February 10, 2017
New England Patriots: Carl Lawson, Jabrill Peppers On 2017 NFL Draft Radar?

The New England Patriots are coming off of their second Super Bowl win in three years, and fifth overall since the 2002 title game, so this team deserves some serious R&R, right? Well, don't tell that to head Coach Bill Belichick. While the Patriots are currently enjoying their latest championship run, Belichick, who is known for his hard work ethic, is worried that New England is already 4-5 weeks behind the other teams in terms of preparing for the draft, mini-camps and early offseason preparations.

That may sound ridiculous to many fans, as Belichick is relentless when it comes to always wanting to win and doing what it takes to put his team in a position to do so.

So with the upcoming NFL Draft just around the corner, who will the Patriots add to their championship roster as their drive to win back-to-back championships begins?

While it seems like all of the NFL mock draft experts have New England choosing different players with their first two selections, the one thing many of the online NFL GM's are agreeing on is that the Pats will draft defense first.

According to a Boston.com report, Auburn's Carl Lawson and Michigan's Jabrill Peppers may be on the Patriots watch list.

Peppers brings a lot to the table for NFL teams, which makes him an intriguing selection. He can play defensive back, linebacker, and at times free safety, but he also is a treat on offense and at times at tail back. Add to that, he has become very good at returning punts, and many are comparing him to former Wolverine and NFL all-pro Charles Woodson.

NFL Mock Draft 2017 Patriots
Jabrill Peppers may be on the New England draft board this April. [Image by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images]

Peppers' stats have improved every season during his three years in Ann Arbor, however, what he could really bring to an NFL team that doesn't show in the statistics is his desire to win and his speed on the field. Peppers' 4.34 time in the 40-yard dash is an eye opener in itself.

Current New England Patriots CB Logan Ryan believes Peppers will be a hit in the NFL and thinks he is built like fellow Pats teammate Patrick Chung.

"He's a versatile piece that makes us go," Ryan said of Chung, per The Detroit News. "We all have to be versatile, but he's the one they ask to do the most and he just takes it in stride. He does it extremely well. He's not the one to say it, but I watch that kid out of Jersey, Jabrill Peppers, and I'm like, 'Pat, you're doing the same thing at this level. Doing some safety, some linebacker stuff, coverage stuff, he catches punts.' Pat is an extremely good athlete. He doesn't get a lot of credit for that."

With many experts believing Peppers' stock has fallen a bit, he may be available for the Patriots to draft with the last selection in the first round this April.

Another possibility for New England is Auburn defensive end Carl Lawson. Like Peppers, Lawson has improved every season at Auburn. The 6-foot-2, 253-pound stud was a terror for opponents in 2016.

Carl Lawson NFL Mock Draft
Carl Lawson was in the opponents' backfield a lot in 2016 for the Auburn Tigers. [Image by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images]

Lawson had a career-best with 9.5 sacks and 14 tackles for a loss in last season, not to mention his presence and many times being double teamed opened up holes for other defenders to penetrate the opponents backfield.

Auburn's top pass-rusher has another thing in common with Peppers in the fact that he does a lot of great things that don't show up in the stats, and Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele believes he will be a great player in the NFL for years to come.

"Carl is obsessive compulsive about the game of football," said Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele. "He's harder on himself than any of us could ever be. He thinks that if they throw it 10 times that he ought to have six sacks, and that's a good thing."

Lawson has also been rumored to be eyed by the Dallas Cowboys and New York Jets.

The 2017 NFL Draft takes place on April 27 and runs through April 29.

[Featured Image by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images]