It’s hard to look at Alabama’s offense last season and not think, “Oh, I want our team to get some.”
Crimson Tide have been absolutely crazy on offense this year. It is one thing to look at the numbers (averaging nearly 6.5 touchdowns per game and 7.81 yards per game). Another was to look at the individual talents they had and see them dominate the competition.
He was really very different from the New England Patriots this season. So often, the New England offense was forced to scratch and claw every inch with Cam Newton at the helm. In Alabama, with Mac Jones passing to DeVonta Smith and go to Najee Harris, The gains of 20 yards were distributed like candy.
So what are the chances that the Patriots will be able to get hold of some of that talent to inject into their own offense? Good enough, including a couple of ideal choices.
Here are the four main options, along with a series of draft projections based on the lists of NFL Mock Draft database.
WR DeVonta Smith
Screenings: up to n. 3 | Starting from n. 18 | Most common: No. 6
The newly crowned Heisman Trophy winner will likely not be on the scoreboard when the Patriots pick at number 15. He’s fast, agile, a great course runner and makes outstanding catches. It’s hard to see him drop from the top 10 after the season he’s had.
The only way this happens is if the teams are too busy with its size. It’s tall enough (6 ft-1), but its 174-pound frame is awfully light for the NFL.
But considering how he just set fire to the often NFL-ready SEC, he stands a good chance.
The Patriots don’t have much of a chance with him unless they switch.
WR Jaylen Waddle
Screenings: up to n. 6 | Starting from n. 30 | Most common: No. 11
Waddle may end up being a better prospect than his teammate. While Smith played and won Heisman, Waddle was out for much of the season due to an ankle injury. However, he returned for limited action in the national league match, a good sign for his health outlook.
Waddle drew comparisons to Kansas City Chiefs star Tyreek Hill. It’s undersized at 5ft 10,183lbs, but has groundbreaking speed. It’s one thing to be fast, it’s another to exploit that athleticism and channel it into an offense.
Over the course of his career, Waddle has demonstrated the ability to explode downfield on tape, creating separation and making defenders seem slow.
Normally, the Patriots wouldn’t have a chance with this kind of perspective. Normally, Waddle will not fall in the middle of Round 1.
But this is not a normal year. Waddle has been injured and there is a deep class of senior quarterback available. Additionally, preliminary assessments may be limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
If Waddle’s stash remains tepid, the Patriots could have the possibility of an absolute steal – and the profound threat fans have been craving for so long.
QB Mac Jones
Screenings: up to n. 3 | Starting from n. 30
Here are Jones’ stats from the 2020 college football season: 4,500 yards (1st), 77.4% completion (1st), 41 TD (2nd), 4 INT, 203.1 passer rating (1st), 11.2 yards per attempt (T-1st).
No one has been more successful than Jones in throwing football this season. Now, why isn’t he the number one prospect? Well, this is where we get into the whole production with respect to the projection side of the project.
Jones has a decent NFL size: 6ft-3, 214lbs. There are no serious concerns about his arm strength, but also little buzz. Basically check all the boxes you need in a good NFL quarterback.
In the end it comes down to this: how much of his output can be attributed to the fact that his offense was absolutely charged?
Sure, Jones was burning the defenses. But Smith had a more open knack for getters than anyone else in the country. Additionally, the teams had to face yet another Heisman candidate Najee Harris off the pitch.
Jones has never amazed people like Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence or Ohio State’s Justin Field did. It’s right? Not exactly. All Jones did was execute the attack at peak performance.
The prospects for Jones are everywhere. Is it a case of NFL pundits thinking too much about things, or is Jones a supporter of a juggernaut offense?
We won’t really know until he takes the field. But the interviews with the teams will likely play a major factor in the future. He is a proven winner and could win over teams with his leadership skills and ability to pick up an NFL offense.
RB Najee Harris
Screenings: up to n. 16 | Starting from the second round | Most common: No. 23
Do the Patriots need a new running back? Not exactly. They already have a Harris (Damien) from Alabama who is pretty good at tackling.
Is it a good idea to spend a first-round pick on a running back? Probably not. Sony Michel is still around.
Is Najee Harris the Patriots the best chance of getting your own Derrick Henry? Absolutely.
The 6ft 2 230lbs Harris is big, fast, elusive, powerful, consistent and versatile. It does everything right. He ran 1,466 yards and 26 touchdowns this season at a 5.8-yard clip per carry. This is after averaging 5.9 yards per carry as a junior.
Harris could end up coming off the scoreboard at the end of the first round, especially if teams fall in love with his training numbers and interviews.
On the other hand, it could slip a bit in round two, making it a potential target if the Patriots decide to make a trade from Round 1 (or a trade in Round 2).
OT Alex Leatherwood
Screenings: up to n. 13 | Starting from n. 32
At 6 feet-6, 310 pounds, Leatherwood has the long frame you look for in an NFL tackle. He also has experience on guard. He has all the physical traits and versatility that the Patriots normally look for in an offensive lineman. It would be a solid choice to help build the offensive line for the future, especially if the Patriots swap and get lucky.
Lightning Round: Players who have been projected onto the Patriots in recent teasing
TE Kyle Pitts, Florida – If he can pull off, it could be all fans want in a tight finish.
QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State – A sophomore redshirt student who started as a freshman and only played one game in 2020 at an FCS school. Lance is an absolute joker who is considered gifted with great physical skills.
QB Mac Jones, Alabama – See above
WR Jaylen Waddle, Alabama – See above
WR Rashod Bateman, Minnesota – Batemen is an underrated talent in a draft class full of elite talent to championship contenders. Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Network compared him to Michael Thomas of the New Orleans Saints.
WR Elijah Moore, Ole Miss – Moore is an extraordinarily talented receiver. However, he’s best known nationally for celebrating a touchdown in 2019 by getting on all fours and imitating a dog doing his business. The ensuing penalty resulted in Ole Miss missing a tie PAT in the closing seconds.
OL Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC – A versatile offensive lineman who could really help the Patriots if they lose Joe Thuney in the off-season. However, it doesn’t take the steps, which will likely never go well with fans.
DE Gregory Rousseau, Miami – I’m not sure it’s the ideal solution. The Patriots have managed more than a 3-4 scheme in the past few years. At 6 feet-5,260 pounds, Rousseau fits the classic 4-3 defensive mold. However, he is a high pass player who could help out in a role similar to what Deatrich Wise did.
LB Micah Parsons, Penn State – It could be argued that the Patriots need the help of the linebacker more than they need the help of the receiver.
And finally, the craziest projection I’ve ever seen
WR Ja’Marr Chase, LSU – I gave it a double try when I did seen this projection. Chase is the No. 1 in the class. If anything, a take like this shows that this receiver crop is pretty good. If the Patriots do end up with Chase, it will be because they traded – or something crazy happened that shook his draft stocks between now and April.
- According to this source WR Jaylen Waddle, QB Mac Jones and How the Patriots Can Get a Piece of the Alabama Death Star Offense | Nick O’Malley (NFL Draft notebook)
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