Five things the New England Patriots shouldn't do in the 2021 NFL Draft

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DJ Bean
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Bean: Five things I don't want the Patriots to do in the NFL Draft originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

We never know what Bill Belichick is going to do in the NFL Draft, but it’s fun to discuss what we want him to do.

It’s never been easier than in this year’s draft, where the Pats are picking unusually high (15th overall) and still have some big needs. We’ve found our favorite prospects and our ideal scenarios, but what moves would make us throw our hands up and sigh? 

Here are five things I don’t want the Patriots to do in this week's 2021 NFL Draft:

Avoid drafting a wide receiver again 

When the Patriots traded up one spot ahead of the Ravens in the third round last year, John Harbaugh feared they were taking Texas receiver Devin Duvernay, whom Baltimore intended to take with the next pick. The Pats took tight end Devin Asiasi instead.

It made sense for the Ravens to be worried. The Patriots desperately needed receivers, but they punted on the position completely in the draft despite it being a loaded class. This is another good receiver year.

NFL Draft rumors: Are the Patriots considering moving up to take Justin Fields?

New England should take a receiver in the first or second round. Trading up for Ja’Marr Chase is a pipe dream. Ideally, Jaylen Waddle falls to them at No. 15 or they move up a few picks to get the Alabama receiver. If that doesn’t happen, they should still aim to come out of the draft with one of Rashod Bateman, Terrace Marshall, Elijah Moore, Kadarius Toney or Rondale Moore. 

Notice whose name I didn’t mention ... 

Spend a first-round pick on DeVonta Smith 

The Heisman winner is an unreal talent. Alabama has had some incredible receivers the last couple of years and no one lit it up like Smith. The only question with Smith is his size, and that question got a lot bigger last week when he weighed in at 166 pounds. 

Full stop. Can’t do it. Gotta pass. 

I’m not saying Smith will be a bust, because I don’t know that. I just don’t think the Patriots can afford to take the risk, given their history of drafting receivers. They should be on the lookout for major red flags; Smith being that light is one. 

Since 2000, only two receivers under 175 pounds have been drafted in the first round. Tavon Austin was a top-10 bust and the jury is out on Hollywood Brown, though he looks to be a decent player. 

Patriots Talk Podcast: Thomas Dimitroff goes deep on the ’21 draft class and Patriots' approach | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

Not that the Patriots know much about getting good receivers, but a look at their roster would suggest they’ll stay away. The lightest receivers on New England’s roster are Gunner Olszewski and Isaiah Zuber, both of whom are 190 pounds.

It’s possible Smith isn’t even there at No. 15, but if he is, I’d take a safer player. 

Take Kwity Paye at No. 15

I’ll be honest: I’m nervous writing this because I could absolutely see it happening.

If the Pats are going to take an edge rusher in the first round, I’d just rather them move down and do it. If they chose one 15th overall, they’d likely be the first team in the draft doing so, but there isn’t a consensus stud there in this draft. It’s reasonable to guess they’d like Paye given that they love drafting front-seven players from Michigan lately (Chase Winovich, Josh Uche).

Will they continue the Michigan fascination? I’d rather them not, as it’s not like Winovich and Uche are stars. 

Take a QB for the sake of it 

I’m talking about the Browns taking DeShone Kizer in 2017. They clearly weren’t high on him, but they grabbed him in the second round just because he fell. It didn’t work out (shocker), and the opportunity cost was massive. In taking Kizer with that pick, they passed on both Alvin Kamara and JuJu Smith-Schuster, both of whom went in the next 15 selections. 

I’d rather see a team reach for a quarterback they really like (a la the Bills swinging and missing on E.J. Manuel in 2013) than see a team say "we guess we’ll take this guy" with a high pick. It’s all about potential fit. If the Patriots don’t believe in Kyle Trask, Kellen Mond or whomever, they shouldn’t take them.

Yes, it leaves the gaping hole at the position open for another year, but at least it isn’t a waste of a pick. 

Feel locked into No. 15

This is hopefully the last time the Patriots’ record earns them this high a pick for a while. 

That said, they shouldn’t feel that just because they have an unusually high pick, that they need to stay there. If the ideal player they wanted isn’t there, I’ve got no issue with them moving down if they think they can get the next guy on their list a little lower. 

I’m sure everyone’s cool with them potentially moving up, but moving down wouldn’t necessarily be a bad idea. The Patriots might be able to get a similar player at No. 20 to the one they’d get at 15, so if they can grab an extra third and then take a Zaven Collins or Rashod Bateman, I’d be happy with that. Plus, they could use that extra capital to move up in the second round or into the late first. 

For the heck of it, I used the PFF Mock Draft Simulator and moved down from No. 15 in a trade with the Bears that yielded picks No. 20 and 83. I took Bateman at 20, then traded Nos. 46 and 83 to the Ravens for No. 27 and took Collins. That’s a very solid first two picks for the Pats. 

If you’d rather them get a quarterback, they can take one instead of a linebacker with that second pick, but you get the idea. Moving down a little bit from 15th would allow them to maneuver with their other picks.