NFL DRAFT

Patriots Draft Preview: Linebacker and edge – Some tantalizing prospects to increase front 7 playmakers

Tulsa's Zaven Collins (Getty Images)

The Patriots have a few positions that they figure to hit with some premium picks — quarterback, linebacker, offensive tackle, cornerback, safety and possibly edge — in the draft starting Thursday. We've already addressed the QBs in two parts (first-rounders, the second group), and we'll tick through the other positions by giving you our picks early, middle and late:

LINEBACKER

2022 free agents: Dont'a Hightower, Ja'Whaun Bentley.
2022 starters as of today: Josh Uche, Anfernee Jennings.

Need: HIGH.

Draft class: Good and deep.

EARLY PROSPECTS

1. Micah Parsons, Penn State (6-3, 246 pounds, 4.36 in 40): Opt-out player. Phenomenal size and speed combination — and plays fast as well, especially on blitzes from the second level. Can man and zone cover. More of a chance linebacker than slugger in the middle, but he will take on blocks and get to the right shoulder. Had character concerns in his career that will have to be checked out. Has issues diagnosing misdirection play — can look bad on them. That would indicate slow processing. Not sure he would ever be a Mike for the Patriots, but he would make a dandy duo with Dont'a Hightower for the next year or so, and then you see.

2. Zaven Collins, Tulsa (6-5, 259, 4.65)