2021 NFL Mock Draft roundup: Patriots' first-round pick predictions

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Darren Hartwell
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NFL Mock Draft roundup: Experts divided on Patriots' first-rounder originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

New England fans hoping the Patriots take a big swing in the 2021 NFL Draft might be in luck.

The Patriots own the No. 15 pick in this year's draft, their highest selection since 2008, when they nabbed linebacker Jerod Mayo at No. 10.

There's been plenty of speculation about New England using that pick -- or trading up into the top 10 -- to select one of several elite quarterbacks who could compete with Cam Newton for the starting job.

Curran: Do Patriots have a shot at landing Falcons' No. 4 pick?

Even if the Patriots don't draft a QB, though, they have needs at other high-profile positions such as wide receiver, cornerback and linebacker. So, what might Bill Belichick and Co. do with their best draft asset in 13 years?

We scoured the most recent batch of NFL Mock Drafts to see what the experts have New England doing with the No. 15 pick. As you'll discover, the jury is very much still out.

Kwity Paye, Defensive End, Michigan

Mock Draft (Pick): Phil Perry, NBC Sports Boston (No. 15)

Perry's analysis: "Kwity Paye is the one name that kind of stands out as a real elite talent on the edge. He comes from a program that I love, that I trust. I know I'm getting a quality guy, getting a quality human being, but I'm also getting a rare specimen athletically on the edge, a cornerstone position. That's the guy I'm really kind of locked in on right now."

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Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

Mock Draft (Pick): Todd McShay, ESPN (No. 11 via New York Giants)

McShay's analysis: "I'm not sure the Patriots would jump into the top 10 for a QB, but hopping four spots for one is very much a possibility. The Giants could certainly stay put and draft Penei Sewell, but they could also be looking at defense -- which means a slide back makes some sense. And for their troubles, the Patriots would likely send them something in the ballpark of a third-rounder this year (No. 96) and either a second- or third-rounder in 2022."

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

Mock Draft (Pick): Ryan Wilson, CBS Sports (No. 15)

Wilson's analysis: "Yes, the Pats signed Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne (not to mention Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith) but DeVonta Smith is a special talent. It's also reasonable to expect that Smith is off the board by this point, and that the Pats make a move up for a QB since they filled just about every other need in free agency."

Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

Mock Draft (Pick): Ben Linsey, Pro Football Focus (No. 10 via Dallas Cowboys)

Linsey's analysis: "Jones is the last consensus first-round talent at the position. His accuracy and control of that Alabama offense should be draws for New England, who can’t necessarily sit back and wait for him to drop to the 15th overall pick with teams such as Washington and Chicago potentially looking to move up. Dallas could be a willing trade partner with (Kyle) Pitts and (Patrick) Surtain (II) off the board already in this scenario."

Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

Mock Draft (Pick): Lance Zierlein, NFL.com (No. 15)

Zierlein's analysis: "Parsons could slip due to character concerns, but he's super talented and Bill Belichick's 'Patriots Way' might be a good fit for the young linebacker."