The Patriots’ pick is always tough to figure out. Bill Belichick plays things close to the vest and doesn’t give many tips about what his plans are during draft season.
This year, with the team picking in the top-15, it’s even more difficult to figure out what they’re going to do. They have a lot of needs on their roster including receiver, defensive line, quarterback, running back, cornerback, and linebacker. And Belichick is never afraid to draft with the distant future in mind.
As such, the Patriots could surprise here. Frankly, they could do anything, and that includes moving up — though that would only be for a more experienced quarterback like Justin Fields.
But generally speaking, the Patriots like to take players that fit their system. They like to add talents that improve their defense and offensive line, and they worry about the skill positions later. That’s why Zaven Collins seems like such a good fit for the Patriots here.
Collins was a linebacker in college but he has bulked up to 270 pounds in an effort to play the edge in a 3-4 defense. That should suit the 6-foot-4 Collins well, as he can use his size and length to be a fearsome pass rusher off the edge (he had four sacks last year) and can also fool teams occasionally in coverage (he had four picks last year). He’s athletic, productive, and by all accounts, is hard-working.
Pairing Collins with Dont’a Hightower and Kyle Van Noy would give the Patriots three versatile pieces to rotate around their 3-4 unit with Collins serving most as an edge rusher but still providing enough deception to give opposing offenses trouble.
Micah Parsons is another player that could draw consideration here, but his character may not check out enough for the Patriots. Caleb Farley would also make sense, but the injury red flags may make it tough for New England to take a chance on him.