They could add a couple of players at the position in the draft.
David Sills has great size at 6-4, 203, and his hands are a positive attribute as well.
6th Round, No. 205: Tyrel Dodson, LB, Texas A&M
The Patriots have needed help at linebacker for a long time, and I could see them doubling up at the position.
Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN (Insider Content)
1st Round, No. 32: Irv Smith Jr., TE, Alabama
Bill Belichick could address the front seven, but I like Smith here as a potential Gronk replacement.
2nd Round, No. 56: Khalen Saunders, DT, Western Illinois
The Patriots lost a few starters this offseason and need to add depth in the front seven. Saunders, a four-year starter at Western Illinois, could develop into a starter.
2nd Round, No. 64: Jarrett Stidham, QB, Auburn
This is quarterback No. 6 in the first two rounds. Stidham had an inconsistent 2018, but he has the tools to be a starter in the NFL. And Tom Brady can't play forever ...
Todd McShay, ESPN (Insider Content)
1st Round, No. 32: Irv Smith Jr., TE, Alabama
The Pats have 12 picks, and history suggests they'll wait until Day 2 to get their future quarterback project. I agree with Mel here -- Smith is a matchup nightmare.
2nd Round, No. 56: Daniel Jones, QB Duke
Time to take a shot at the heir to Tom Brady on the Patriots' QB throne. Jones will need time to develop -- he doesn't have a cannon and needs work under pressure -- but luckily Brady isn't going anywhere just yet.
2nd Round, No. 64: Gerald Willis III, DT, Miami
Trey Flowers and Malcom Brown are elsewhere, so Bill Belichick would be happy to land this fierce defensive lineman.
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