Todd McShay's new 2021 NFL Mock Draft has Patriots taking elite defensive prospect

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Nick Goss
·2 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

Todd McShay's new NFL Mock Draft has Patriots taking elite defensive prospect originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The New England Patriots are one of the most interesting teams to watch with the 2021 NFL Draft on the horizon.

The Patriots are expected to be aggressive this offseason in improving a roster that struggled to a 7-9 record and saw the team's 11-year postseason streak come to an end last season.

Quarterback is the obvious position of need. Neither Cam Newton nor Jarrett Stidham impressed enough to be the obvious starter for Week 1 of the 2021 season.

2021 NFL free agency predictions: Patriots' free-agent destinations on offense

There are plenty of question marks on defense, too. Linebacker depth needs to be improved, the pass rush has to be bolstered and the secondary needs another injection of youth.

ESPN expert Todd McShay published his third 2021 NFL Mock Draft on Friday, and he projects the Patriots selecting Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons with the No. 15 pick in the first round.

Here is McShay's explanation for the Parsons pick:

"I'm watching for the Patriots to add a quarterback via free agency or trade this offseason -- maybe Jimmy Garoppolo -- and potentially take a close look at the Day 2 options at the position. But with the top five off the board, another need matches up with some great value in the form of Parsons. The Penn State do-it-all linebacker opted out in 2020, but he can make plays in coverage, shoot gaps as a run-stopper, chase down ball carriers and even get home on the QB as a pass-rusher. I love his game."

Predicting where Patriots' defensive free agents will land

Parsons opted out of the 2020 season. He last played for Penn State in 2019 and tallied 52 tackles, five sacks, five passes defensed, four forced fumbles and one fumble recovery over 13 games. The Penn State star was ranked as the No. 10 prospect in the entire class in ESPN expert Mel Kiper Jr.'s latest big board.

The Patriots reportedly will get veteran linebacker Dont'a Hightower back in 2021 after he opted out of the 2020 campaign due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This addition is a huge help to New England's defense.

That said, adding further depth at the position should be a goal for the Patriots in the offseason, and Parsons' all-around skill set would be tough to pass on if he's available when New England is on the clock in Round 1.

If the top five quarterbacks are off the board at No. 15, which is the case in McShay's latest mock draft, taking the best defensive player on the board would make sense for the Pats.