In moments last fall, the Patriots looked like the Patriots.
In Year 2 without Tom Brady, New England showed signs of life behind its rookie quarterback. In fact, in the heart of the season, the Patriots looked like one of the Super Bowl favorites.
New England lost four out of five games to close the year, however, which was a sign of things to come. While the Patriots still snuck into the playoffs, they were clobbered by the Bills 47-17 in the opening round.
And here we are.
It would appear the Patriots found a potential gem at quarterback in Mac Jones. But after a spending spree on free agents before last season, the Patriots entered the draft with plenty of potential places to upgrade.
Patriots NFL Draft Picks 2022
- Round 1, Pick 29 (29th Overall): Cole Strange, G, Tennessee-Chattanooga
- Round 2, Pick 18 (50th Overall): Tyquan Thornton, WR, Baylor
- Round 3, Pick 21 (85th Overall): Marcus Jones, CB, Houston
- Round 4, Pick 16 (121st Overall): Jack Jones, CB, Arizona State
- Round 4, Pick 22 (127th Overall): Pierre Strong, RB, South Dakota State
- Round 4, Pick 32 (137th Overall): Bailey Zappe, QB, Western Kentucky
- Round 6, Pick 4 (183rd Overall): Kevin Harris, RB, South Carolina
- Round 6, Pick 21 (200th Overall): Sam Roberts, DT, NW Missouri State
- Round 6, Pick 32 (210th Overall): Chasen Hines, C, LSU
- Round 7, Pick 24 (245th Overall): Andrew Stueber, OT, Michigan
The Patriots added 10 players through the draft, but this 2022 class has been widely criticized.
It all started with the strange selection of UT-Chattanooga guard Cole Strange, who many expected to be a late Day 2 pick. While he does address a position of need, this was a bit of a reach from Bill Belichick.
That was a bit of a theme for the Patriots in the early going, as Baylor WR Tyquan Thornton was a projected third or fourth-round pick. It was a surprise to see him go before Georgia’s George Pickens or Western Michigan’s Skyy Moore.
Still, if Thornton develops into a reliable target, that would be a boost to Mac Jones’ continued progression in this offense. New England also added a pair of running backs in Pierre Strong and Kevin Harris to take the load off Jones and workhorse back Damien Harris.
The highlight of the Patriots’ draft is the pair of new defensive backs, Marcus Jones and Jack Jones, who will try to fill the void left by J.C. Jackson. That’s a big ask in the short term, but Marcus is a quality prospect with good ball skills that could become New England’s next ballhawk.
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Note: The Patriots NFL Draft predictions below were published before the 2022 NFL Draft.
Pre-Draft Patriots NFL Mock Draft Predictions 2022
- Round 1, Pick 21 (21st Overall): Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
- Round 2, Pick 22 (54th Overall): Christian Harris, LB, Alabama
- Round 3, Pick 21 (85th Overall): Max Mitchell, OL, Louisiana-Lafayette
More Possible Patriots Draft Targets: Bernhard Raimann, OT, Central Michigan; Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington
Pre-Draft Patriots Team Needs 2022
1. Wide Receiver
This is a popular pick. It’s also the right pick. It feels like a broken record, and perhaps it is. But with a young quarterback, it is imperative that the Pats upgrade their pass catchers in the 2022 draft.
The good news? There are ample options to address this position multiple times. Given the state of the offense, this must be the priority.
For years, this has been a strength. But the departure of second-team All-Pro cornerback J.C. Jackson to the Chargers is a massive loss.
While there are options at the position — and it’s difficult to address this kind of void with the picks they have — the position is one New England will likely address.
3. Offensive Line
A wideout or two will help. Keeping Jones upright, however, is essential.
The Pats retained Trent Brown, which is significant. But the unit still needs help and depth, and ensuring Jones has every opportunity to stay healthy and develop will be crucial over the next few years.
Patriots May Also Consider Drafting: Linebacker, Running Back