New England Patriots

ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 26: A video board displays the text "THE PICK IS IN" for the New England Patriots during the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium on April 26, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
  • It’s draft week! With the Patriots’ first selection just days away, it’s time for our final mock draft of the year.

    What has changed since our last Patriots mock from early April? There’s been a number of Pro Days and Top 30 visits completed. There’s also more reports giving insight on how the league feels about certain players, or the approach of some specific teams.

    With all of that new information, let’s take a look at the board one last time. Here’s our third and final Patriots seven-round mock draft of 2022.

  • Round 1, Pick 21: OT Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa

    Mar 4, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Northern Iowa offensive lineman Trevor Penning (OL38) goes through drills during the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Mar 4, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Northern Iowa offensive lineman Trevor Penning (OL38) goes through drills during the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Left tackle isn’t a truly immediate need, but with the way the Patriots have handled the position in the past it may as well be. They’ve done a terrific job of staying ahead of things at the position under Bill Belichick, with just three players – Matt Light, Nate Solder, and Isaiah Wynn – manning the spot outside of injury issues over the past two decades.

    When it came time to replace Light, the Patriots drafted Solder a year before his departure, giving him time to develop and adjust to the NFL game. With Wynn now in a contract  year, don’t be surprised if something similar happens again.

    Penning has quickly shot up draft boards over the last few months, in particular due to his strong performance at the Senior Bowl. He was named offensive lineman of the week for his team, an award voted on by the defensive linemen he faced. Traditionally, the Patriots pay close attention to the Senior Bowl, with 40 percent of their picks since 2008 having played in the game.

    In terms of his play style, Penning is an imposing figure at 6-foot-7, 325 pounds. At the Combine he showed how he moves surprisingly well for a player that big, pacing all offensive linemen with a 7.25 second 3-cone and finishing fourth-best with a 4.89 second 40. That will play well in the Patriots’ system at left tackle. His carrying trait though is his motor, and he showed repeatedly that he’ll finish his blocks with an exclamation point on a regular basis. There won’t be many players more nasty than he is lining up across from him.

    Right away, Penning should be able to step in and give the Patriots starting reps at right tackle if Trent Brown can’t play the full 17 games this season. Long term (as in 2023 and beyond), he offers starting left tackle potential. That would be a similar path to the one taken by Solder, who filled in for an injured Sebastian Vollmer at right tackle as a rookie before taking over the left tackle spot full time the next year.

  • Round 2, Pick 54: LB Leo Chenal, Wisconsin

    MADISON, WISCONSIN - NOVEMBER 13: Marshall Lang #88 of the Northwestern Wildcats is tackled by Leo Chenal #5 of the Wisconsin Badgers after making a catch in the first half at Camp Randall Stadium on November 13, 2021 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

    MADISON, WISCONSIN – NOVEMBER 13: Marshall Lang #88 of the Northwestern Wildcats is tackled by Leo Chenal #5 of the Wisconsin Badgers after making a catch in the first half at Camp Randall Stadium on November 13, 2021 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

    In New England, the number 54 has been associated with linebacker greatness for the last two decades. Tedy Bruschi wore it as the team’s starting middle linebacker during three Super Bowl wins in the early 2000’s, then Dont’a Hightower did the same in the 2010’s. With the 54th pick in this draft, the Patriots add a player who could be the next playmaker for them at the position.

    There’s been a lot of talk about the Patriots getting quicker, more athletic linebackers to help handle the modern offenses they’ll face. At the same time, they need size at the position to play in their current scheme.

    Chenal checks both boxes, making him a unique fit in New England. At 6-foot-3, 250 pounds he’s one of the biggest linebackers in this class. With that, he’s much more explosive athletically than most players his size. At the Combine, he finished top five among linebackers in the vertical and broad jumps, and his 4.53 second 40 ranked seventh among 23 players who tested at the position.

    On early downs, Chenal can play the run not just down hill, but moving sideline to sideline as well. He can also get after the quarterback, and once in the backfield should be able to keep up with some of the more elusive passers. At Wisconsin, he wasn’t used much in coverage but there’s no reason to think he can’t grow that part of his game over the next few years given his ability to move laterally and his football IQ.

  • Trade

    Mar 16, 2022; Atlanta, GA, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and senior advisor Matt Patricia watch during Georgia Pro Day at William Porter Payne and Porter Otis Payne Indoor Athletic Facility. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

    Mar 16, 2022; Atlanta, GA, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and senior advisor Matt Patricia watch during Georgia Pro Day at William Porter Payne and Porter Otis Payne Indoor Athletic Facility. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

    Patriots get:

    –93rd overall pick (3rd round)
    –172nd overall pick (5th round)
    –2023 5th round pick

    49ers get:

    –85th overall pick (3rd round)

    The Patriots see a chance to pick up some additional draft capital, and make a trade with a familiar partner in the 49ers. According to the NFL trade chart the Niners overpay slightly to move up (as is usually the case) giving up 54 points worth of picks for the 85th overall selection, which is worth 50.

  • Round 3, Pick 93: WR Khalil Shakir, Boise State

    CARSON, CA - NOVEMBER 26: Khalil Shakir #2 of the Boise State Broncos runs with the ball against the San Diego State Aztecson November 26, 2021 at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California. (Photo by Tom Hauck/Getty Images)

    CARSON, CA – NOVEMBER 26: Khalil Shakir #2 of the Boise State Broncos runs with the ball against the San Diego State Aztecson November 26, 2021 at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California. (Photo by Tom Hauck/Getty Images)

    While they might not be the top flight talent some fans are hoping for, the Patriots have a pair of quality outside receivers under contract both in 2022 and 2023 in Kendrick Bourne and DeVante Parker (Nelson Agholor is in a contract year). With receivers like Jameson Williams, Chris Olave, and Garrett Wilson off the board at 21, it would take a diamond in the rough find for the team to find an immediate upgrade there in this year’s draft.

    In the slot meanwhile, the needs are a bit more immediate. Jakobi Meyers is heading into the final year of his contract, and there isn’t much in terms of depth behind him on the roster right now.

    With their third round pick, the Patriots bring in a player in Shakir who is one of the top slot receivers in this class. Shakir should be able to help out some in 2022, and projects to be able to take over in the slot in the (likely) event Meyers leaves as an unrestricted free agent in 2023.

    Shakir will bring good speed to the position – he ran a 4.43 second 40 at the Combine – and matches that with good short-area quickness and agility. He’s at his best after the catch, pairing that quickness with an elite motor and willingness to embrace contact. At 6-foot, 196 pounds, he has the size to compete physically with defensive backs.

    There’s also some versatility in Shakir’s game. He occasionally lined up in the backfield at Boise State and was sometimes used as a ballcarrier. He also returned 24 kickoffs and seven punts in four seasons with the Broncos.

  • Round 4, Pick 127: CB Josh Jobe, Alabama

    Sep 18, 2021; Gainesville, Florida, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Josh Jobe (28) against the Florida Gators at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    Sep 18, 2021; Gainesville, Florida, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Josh Jobe (28) against the Florida Gators at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    A year ago, Josh Jobe was a projected first round pick and a top three cornerback in this class. So why are the Patriots getting him in the fourth round?

    First, Jobe had an up-and-down year in 2021. He played through a foot injury for most of the season, and it showed. That injury ended up holding him out of the last couple of games.

    That may not be a deal-breaker for the Patriots though. A number of their draft picks last year – including Rhamondre Stevenson and Ronnie Perkins – were better in 2020 than 2021. They should also be able to get a clear picture of where Jobe is at from Belichick’s friend and Alabama head coach Nick Saban.

    The other thing hurting Jobe’s stock is he’s a scheme specific player. He’s a good press-man cornerback, but he’s a press-man cornerback. Playing in any other scheme is going to be a significant adjustment for him. Teams with other defensive philosophies likely won’t have him ranked as high. But for the Patriots – a team that likes bigger, physical press corners – that shouldn’t be an issue.

    If Jobe can get to his 2020 ceiling, the Patriots will have gotten their next franchise cornerback outside of the top 100. Even if he falls short, they still add a solid rotational player in a secondary that is lacking depth as well as top-end talent.

  • 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:

    –138th overall pick (4th round)
    –241nd overall pick (7th round)

    Steelers get:

    –158th overall pick (5th round)
    –172nd overall pick (5th round)

    The Patriots historically haven’t been big on picking in the fifth round. They’ve made just six fifth-round selections in the last 10 years, while trading away 18 fifth-round picks in that same window.

    After the earlier trade, they have three picks in the fifth in this draft, so they package two to move up. This one is even on the trade chart, 19 points for 19 points.

  • Round 4, Pick 138: DT Neil Farrell Jr., LSU

    Nov 16, 2019; Oxford, MS, USA; Louisiana State Tigers defensive lineman Neil Farrell, Jr. (92) lines up against the Mississippi Rebels in the first half at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

    Nov 16, 2019; Oxford, MS, USA; Louisiana State Tigers defensive lineman Neil Farrell, Jr. (92) lines up against the Mississippi Rebels in the first half at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

    In each of these mock drafts, we’ve had the Patriots grabbing a nose tackle at some point to help a defense that ranked 25th last year in yards per carry. This class is very deep at the position, and it seems logical the Patriots would take advantage.

    This time around, the pick at the position is Farrell. At 6-foot-4, 330 pounds, Farrell is going to sit in the middle of the defensive line on early downs and eat blocks while linebackers flow to the football. Putting him up front with guys like Davon Godchaux and Lawrence Guy would give the Patriots a ton of size up front, a necessity if they want to play with smaller linebackers like Mack Wilson and Cameron McGrone. Unlike some of the other true nose tackles in this class, Farrell’s game offers some some sneaky potential pass rush upside, which could lead to him being selected higher than expected. He’s also a Senior Bowl guy and was named the best defensive lineman for the American team.

  • Round 5, Pick 170: RB Hassan Haskins, Michigan

    ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN - OCTOBER 23: Hassan Haskins #25 of the Michigan Wolverines plays against the Northwestern Wildcats at Michigan Stadium on October 23, 2021 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

    ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN – OCTOBER 23: Hassan Haskins #25 of the Michigan Wolverines plays against the Northwestern Wildcats at Michigan Stadium on October 23, 2021 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

    The Patriots have taken a running back in three of the last four drafts. It’s a position they like to have depth at, especially players on rookie contracts. That depth is a little on the thin side right now, and Damien Harris is entering a contract year. He’s been one of the best early-down backs in football the last two years, so it could be expensive to bring him back next spring. PFF has him as the only running back with a season grade over 85 in each of the past two season.

    Either way, running back could be on their radar. If so, Hassan Haskins makes a lot of sense as an early down back. Haskins is a big back at 6-foot-2, 228 pounds. He plays with every bit of his frame, and is always a challenge to bring down in the hole.

    His game profiles as the typical Patriots early-down back – he’s not a big-play threat, but he rarely if ever has negative runs. Haskins also is sure-handed with the ball in his hands – he didn’t fumble once on 443 carries dating back to 2019, which is the most carries without a fumble by any college back in that span. Of course, he brings the Michigan connection as well.

    Of course, the Patriots could be in the market for a pass-catching back as well in this range. If that’s the case, Missouri’s Tyler Badie and Notre Dame’s Kyren Williams would both be fits here.

  • Round 6, Pick 200: G Joshua Ezeudu, North Carolina

    Mar 4, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; North Carolina offensive lineman Joshua Ezeudu (OL14) goes through drills during the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Mar 4, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; North Carolina offensive lineman Joshua Ezeudu (OL14) goes through drills during the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Joshua Ezeudu’s NFL.com scouting report begins “a guard prospect with technical kinks in need of being worked out, Ezeudu possesses the traits and athleticism to find an NFL home.” That’s a fitting description for most of the offensive linemen the Patriots take on Day 3 of the draft.

    They’ve had success bringing in naturally talented yet unpolished offensive linemen, and coaching them up into starting-caliber players. That’s been true even beyond the Dante Scarnecchia era, with Michael Onwenu being the main example.

    At 6-foot-4, 325 pounds, Ezudu has the build to play left guard for the Patriots – the same position where he was a multi-season starter at UNC. If his game develops quickly, he could reasonably compete for the starting job vacated by the departure of Ted Karras. He also has some experience playing left tackle.

  • Round 6, Pick 210: LB Jeremiah Moon, Florida

    Sep 18, 2021; Gainesville, Florida, USA; Florida Gators linebacker Jeremiah Moon (7) against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    Sep 18, 2021; Gainesville, Florida, USA; Florida Gators linebacker Jeremiah Moon (7) against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    One major Patriots draft trend that slipped by in this draft is their recent history with Day 2 edge defenders. They’ve taken either a defensive end or outside linebacker in the second or third round in three drafts in a row, and in four of the last five. With that, they’ve built up considerable depth. It’s hard to imagine them going the entire draft without adding an edge guy, but this so many top 100 players at the position already on the roster, they’re more patient this year.

    Moon is a really interesting fit for the Patriots at this point in the draft. He was a defensive end for most of his career at Florida before moving to outside linebacker to start the 2021 season. That shift seemed to really unlock his game, as he was better able to use his natural athleticism. By the end of the season, he was occasionally playing middle linebacker on passing downs as well.

    Last month, Moon was one of the best testers at the linebacker position at the Combine. At 6-foot-5, 249 pounds he posted a 40.5-inch vertical jump and 11-foot-1-inch broad jump. Those ranked second and first respectively at the position. He also ran a 4.76 40.

    If the Patriots were to draft Moon he could likely come in and contribute immediately on special teams, while continuing to develop as a multi-positional second-level player. He’d be a strong investment late on Day 3.

  • Round 7, Pick 241: CB Dallis Flowers, Pittsburg State

    In 2019 and 2020, Flowers was an NAIA All-American as both a cornerback and kick returner at Grand View University. He transferred to Division-II Pittsburg State in 2021, where he was named an all-conference cornerback and ranked second nationally averaging 33.7 yards per kickoff return with two touchdowns. After the season, Flowers was invited to participate in the Shrine Bowl.

    In New England, Flowers would compete and likely be the favorite for the kick and punt returning jobs, potentially serving as a replacement for another Division-II standout, Gunner Olszewski. However, he would offer more upside at his listed position than Olszewski did. A natural cornerback, Flowers is a tremendous athlete. He ran a 4.43 second 40 with a 6.98 3-cone at his Pro Day at 6-foot-1, 196 pounds. While he likely wouldn’t be ready for any significant cornerback snaps right away, it’s not totally impossible he could get there down the road.