In Mel Kiper Jr.'s latest mock draft, he has the Patriots selecting quarterback Daniel Jones out of Duke. But, that obviously doesn't mean it will happen, especially with the Patriots selecting at No. 32 overall.
Speaking on a conference call Tuesday, Kiper was asked about potential plug-and-play defensive tackles at No. 32 overall for the Patriots and he had a few interesting names.
“There are several if they got down that far that could be that type of player," he said. "Jerry Tillery from Notre Dame, Dre’Mont Jones from Ohio State, Gerald Willis out of Miami of Florida are all in that first-round discussion. The interesting one is going to be Jeffery Simmons from Mississippi State. You have a kid that has top-10 talent, some might argue top-5 talent that would be there because he had the off the field issue and then the ACL injury, so if you want to medically red-shirt him maybe for a year, you’re getting a top-5, top-10 talent with the final pick in the first round. He is a tremendous defensive tackle prospect."
It wouldn't be a complete shock to see the Patriots take a defensive tackle in the first round, as the need is clearly there. Upgrading this position is one of their top priorities behind wide receiver and tight end. It seems likely Malcom Brown and Danny Shelton won't be re-signed, so there spots need to be filled.
Also, the Patriots haven't been afraid to take defensive tackles in the first round as they took them in back-to-back years (2014 and 2015).
Obviously a lot will play out between now and April's draft, but defensive tackle is certainly a position to keep in mind.