He’d be a quick, explosive and slippery option for the Patriots in the slot with the potential to be used in more creative ways, as well, as some evaluators believe he can develop into a miniature version of Deebo Samuel.
Round 3, No. 90 overall: OL Cole Strange, Chattanooga
Assuming they plan to move Mike Onwenu back to his natural position of right guard following Shaq Mason’s departure, the Patriots have a gaping hole to the left of starting center David Andrews. Enter Strange, a rare five-year collegiate starter who played the bulk of his snaps at left guard (while also seeing action at left tackle and center).
Strange was a Senior Bowl standout — always a plus for the Patriots — who aced his combine workout, showing superb speed (90th percentile in the 40-yard dash), quickness (90th in short shuttle, 89th in three-cone), explosiveness ( 99th in broad jump, 83rd in 10-yard split) and strength (86th in bench press) at 6-5, 307.
The Patriots have shown a willingness to start rookies on the O-line (Mason, Onwenu, Joe Thuney, etc.), though Strange will face a larger step up in competition coming from an FCS program.
Round 4, No. 127 overall: CB Zyon McCollum, Sam Houston State
We try to keep things fresh in these mock drafts, but McCollum has been a staple in all three thus far. He just makes that much sense as an early-Day 3 target for the cornerback-needy Patriots.
Another FCS product, McCollum is a 6-foot-2, 199-pound ball hawk with excellent athleticism (most notably his elite 6.48-second three-cone time) who checks plenty of boxes as a college captain and productive special teamer who showcased his skills at the Senior Bowl.
Round 5, No. 170 overall: C.B. Jalyn Armour-Davis, Alabama
It wouldn’t be a proper Patriots mock draft without an Alabama product. They’ve selected four in the last three drafts and six in the last seven. Armour-Davis was just a one-year starter for Nick Saban’s program, but what he lacks in polish and experience, he makes up for in traits and potential. He has the requisite size for a New England outside corner (6-1, 197), ran a 4.39-second 40 and doesn’t shy from contact as a tackler.
With the Patriots needing to add speed to their cornerback room, Armour-Davis would be a worthwhile project.
Round 6, No. 210 overall: WR Bo Melton, Rutgers
“Bill Belichick loves Rutgers guys” is a well-worn saying, but it’s actually been nearly a decade since the Patriots drafted a Scarlet Knights product (Logan Ryan, Duron Harmon and Steve Beauharnais in 2013). But with longtime Belichick buddy Greg Schiano now back in Piscataway, don’t be surprised if that pipeline starts flowing again.