New England Patriots

Dec 5, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker (11) signals toward the sideline against the New York Giants during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

A lot will be made this year about the relationship between Patriots quarterback Mac Jones and newly-acquired receiver DeVante Parker. Across the NFL, veteran wide receivers have helped expediate the success of younger quarterbacks, and many are expecting Parker to play that role for Jones after the Patriots traded for him earlier this month.

On Thursday, Parker spoke with Patriots media for the first time since the trade, and offered his first impressions on his new quarterback. “He’s got a good arm on him. He can zip it,” Parker noted. The two spent time working together with a number of other Patriots receivers at a throwing session in Tampa shortly after Parker was traded to New England.

“Mac’s a good quarterback. Just the way he throws the ball,” Parker continued. “It’s not tough, he throws a catchable ball.”

Parker was also asked what his strongest skill sets are, and what he’ll bring to the offense to help Jones and the rest of the unit improve. “High pointing the ball, getting vertical down the field, and doing whatever I can to help the team win,” he replied.

Finally, Parker was asked about a post he made on Instagram on Wednesday, which showed him photoshopped into a No. 11 Patriots jersey – the number last worn by Julian Edelman. Will that be his number moving forward?

“I’m not sure yet,” he replied. “Numbers haven’t been certified yet. We’ll have to wait and see.”

We’ll find out Parker’s number – and get our first look of him working with Mac Jones – in just over a month. The Patriots begin their offseason practices in late May, with May 26 set to be the first practice open to the media.

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WATCH: Mac Jones throws with Patriots receivers at Tampa workout

  • Amid plenty of talk of additions to the Patriots wide receivers room – whether it be the DeVante Parker trade or in the upcoming NFL Draft – the Patriots’ top returning receivers joined quarterback Mac Jones in Tampa work a throwing session on Tuesday. Kendrick Bourne shared an inside look at the workout on his Instagram.

  • In addition to Bourne, Jones was throwing to Nelson Agholor and Jakobi Meyers, as well as running back J.J. Taylor. It’s not immediately clear who organized the workout, or if there are more set for the near future.

    Based on the clips shared by Bourne, it seems as though the Patriots’ wide receivers are bulking up for the 2022 season. Bourne himself mentions now weighing 196 pounds, up from the 190 he played at last year. But the real notable jump is from Meyers, who claims to be up to 225 pounds. That’s a sizable jump from the 200 pounds he played at last year.

    Taylor’s presence at the workout also stands out. The only non-wide receiver to take part, the third-year running back is entering a crucial season. Signed as a UDFA in 2020, he’s done enough to stay on the roster for two years but has yet to make a big contribution on the field. With Brandon Bolden now in Las Vegas, there is a bigger role in the running back rotation up for grabs this summer, and Taylor should be a factor in that competition.

    Noticeably not spotted in the clips and pictures shared from the workout is N’Keal Harry. If he wasn’t there, it would make him the only receiver from last year’s active roster to not participate. Harry’s standing on the roster has been a popular talking point this offseason, especially since the acquisition of Parker.

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    What do the 2022 combine results tell us about the Patriots at the draft?

    • The NFL Combine returned in 2022 and remains the most prominent source for pre-draft measurements, and it came with plenty of potential intrigue for the Patriots to take interest in a number of prospects. Here’s who tested well in key drills at the combine or their Pro Day that seem like draft fits for New England…

      Defensive Back: Dax Hill, Michigan

      Dax Hill #DB53 of Michigan runs a drill during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 06, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

      Dax Hill #DB53 of Michigan runs a drill during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 06, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

      Three-Cone: 6.48 seconds, 2nd overall at Combine

      Hill mainly played safety at Michigan, and the Patriots obviously have a more urgent need at cornerback. But the Pats also lack a clear long-term replacement for Devin McCourty when he eventually retires, and Hill has been described as a guy who can step in and play nickel corner as well. The Michigan connection is obvious, and the Patriots seem like a good fit for his versatility and football smarts.

      The Draft Network says: “Hill is an extremely versatile player at the back end of this defense. He can play single-high free safety, nickel, outside corner, and even has aligned as a dime backer. His blend of athleticism and toughness are exactly what NFL defensive coordinators are looking for out of a defensive back as it allows them to be creative on where he is utilized.” (source)

    • Guard: Zion Johnson, Boston College

      Sep 4, 2021; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA; Boston College Eagles offensive lineman Zion Johnson (77) looks to block against the Colgate Raiders during the first half at Alumni Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

      Sep 4, 2021; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA; Boston College Eagles offensive lineman Zion Johnson (77) looks to block against the Colgate Raiders during the first half at Alumni Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

      Bench Press: 32 reps, 1st overall at Combine

      On the offensive line, the Patriots have shown a propensity for prospects who ranked highly at the bench press, as opposed to the three-cone. You can point to Justin Herron (10th among all OL at the 2020 Combine) and Yodny Cajuste (1st among all tackles at the 2019 Combine) as evidence of that. There’s not a ton to analyze with Johnson, though. He’ll be a plug-and-play starting guard for whoever drafts him, and the Patriots would likely need to take him at 21. Johnson played center at the Senior Bowl, too. He wouldn’t be just a good replacement for Ted Karras, he’d be an upgrade.

      The Draft Network says: “How quickly Johnson made the transition from Davidson to Boston College and forced his way into the lineup speaks to his football intelligence and ability to acclimate. There is a natural sense of timing in how Johnson executes his assignments. Johnson understands his technique, trusts it, and is rarely guilty of penalties.” (source)

    • Cornerback: Zyon McCollum, Sam Houston State

      May 16, 2021; Frisco, Texas, USA; Sam Houston State Bearkats defensive back Zyon McCollum (22) and his teammates celebrate winning the game against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits at the Division I FCS Championship football game at Toyota Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

      May 16, 2021; Frisco, Texas, USA; Sam Houston State Bearkats defensive back Zyon McCollum (22) and his teammates celebrate winning the game against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits at the Division I FCS Championship football game at Toyota Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

      Three-Cone Drill: 6.48, 1st overall at Combine

      McCollum is rising up draft boards after a dominant Combine. He didn’t just “win” the three-cone, he also led the 20-yard shuttle at 3.94 seconds, ran a 4.33 in the 40-yard dash (seventh overall), and ranked top-10 in the vertical jump and broad jump drills. He still seems to have a ceiling in terms of draft stock due to being a little tall for a cornerback (6-foot-4) and having limitations in man coverage and in tackling. But the Patriots could view him as a good raw athlete they can teach how to tackle and develop as a football player.

      The Draft Network says: “McCollum has an ideal skill set for zone coverage duties where his size, length, and ball skills can be fully maximized. He does a great job of reading the backfield and working into throwing lanes. He is comfortable working from the half-turn and staying leveraged.” (source)

    • Edge Rusher: Nik Bonitto, Oklahoma

      Mar 5, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Oklahoma defensive lineman Nik Bonitto (DL01) goes through drills during the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

      Mar 5, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Oklahoma defensive lineman Nik Bonitto (DL01) goes through drills during the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

      Three-Cone Drill: 7.07, 3rd among all DE/EDGE at Combine

      The Patriots took two Sooners in 2021, outside linebacker Ronnie Perkins and running back Rhamondre Stevenson. Bonitto seems like he may be redundant with Perkins, who still has yet to get a real shot at playing, and he may be a little light for Belichick’s liking (248 pounds). But the Pats have historically drafted edge players who rated highly in the three-cone drill, so that and other connections make him a prospect worth knowing.

      The Draft Network says: “Bonitto is a very instinctual football player who understands his assignments. He can process quickly and can read blocking schemes. He is asked to play a variety of roles for the Sooner defense, whether it’s rushing the passer, dropping in zone coverage, or being a spy.” (source)

    • Wide Receiver: Bo Melton, Rutgers

      Bo Melton #18 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights hauls in a reception against JoJo Domann #13 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers during the first quarter at SHI Stadium on December 18, 2020 in Piscataway, New Jersey. (Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images)

      Bo Melton #18 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights hauls in a reception against JoJo Domann #13 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers during the first quarter at SHI Stadium on December 18, 2020 in Piscataway, New Jersey. (Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images)

      Three-Cone Drill: 6.98, 3rd at WR at Combine

      Rutgers. Of course. But it has been almost a decade since Belichick has drafted someone from what used to seem like his favorite college program. Beyond that connection, Melton has the versatility to play slot receiver and returner. He’d be a developmental guy who wouldn’t transform the Patriots offense overnight, but Melton seems like a Patriots type of pick.

      The Draft Network says: “I like Melton best with his stature and athletic profile as a developmental slot receiver and in the return game. For that reason alone, you can probably justify an active roster spot and hope that he becomes more developed as a receiver in order to truly fulfill two active roster spots as a viable receiver and special teams player.” (source)

    Patriots draft preview: Wide receivers

    • We’re going on nearly half a decade now of wide receiver being one of if not the most talked about position for the Patriots in the NFL Draft. Some years, the position has been more of a need than others. How does it stack up this year?

      It’s hard to call receiver an ‘immediate’ need for the Patriots, given the way they projected other positions. They have NFL-caliber players across the top of the depth chart in Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, and Jakobi Meyers – the same can’t be said at positions like cornerback or guard.

      At the same time, an upgrade at the position could go a long way towards improving an offense that in its first year together ranked sixth in the NFL in points scored. Teams around the NFL have paired young quarterbacks with truly star receivers, with great success.

      The Patriots can also use this as a chance to plan ahead at the position, with Agholor and Meyers both set to be free agents after the 2022 season. They could bring in potential replacements for a relatively low investment on Day 3, and give those players a year to grow and develop in the system before asking them to take on a more significant role.

      Basically, everything is on the table when it comes to the receiver position in the draft for the Patriots, especially with such a deep class at the position (although it feels like we’ve said that about the last four drafts – at what point to they stop getting deep and start being average?). They could take a receiver in the first round, wait until late in the draft, double dip – any possibility feels realistic. So let’s break this class down by range of the draft, looking at the most logical targets for the Patriots in each.

    • Reaches

      Sep 4, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver Jameson Williams (1) reacts as he scores on a long touchdown pass against the Miami Hurricanes during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

      Sep 4, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver Jameson Williams (1) reacts as he scores on a long touchdown pass against the Miami Hurricanes during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

      There will likely be multiple receivers off the board by the time the Patriots are scheduled to pick at 21. If they want to grab one of these players, they’ll likely have to move up the board significantly.

      Garrett Wilson of Ohio State is currently the consensus top receiver in this class, and could go in the top 10. His game is well-rounded like most Buckeye receiver, but he projects to play mostly out of the slot in the pros.

      Alabama’s Jameson Williams would have been the top receiver and a probable top-five pick had he not torn his ACL in the National Championship game back in January. Williams is a top-tier route runner with elite speed making him a true threat at all three levels.

      The ‘size’ option in the top 20 is Drake London out of UCLA. London checks in at 6-foot-4, 219 pounds who wins with natural separation rather than technique and speed.

    • Round 1

      Oct 9, 2021; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Chris Olave (2)runs after catch during the first half against the Maryland Terrapins at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

      Oct 9, 2021; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Chris Olave (2)runs after catch during the first half against the Maryland Terrapins at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

      If any of those three player prototypes interest you, but you don’t think the Patriots will or don’t want them to move up, there’s still good news. The next three receivers in the class each mirror those first three. These players should still be on the board around the 20th pick. It may take a minor move up to land one, but it’s not quite jumping into the top 15.

      Chris Olave from Ohio State is another well-rounded receiver, and is one of the best Patriots-specific fits at the position in the draft in a while. He’s a precise, efficient, and versatile route runner than can line up anywhere in the formation. The Patriots could put together some very creative alignments with him, Bourne, and Meyers.

      Jahan Dotson out of Penn State also moved around the formation quite a bit in college, but in the Patriots’ offense he’d likely primarily play in the slot. He’d offer them a more vertical option at that position, with big-play speed and route-running ability.

      Rounding out the first-round targets is Treylon Burks of Arkansas. Burks is a big (6-foot-2, 225 pounds) possession receiver who wins either on jump balls or by catching the ball around the line of scrimmage and creating yards after the catch.

      If that description sounds familiar, it’s similar to how N’Keal Harry was billed coming out of Arizona State. If the Patriots want a do-over on a player of that prototype, Burks would be the guy.

    • Round 2

      ATLANTA, GEORGIA - JANUARY 01: George Pickens #1 of the Georgia Bulldogs makes a catch for a first quarter touchdown against Bryan Cook #6 of of the Cincinnati Bearcats during Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on January 01, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham /Getty Images)

      ATLANTA, GEORGIA – JANUARY 01: George Pickens #1 of the Georgia Bulldogs makes a catch for a first quarter touchdown against Bryan Cook #6 of of the Cincinnati Bearcats during Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on January 01, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham /Getty Images)

      Given the depth of this class and the Patriots’ other needs, this may be the sweet spot for the Patriots to take a receiver. There should still be first-round-caliber talent on the board, both in terms of outside receivers and guys who can play the slot.

      At Georgia’s Pro Day last week, the Patriots got a close look at George Pickens. Pickens offers the combination of size (6-foot-3, 195 pounds) and speed teams look for in a deep threat, and adds strong hands to that equation. He’s expected to fall a bit in the draft after struggling to stay on the field the last two seasons, but the Patriots historically have viewed players like that as value picks.

      Another higher-risk, high-reward potential ‘X’ receiver expected to go in the second round is Christian Watson out of North Dakota State. Watson entered the pre-draft process as a likely mid-Day 3 pick, but has shot up boards with strong showings at both the Senior Bowl and Combine.

      At 6-foot-4, 208 pounds with a 4.36 40 time on the books, his measurables pop off the charts. His technical game is still raw, and he’ll have to adjust to NFL defenders coming from the FCS level. But in the right situation (sitting behind Nelson Agholor for a year?) his ceiling is tremendous.

      In the slot, Western Michigan’s Skyy Moore is the name to know here. Like Watson, he’s flown up draft boards over the last month. One of the most technically-savvy route runners in this class, Moore would be one of the least mold-breaking picks for the Patriots at the position.

      Finally, there’s Alabama’s John Metchie. Metchie likely would have been another first-round pick for the Tide, but he tore his ACL in the SEC Championship Game in December. He’s currently expected to go late in the second or early in the third round, but is probably trending more towards the former given the updates on his rehab process.

      Metchie can play in the slot or on the perimeter, and can burn defenses at all three levels. That was the case in 2020 when he played with Mac Jones and caught 55 passes for 916 yards and six touchdowns as the team’s second receiver next to DeVonta Smith.

    • Round 3

      Nov 6, 2021; Lexington, Kentucky, USA; Kentucky Wildcats wide receiver Wan'Dale Robinson (1) runs the ball during the second quarter against the Tennessee Volunteers at Kroger Field. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

      Nov 6, 2021; Lexington, Kentucky, USA; Kentucky Wildcats wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson (1) runs the ball during the second quarter against the Tennessee Volunteers at Kroger Field. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

      With so many risers on the board, some players have to fall. A couple of those receivers find themselves here, and could be seen as value picks.

      Had Clemson’s Justyn Ross been able to declare for the draft after his freshman year, he would have been a top-50 pick and a potential first-rounder. He put up 1,000 yards exactly in 2018, an averaged 21.7 yards per catch. Ross capped that season with a masterful performance in the National Championship, catching six passes for 153 yards and a score in the Tigers’ win over Alabama.

      However, Ross’ production has dropped since, and he missed the entire 2020 season after undergoing neck/spinal surgery. Still, at 6-foot-4 with impressive body control he has a lot of what teams look for in an outside receiver. That combined with his freshman year tape should have him still coming off the board in the top 100.

      Wan’Dale Robinson out of Kentucky hasn’t been bad in the pre-draft process, he’s just yet to have that eye-popping moment guys like Watson and Moore have put out there. In a copycat league like the NFL, Robinson – a converted running back – could play a role similar to that of Deebo Samuel in San Francisco. What he lacks in size he makes up for with speed, and could be a gadget chess piece kind of player on a team that excels in scheming up designed touches.

      While those two may be seen as ‘fallers,’ Memphis’ Calvin Austin is a riser in this group. The slot receiver finished top three in every athletic testing drill he participated in at the Combine, including a 4.32 second 40 and a pace-setting 4.07 second three-cone drill. At 5-foot-8, 170 pounds there are concerns about his size, but there’s no question he’s a problem in open space – whether it be as a route runner, running after the catch, or as a returner.

    • Early Day 3

      Nov 27, 2021; Piscataway, New Jersey, USA; Rutgers Scarlet Knights wide receiver Bo Melton (18) gains yards after the catch against the Maryland Terrapins during the first half at SHI Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

      Nov 27, 2021; Piscataway, New Jersey, USA; Rutgers Scarlet Knights wide receiver Bo Melton (18) gains yards after the catch against the Maryland Terrapins during the first half at SHI Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

      Let’s start off Day 3 with more ‘X’ receiver options. The Patriots have had two pre-draft meetings with Nevada’s Romeo Doubs. Doubs was incredibly productive for the Wolfpack, putting together two all-conference seasons in 2020 and 2021. His speed and jump ball ability make him an intriguing developmental player who could likely contribute right away in the red zone and on designed touches.

      If the Patriots want to add raw speed, then they can’t do any better than Tyquan Thornton out of Baylor. Thornton was a projected UDFA until he ran a 4.28 second 40 – the fastest of any receiver at the combine – at 6-foot-2, 181 pounds. Add in his body control, and he had the makings of a sideline threat. He’s not going to offer much going over the middle, at least not immediately, but he can step in and keep a defense honest on the back end.

      The best fit for the Patriots early on Day 3 though is Rutgers slot receiver Bo Melton. Melton is another big riser between his performances at the Senior Bowl and Combine. With a 4.34 second 40 and 6.98 three-cone, he showed he can test defenses both horizontally and vertically. His initial release and short route package would be put to good use in the Patriots’ offense. He also has experience returning and covering kicks.

    • Late Day 3

      Nov 6, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Hurricanes wide receiver Charleston Rambo (11) makes a catch for a touchdown against the defense of Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets defensive back Zamari Walton (7) during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

      Nov 6, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Hurricanes wide receiver Charleston Rambo (11) makes a catch for a touchdown against the defense of Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets defensive back Zamari Walton (7) during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

      Historically, this is the range of the draft where the Patriots target wide receivers. Of the 18 receivers drafted in the Bill Belichick era, nine were taken after the 150th pick, and seven after the 200th pick. Of course every year is different, but that’s the historical context. Plus, that’s not to say the only receiver the Patriots take has to come in this range – this could be them drafting a second player at the position after taking one earlier.

      Charleston Rambo spent three years at Oklahoma competing for playing time against multiple future first-round picks. He had his flashes, but didn’t produce consistently until transferring to Miami last season where he caught 79 passes for 1,172 yards and seven touchdowns. Rambo is a strong route runner with big-play ability after the catch, but a 4.57 second 40 at the Combine didn’t help his stock.

      A player in this range who did help himself at the Combine is Michigan State’s Jalen Nailor. Nailor is an outside receiver who wins deep with skilled route running rather than raw speed. The Patriots have brought in a handful of players in the past from that mold, including last year’s draft pick Tre Nixon.

      The name everybody will be watching for with the Patriots as the draft winds down though is Slade Bolden. The Alabama slot receiver is a four-down player who was roommates with Mac Jones at Tuscaloosa in 2020. He was a fringe draft pick before an underwhelming Combine performance, but his versatility will create a market so the Patriots could grab him before he becomes a UDFA.

    • UDFAs

      Dec 18, 2021; Inglewood, CA, USA; Utah State Aggies wide receiver Deven Thompkins (13) scores on a 62-yard touchdown reception against the Oregon State Beavers in the first half of the 2021 LA Bowl at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

      Dec 18, 2021; Inglewood, CA, USA; Utah State Aggies wide receiver Deven Thompkins (13) scores on a 62-yard touchdown reception against the Oregon State Beavers in the first half of the 2021 LA Bowl at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

      The Patriots’ best homegrown receiver currently on the roster is a UDFA in Jakobi Meyers. Could the Patriots find success in that market again this year?

      Deven Thompkins was one of the best deep-ball threats in college football in 2021. The third-team All-American caught 102 passes for 1,704 yards and 10 touchdowns, and is one of the fastest players in this class. He was also one of the better kick returners, averaging 23 yards per return. So, why is he a projected UDFA? At 5-foot-8, 155 pounds, there are concerns about how long he’ll last in the NFL.

      As far as UDFA slot receivers go, Washington State’s Calvin Jackson Jr. is a name to know. Jackson had a breakout season in 2021 catching 66 passes for 987 yards and seven touchdowns. He’s a steady route runner and potential special teams contributor.

      But, if special teams are really the focus, then the guy is Britain Covey out of Utah. While Covey was a contributor on offense – he caught 52 passes for 514 yards last season – he made his mark in the return game. In 47 career games for the Utes, he averaged 11.9 yards per punt return and 25.4 yards per kick return with five total touchdowns. Covey would make a lot of sense as a replacement for Gunner Olszewski.

    Patriots Mock Draft 2.5: Adjusting for the DeVante Parker trade

    • Here we are again. Just a week after Mock Draft 2.0, it’s already time to update the team’s draft outlook. Isn’t that why Mock Drafts are always named ‘x.0’ anyway, so there’s room to update? That makes this 2.5, two and a half, 2.1, 2.0 beta, whatever you want to call it.

      Anyways, last week was a busy week for the Patriots, highlighted by the acquisition of wide receiver DeVante Parker. They also signed hybrid defensive back Jabrill Peppers to a one-year deal late last week.

      One thing that stands out  about this draft outlined below – the Patriots make 10 total selections. That may feel like a lot, but it’s not out of the ordinary given the way Bill Belichick has run things recently. Over their last 10 drafts, the Patriots have averaged making 8.6 selections per draft. They’ve had three drafts where they’ve made double-digit selections in that span, including two in the last three years. On the other hand, they’ve drafted less than eight players just twice and less than seven only once (four picks in 2017). If you remove that outlier – when they traded a first for Brandin Cooks and had to forfeit a fourth-round pick because of Deflategate – the average picks per year is 9.1.

      How will they fill up their board this year? Let’s get into it…

    • Round 1, Pick 21: Trade

      INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - DECEMBER 18: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots looks on during pregame warm-ups prior to the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 18, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

      INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – DECEMBER 18: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots looks on during pregame warm-ups prior to the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 18, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

      Patriots get:

      –29th overall pick (1st round)
      –94th overall pick (3rd round)
      –135th overall pick (4th round)
      –2023 4th round pick

      Chiefs get:

      –21st overall pick (1st round)

      The Chiefs, always aggressive on the draft board, decide to pay the steep cost of moving up and the Patriots take advantage. They add an extra top-100 and top-150 pick.

      Over the last few years, the cost of moving up about 10 spots in the first round has generally been a first, two early Day 3 picks. This may not seem like much, but it’s actually an overpay by recent standards. There were no trades in this range last year, but in 2020 the San Francisco 49ers gave up the 31st pick, plus fourth and fifth round picks to move up to 25. A slightly higher pick and jump in picks has the Chiefs paying a bit more.

      This is also a win for the Patriots based on the Belichick trade chart. The 21st overall pick is worth 261 points, and they’re getting 271 points in return (it’s not uncommon for a team moving up to overpay).

      NOTE: There’s been a lot of questions on social media about the players the Patriots are passing on here – specifically Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams. As I wrote elsewhere on Monday, it’s looking less and less likely like he’ll be on the board at 21. For this mock, the assumption is he’s already been selected.

    • Round 1, Pick 29: DB Daxton Hill, Michigan

      Nov 20, 2021; College Park, Maryland, USA; Michigan Wolverines defensive back Daxton Hill (30) rushes during the first halfagainst the Maryland Terrapins at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium. Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

      Nov 20, 2021; College Park, Maryland, USA; Michigan Wolverines defensive back Daxton Hill (30) rushes during the first halfagainst the Maryland Terrapins at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium. Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

      In Mock Draft 2.0, we had the Patriots taking Florida cornerback Kaiir Elam. Elam is the kind of big, strong boundary corner the Patriots have traditionally targeted. However, it’s looking more and more like the plan for 2022 is to morph the defense into a more zone, ‘positionless’ look in the secondary. If that’s the case, there isn’t a better fit in this draft than Hill.

      Hill played deep safety, box safety, slot corner, and even occasionally boundary corner at Michigan. He’s able to play so many roles thanks to a combination of terrific football instincts and standout athleticism. He ran a 4.38 40-yard dash and led all safeties at the Combine in the agility drills with a 4.06 second 20-yard shuttle and 6.57 second three-cone.

      There would be no shortage of ways the Patriots could deploy Hill in New England. Given the current state of the secondary, that makes him an ideal fit.

    • Round 2, Pick 54: DL Perrion Winfrey, Oklahoma

      Oct 9, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA;  Oklahoma Sooners defensive lineman Perrion Winfrey (8) pressures Texas Longhorns quarterback Casey Thompson (11) during the game at the Cotton Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

      Oct 9, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA; Oklahoma Sooners defensive lineman Perrion Winfrey (8) pressures Texas Longhorns quarterback Casey Thompson (11) during the game at the Cotton Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

      For the second year in a row, the Patriots take a versatile and high-upside defensive lineman in the second round. There’s plenty on Winfrey’s resume that would make him a logical draft target for the Patriots, including playing at Oklahoma and winning Senior Bowl MVP.

      Winfrey would join a line of Patriots’ defensive linemen who can play both on the edge and inside. At 6-foot-4, 290 pounds, he’s big and strong enough to set the edge against the run. On passing downs, he’s athletic enough to kick inside and collapse the pocket as a pass rusher. Pairing him with Christian Barmore up front could create some unique mismatches for offenses in obvious passing situations.

      Wherever he lines up, Winfrey knows how to disrupt an offense. 11 of his 23 tackles last season went for a loss, including 5.5 sacks. He also ran the third-fastest 40-yard dash among defensive linemen at the Combine, posting a 4.89 second time.

    • Round 3, pick 85: Dylan Parham, Memphis

      Mar 4, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Memphis offensive lineman Dylan Parham (OL36) goes through drills during the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

      Mar 4, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Memphis offensive lineman Dylan Parham (OL36) goes through drills during the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

      This pick remains unchanged from Mock Draft 2.0. A four-year starter for Memphis, Parham should be the favorite to win the starting left guard job as soon as he sets foot in Foxborough.

      The reason Parham is still on the board at this point with a starting-caliber floor is some teams may be concerned about his size (6-foot-3, 311 pounds). Yet he’s such a technically-sound prospect, time with the Patriots’ coaching staff and on an NFL workout plan should make that a non-issue.

    • Round 3, Pick 94: DE Joshua Paschal

      LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY - SEPTEMBER 04: Joshua Paschal #4 of the Kentucky Wildcats on defense against the ULM War Hawks at Kroger Field on September 04, 2021 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

      LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY – SEPTEMBER 04: Joshua Paschal #4 of the Kentucky Wildcats on defense against the ULM War Hawks at Kroger Field on September 04, 2021 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

      Paschal is listed as a defensive end, but he can realistically line up anywhere from an early-down outside linebacker to standup interior pass rusher. He’s also a highly intelligent, high motor player who should be able to play on four downs right away.

      Paschal was a three year starter after missing the 2018 season while undergoing cancer treatment. A two-time team captain at Kentucky, draft insiders have lauded him as a leader and locker room presence.

      The Patriots likely wouldn’t have him fill one role, but give him a number of different assignments as his game rounds out. This selection is more about him being a tremendous fit, and among the best players on the board at this point.

    • Round 4, Pick 127: CB Jalyn Armour-Davis, Alabama

      Sep 4, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Jalyn Armour-Davis (5) breaks up a pass intended for Miami Hurricanes wide receiver Key'Shawn Smith (5) at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Credit: Gary Cosby-USA TODAY Sports

      Sep 4, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Jalyn Armour-Davis (5) breaks up a pass intended for Miami Hurricanes wide receiver Key’Shawn Smith (5) at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Credit: Gary Cosby-USA TODAY Sports

      After taking four potential immediate impact players with their four top-100 picks, the Patriots go for more of a project player to start Day 3. As mentioned above, the Patriots may go away from their traditional defensive profile this year, but having one bigger outside press man corner on the roster would be helpful for certain matchups. Plus, based on Armour-Davis’ development, he could give the team the option to return to a press-man scheme in the future.

      Armour-Davis didn’t begin playing an involved role on defense until 2021, but showed promise in his lone year as a starting outside corner for Alabama. He has the build (6-foot-1), mentality, and athleticism (4.39 40,  to play boundary corner in the NFL, but may be a year or two away from a full-time starting role on the outside after spending most of his collegiate career as a reserve. Still, he could likely come in and contribute on special teams right away (he was a three-year special teams starter at ‘Bama) and may have some safety flexibility as well.

    • Round 4, Pick 135: DT Otito Ogbonnia, UCLA

      Dec 5, 2020; Tempe, Arizona, USA; UCLA Bruins offensive defensive lineman Otito Ogbonnia (91) against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium. Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

      Dec 5, 2020; Tempe, Arizona, USA; UCLA Bruins offensive defensive lineman Otito Ogbonnia (91) against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium. Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

      The Patriots continue to work on upgrading their front seven. This time, they add a dedicated early-down run stopping nose tackle in Ogbonnia. At 6-foot-4, 324 pounds Ogbonnia can eat space and occupy blockers in the running game. He explodes out of his stance and regularly wins at the point of attack.

      2021 was Ogbonnia’s lone year as a starter at UCLA, so his game is still developing. He’ll likely be a heavily situational player early on, but his game is still developing. If he improves his footwork, he may also be able to play strongside defensive end on early downs in the Patriots’ system as well.

       

    • Round 5, Pick 158: WR Bo Melton, Rutgers

      Nov 27, 2021; Piscataway, New Jersey, USA; Rutgers Scarlet Knights wide receiver Bo Melton (18) gains yards after the catch against the Maryland Terrapins during the first half at SHI Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

      Nov 27, 2021; Piscataway, New Jersey, USA; Rutgers Scarlet Knights wide receiver Bo Melton (18) gains yards after the catch against the Maryland Terrapins during the first half at SHI Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

      After adding an outside ‘X’ receiver in Parker, it’s time for the Patriots to address the slot position. Jakobi Meyers is returning as a restricted free agent, but there isn’t much depth behind him currently on the roster and he’ll be an unrestricted free agent next offseason.

      Looking to plan ahead, the Patriots take Melton in the fifth round. Melton was a standout at both the Senior Bowl and Combine, where he ran a 4.34 40 and had a 6.98 3-cone – both ranking top five among receivers.

      At 5-foot-11, 198 pounds Melton is somewhere in between a traditional slot receiver and ‘bit slot.’ His speed and footwork off the line allow him to work vertically as well as in the shallow areas of the field, which is a style similar to some of the slot receivers Mac Jones had success with at Alabama. He also has experience returning kickoffs and covering kicks and punts as a gunner.

      Of course, the Rutgers connection stands out. The Patriots haven’t taken a player from the program since Greg Schiano left in 2011. However, Schiano returned in 2020, which could re-open the pipeline.

    • Round 5, Pick 170: Trade

      FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - OCTOBER 24: New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick looks on after the game against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on October 24, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

      FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – OCTOBER 24: New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick looks on after the game against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on October 24, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

      Patriots get:

      –244th overall pick (7th round)
      –2023 5th round pick
      –2023 7th round pick

      Cardinals get:

      –170th overall pick (5th round)

      The Patriots have made just six fifth round selections in the last 10 years. Three of those six picks were special teams players, and another was linebacker Cameron McGrone last year, who was selected with the knowledge that he wouldn’t play in 2021. In that same time, they’ve traded away 18 fifth round picks (including comp picks and picks that weren’t originally theirs), often using those trades to move down and add current and future draft capital. That’s exactly what they do here.

      This is an even swap on the trade chart. Each team is moving eight points worth of picks.

    • Round 6, Pick 200: OT Vederian Lowe, Illinois

      Purdue linebacker Kieren Douglas (43) is blocked by Illinois offensive lineman Vederian Lowe (79) during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021 at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette. (Nikos Frazier / Journal & Courier via Imagn Content Services, LLC)

      Purdue linebacker Kieren Douglas (43) is blocked by Illinois offensive lineman Vederian Lowe (79) during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021 at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette. (Nikos Frazier / Journal & Courier via Imagn Content Services, LLC)

      Lowe wasn’t on the draft radar heading into the 2021 season. However, he showed tremendous growth under first-year coach Bret Bielema, a former Patriots staffer. The Patriots regularly took players from Arkansas when Bielema was the head coach there from 2013-2017, so it’s worth watching to see if that trend will pick up again with Illinois.

      As for Lowe himself, he has the build (6-foot-5, 314 pounds) and functional athleticism to play both tackle spots for the Patriots, and some draft experts project him as a potential four-position player with the right coaching. His technique came a long way in 2021 but he still has a way to go, but he would be a good project tackle for the Patriots with the position looming as a need in 2023.

    • Round 6, Pick 210: LB Nate Landman, Colorado

      TUCSON, ARIZONA - DECEMBER 05: Linebacker Nate Landman #53 of the Colorado Buffaloes during the first half of the PAC-12 football game against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium on December 05, 2020 in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)

      TUCSON, ARIZONA – DECEMBER 05: Linebacker Nate Landman #53 of the Colorado Buffaloes during the first half of the PAC-12 football game against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium on December 05, 2020 in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)

      Landman was also a late-round pick in Mock Draft 2.0. A multi-year starter and captain at Colorado, Landman is among the more experienced linebackers in this draft and would join what is a relatively young linebacker room in New England.

      A primary run stopper, Landman can play edge to edge and isn’t afraid to throw his body around. If the Patriots are going to switch to zone, could potentially end up a three down player, with his instincts and football IQ helping him get to the right place at the right time despite average athleticism. He should be able to contribute on special teams covering kicks right away.

    • Round 7, Pick 244: RB Trestan Ebner, Baylor

      WACO, TX -NOVEMBER 27: Trestan Ebner #1 of the Baylor Bears carries the ball past Colin Schooler #17 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders in the first half at McLane Stadium on November 27, 2021 in Waco, Texas. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

      WACO, TX -NOVEMBER 27: Trestan Ebner #1 of the Baylor Bears carries the ball past Colin Schooler #17 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders in the first half at McLane Stadium on November 27, 2021 in Waco, Texas. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

      In the last mock, Ebner was considered as a primary UDFA. Yet here, the Patriots pick him up towards the end of the seventh round.

      With James White coming off his hip injury and no other pass-catching back on the roster, the position is a sneaky need for the Patriots. Ebner comes from a pass-heavy offense at Baylor, where he caught 127 passes and had 11 receiving touchdowns in 58 career games.

      Ebner’s speed (4.43 40) and route running ability will make him a mismatch out of the backfield against most teams. He also is big enough (5-foot-11, 206 pounds) to compete as a blocker. Ebner may not be ready for the full receiving back role right away, but he could potentially take some snaps at that spot in 2022, with the upside to become the primary player at the position in a few years.

      On top of all of that, Ebner excels as a kick returner. He’s a two-time Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year, and has three career kickoff return touchdowns on his resume.

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