After an offseason filled with the most money Bill Belichick has ever spent, it’s hard to imagine the Patriots going back into their checkbooks in 2022. While New England will have to get creative in terms of retaining players and signing new ones, the draft is their best place to acquire talent.
RELATED: See Quinn Riley’s 1.0 mock draft here
The Patriots have put together two straight promising drafts, adding players like Kyle Dugger, Michael Onwenu, Josh Uche, Mac Jones, Christian Barmore, and Rhamondre Stevenson.
Perhaps the 2021 season was the most the team has gotten out of their rookies in the first year. Now that Dave Ziegler has joined Josh McDaniels in Las Vegas, it will be interesting to see how the Patriots approach this years draft. Ziegler held a prominent role in this process. Here are some names the Patriots could be calling come April.
Round 1 – TRADE
New England sends the 21st overall pick and a future fourth-round pick to the Chicago Bears for the 39th and 71st pick.
Round 2, pick No. 39: Alabama WR John Metchie III
Trading outside of the first round may anger many Patriots fans, especially when a desirable talent will be on the board at #21. While New England holds no striking gap in between the first three rounds, gaining an additional day two pick can maximize the Patriots infusion of speed and youth.
Here, New England would be cutting a deal with the Chicago Bears, two other teams to look out for would be the Washington Commanders and the Houston Texans. According to the NFL Trade Value Chart, the Patriots’ first-round pick is worth 800 points. Trades like these will get the Patriots a pick in between the late 30s and 70s.
Now back to John Metchie III — a first-round talent whose value will likely drop due to an ACL tear in December despite it reportedly being a “clean tear” — so why invest in someone who may not play for the Patriots in 2022 at a position New England historically struggles to draft? Because of Metchie’s upside.
The Patriots are in a dicey spot in terms of receiving options. They have four receiving starters under contract making guaranteed money along with crucial financial decisions to make. While New England can move around the cap creatively, their money will all depend on J.C. Jackson.
This mock draft is built around retaining Jackson. If they let Jackson walk, they have more financial flexibility and could potentially bring in a new free agent weapon for Mac Jones. If they tag and or extend Jackson, the Patriots must dive into the draft to get better at the wideout position.
Metchie is arguably one of the best receivers in another exciting class. Before tearing his ACL, Metchie displayed elite traits and impact in these areas which New England needs improvement on.
- Red-Zone production: Most red-zone targets over the past seasons (28 targets, zero drops)
- Man Coverage: Second most yards vs man coverage (453 yards)
- Vertical threat: Third most 20+yard catches among SEC wideouts (18)
- Third Down: Second most receiving yards on third down among Power-5 wideouts (408)
- YAC: Second in the SEC in missed tackles forced (20), as of November 22nd: third in yards after catch among Power-5 wideouts (551)
- Chemistry with Mac Jones: 55 catches, 916 yards, six touchdowns in 2020 with Mac Jones under center
Round 2, pick No. 54: Alabama LB Christian Harris
Earlier in the week, Jerod Mayo had this to say regarding the Patriots defense:
“We’re going to look to get faster, more explosive and put more playmakers on the field.”
Sounds like Mayo is talking mainly about the linebackers, a unit that lacks elite speed. Enter Christian Harris. Harris displays excellent sideline-sideline speed, covering backs and tight ends. With a combination of physicality and football IQ, Bill Belichick will love Harris coming out of Alabama, potentially replacing Dont’a Hightower.
Harris ranked second in the SEC in tackles for loss/no gain since 2019 (31). This was one of the biggest issues for New England in their two losses against the Buffalo Bills,
Round 3, pick No. 71: Georgia LB Channing Tindall
If the Patriots wish to stay true to their word regarding the defense, they will have to double up on linebackers. Channing Tindall would be a perfect example to choose from. The linebacker class is looking very deep and explosive, featuring a variety of skillsets that the Patriots defense currently lacks.
Tindall’s stock is on the rise and it should only go up as the draft process continues. Tindall impressed scouts all week during Senior Bowl practices, Daniel Jeremiah having this to say regarding Tindall’s speed.
“That loaded Georgia defense. They have a play style and it is aggressive. It carries over to special teams. Watch the effort that he gives to make the tackle. He goes down the field, he in his lane, he is where he is supposed to be. And it is going to bounce outside. You are going to see just how fast he is.”
Tindall has been more of a late bloomer for the bulldogs, but he played some of his best football down their championship stretch. In the National Championship, Tindall dominated with eight tackles and a sack, earning a PFF grade of 80, the highest any linebacker has been graded in the CFP title game. Patriots fans may remember that last year’s National Championship featured a dominant performance by DT Christian Barmore, raising his stock.
Over his last six games, Tindall was first in sacks (six), first in pressures (20), and third in PFF grade (81.4). While he may be a developmental player early on, the Patriots have room to work with his potential.
Round 3, pick No. 85: UCLA WR Kyle Phillips
The Patriots have lacked a true slot receiver since Julian Edelman’s retirement. UCLA’s Kyle Phillips will be a dream Patriot for a number of reasons. Phillips blew scouts away during the East-West Shrine Bowl practice week.
Phillips’ tape shows a player with excellent feet supported by a strong route tree and release package, featuring many big catches on third down. The slot receiver hauled in ten touchdowns in 2021 and rarely dropped a pass. Phillips also has experience taking punts. If the Patriots don’t have the room or patience to bring back Gunner Olszewski, Phillips should be their guy.
Round 4, pick No. 123: Houston DB Marcus Jones
If New England decides to not invest in a high-end pick in the secondary, Marcus Jones should be their target. His 91.6 kickoff return grade ranked #1 in all of college football. Jones forced 16 incompletions with five interceptions and a 86.6 PFF grade. His speed is his greatest trait and fits a similar mold of a Jonathan Jones. With the receivers New England will play for years to come, this secondary needs speed.
Rounds 5-7 projected options: Florida RB Dameon Pierce, USC DE Drake Jackson, Middle Tennessee Safety Reed Blankenship, Boise State WR Khalil Shakur
Although New England may be all set at running back, Florida’s Dameon Pierce is a great sleeper to keep an eye on. Pierce had a great week of practice during the Senior Bowl, especially in pass protection. In 27 pass blocking snaps, Pierce did not allow a single pressure. He ranked first in rushing grade (93.6) and sixth in receiving grade (86.0). 13 rushing touchdowns, three receiving touchdowns, 216 receiving yards, averaging just seven carries per game, Pierce was criminally wildly underused at Florida.
The top rated back in PFF, it would be a shock if Pierce falls to round five, but if he is there, New England must take him.
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