New England Patriots

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 28: A detailed view of the 2022 Draft logo during round one of the 2022 NFL Draft on April 28, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
  • Through three round of the NFL Draft, the Patriots have done their best to address needs on the roster. They added a starting guard on Day 1, then picked up speed at receiver and in the secondary on Day 2.

    They’ll have plenty of chances to continue rounding out their roster on Day 3 with seven scheduled picks over the final four rounds. Will Bill Belichick and Matt Groh continue to directly address holes on the roster? If so, here are the positions to watch and names to know on Saturday.

  • Defensive line

    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

    Generally, the Patriots like to add at least one defensive lineman in the draft. That desire might be more urgent this year after they finished last season ranked 25th against the run. This is a deep defensive tackle class, so they still have plenty of options on the board.

    Perrion Winfrey of Oklahoma stands out as a multi-positional talent who was projected to go on Day 2. His game profiles similar to Christian Barmore, and the two would be a difficult duo to block when on the field together. The Patriots already added one Senior Bowl standout in this draft in Cole Strange, and now could take the game’s MVP.

    In the later rounds, Kentucky’s Marquan McCall is a traditional early-down run-stopping nose tackle. He’s one of the biggest players in this draft, standing 6-foot-2 and weighing 342 pounds.

    Other names to know:

    –DT Matthew Butler, Tennessee
    –DT John Ridgeway, Arkansas
    –DT Neil Farrell, LSU
    –DT Otito Ogbonnia, UCLA
    –DT DJ Davidson, Arizona State
    –DT Haskell Garrett, Ohio State
    –DT Noah Elliss, Idaho
    –DL Thomas Booker, Stanford
    –DL Christopher Hinton, Michigan
    –DL LaBryan Ray, Alabama
    –DE Kingsley Enagbare, South Carolina
    –DE Christopher Allen, Alabama
    –DE Isaiah Thomas, Oklahoma
    –DE Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, Notre Dame

  • Linebacker

    Nov 6, 2021; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver Jameson Williams (1) is tackled by LSU Tigers defensive back Raydarious Jones (29) and linebacker Damone Clark (18) at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

    Nov 6, 2021; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver Jameson Williams (1) is tackled by LSU Tigers defensive back Raydarious Jones (29) and linebacker Damone Clark (18) at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

    While many observers saw linebacker as a need heading into this draft, the Patriots appear to not feel the same way internally. Director of player personnel Matt Groh suggested that Friday night, highlighting among other things the return of Cameron McGrone who missed 2021 recovering from a torn ACL.

    “Really excited about that group,” Groh said. “Excited to see Cam McGrone was able to get on the field a little bit last year, excited to see him be in an expanded role. He’s kind of an additional draft pick…Being able to add Mack Wilson, I know a lot was going on in free agency, and it was a trade and not a signing, but I think that was a really important part of adding some depth to the linebacking corps along with being able to get Ja’Whaun Bentley back. Really excited to have him and his experience, as well. I think we’ve got a lot of names there and a lot of experience, and mix in some youth, so I think it’s a good group.”

    While the Patriots may feel set at middle linebacker this year, Damone Clark from LSU could be viewed as a value pick on Day 3. Originally projected to go in the top 100, Clark had to have back surgery earlier this spring and will miss the 2022 season. The team could view him similarly to the way they viewed McGrone, who they took in the fifth round last year.

    Additionally, Groh didn’t address the outside linebacker position which saw a key loss this offseason following the departure of Kyle Van Noy. There’s a handful of interesting outside linebacker prospects remaining, highlighted by Penn State’s Jesse Luketa.

    Other names to know:

    –MLB Aaron Hansford, Texas A&M
    –MLB Brandon Smith, Penn State
    –MLB Darrian Beavers, Cincinnati
    –MLB Nate Landman, Colorado
    –MLB Josh Ross, Michigan
    –OLB Zakoby McClain, Auburn
    –LB Jeremiah Moon, Florida

  • Boundary cornerback

    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

    In third round pick Marcus Jones, the Patriots added a high-upside and potentially impact slot cornerback (as well as dynamic kick returner). With Jonathan Jones in a contract year, it feels like an on-point move.

    At the same time though, the team could still use help at the outside cornerback spot. The depth is still thin, and a number of top players at the position remain on the board. That includes both of Alabama’s starting cornerbacks, Josh Jobe and Jalyn Armour-Davis. Jobe is the safter and more NFL ready of the two, while Armour-Davis seems to offer more upside.

    Other names to know:

    –Tariq Woolen, UTSA
    –Zyon McCollum, Sam Houston State
    –Coby Bryant, Cincinnati
    –Akayleb Evans, Missouri
    –Chase Lucas, Arizona State
    –Jack Jones, Florida State
    –Jaylen Watson, Washington State
    –Mykael Wright, Oregon
    –Josh Thompson, Texas
    –Ja’Sir Taylor, Wake Forest
    –Dallis Flowers, Pittsburg State

  • Slot receiver

    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

    This is a similar idea to adding a boundary corner, but flipped. The Patriots added an outside receiver in Tyquan Thornton on Day 2. While that pick filled a hole, the team still has a projected long-term need in the slot with Jakobi Meyers entering a contract year and no depth currently behind him on the roster.

    Bo Melton of Rutgers seems like the most logical fit if the Patriots want to double up at the receiver position and pair Thornton with a slot player. A Senior Bowl star, Melton would fit the theme of adding speed that developed on Day 2, while still bringing the high-level route running the Patriots covet at the position. He can also contribute on special teams both as a returner and coverage player.

    Other names to know:

    –Khalil Shakir, Boise State
    –Calvin Austin III, Memphis
    –Jalen Nailor, Michigan State
    –Samori Toure, Nebraska
    –Jerreth Sterns, Western Kentucky
    –Britain Covey, Utah
    –Slade Bolden, Alabama
    –Deven Thompkins, Utah State

  • Pass-catching running back

    Sep 25, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; Texas A&M Aggies running back Isaiah Spiller (28) in action during the game between the Arkansas Razorbacks and the Texas A&M Aggies at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

    Sep 25, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; Texas A&M Aggies running back Isaiah Spiller (28) in action during the game between the Arkansas Razorbacks and the Texas A&M Aggies at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

    There may not be a more under-the-radar need on the Patriots’ roster than a running back that can contribute in the passing game. We all saw how important this role is when James White missed time last year. He’s not guaranteed to start this season as he’s still recovering from a hip injury, and last year’s backup Brandon Bolden left in free agency.

    The good news for the Patriots here is a number of talented running backs have fallen to Day 3. That includes Isaiah Spiller from Texas A&M, who some had as the top back in this class coming into this draft. Although his numbers may not reflect it, he was a big part of the Aggies passing game in his three seasons in College Station, winning on routes out of the backfield and at times lining up out wide. He’s also shown flashes of being a plus pass blocker.

    At the same time, the Patriots could look to add an early-down back. There’s not much depth behind Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson, and Harris is in a contract year.

    Other names to know:

    –Dameon Pierce, Florida
    –Zamir White, Georgia
    –Tyler Badie, Missouri
    –Pierre Strong, South Dakota State
    –Tyler Allgeier, BYU
    –Kyren Williams, Notre Dame
    –Trestan Ebner, Baylor
    –C.J. Verdell, Oregon
    –Hassan Haskins, Michigan
    –Isaih Pacheco, Rutgers
    –Bam Knight, North Carolina State
    –Max Borghi, Washington State
    –Leddie Brown, West Virginia

  • Future tackle

    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 25: Daniel Faalele #78 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers competes against the Bowling Green Falcons in the first quarter of the game at Huntington Bank Stadium on September 25, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Falcons defeated the Golden Gophers 14-10. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

    MINNEAPOLIS, MN – SEPTEMBER 25: Daniel Faalele #78 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers competes against the Bowling Green Falcons in the first quarter of the game at Huntington Bank Stadium on September 25, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Falcons defeated the Golden Gophers 14-10. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

    By drafting Cole Strange on Thursday, the Patriots took care of their immediate need on the offensive line. However, there’s still a long-term need at both tackle spots. Isaiah Wynn is entering a contract year, and Trent Brown is on a flexible two-year deal after struggling to stay on the field.

    At left tackle, Vederian Lowe of Illinois is one of the better project players remaining. He moved himself into draftable position by improving greatly in 2021, and the Patriots could look at that trajectory as a sign of high potential. Plus, he was coached by former Patriots assistant Bret Bielema, who is now the head coach for the Illini.

    On the right side, the Patriots could target Daniel Faalele from Minnesota. Physically, he’s one of only a handful of players that can be compared to Brown at 6-foot-8, 384 pounds. His game is still raw, but taking him for a redshirt year could be a strong investment.

    Other names to know:

    –Max Mitchell, Louisiana
    –Andrew Stueber, Michigan
    –Kellen Diesch, Arizona State
    –Ryan Van Demark, UConn
    –Tyler Vrabel, Boston College
    –Myron Cunningham, Arkansas

  • Other top players remaining

    Nov 13, 2021; Carson, California, USA; Nevada Wolf Pack wide receiver Romeo Doubs (7) catches a pass for a touchdown against the San Diego State Aztecs during the second half at Dignity Health Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

    Nov 13, 2021; Carson, California, USA; Nevada Wolf Pack wide receiver Romeo Doubs (7) catches a pass for a touchdown against the San Diego State Aztecs during the second half at Dignity Health Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

    These players don’t fit a position of need for the Patriots, but fell significantly based on their pre-draft projection. Often on Day 3, teams shift to a true ‘best player available’ approach, so they’re worth keeping an eye on.

    –QB Bailey Zappe, Western Kentucky
    –QB Sam Howell, UNC
    –QB Carson Strong, Nevada
    –WR Romeo Doubs, Nevada
    –WR Justyn Ross, Clemson
    –TE Isaiah Likely, Coastal Carolina
    –TE Charlie Kolar, Iowa State
    –OL Darian Kinnard, Kentucky
    –OL Jamaree Salyer, Georgia
    –OL Cade Mays, Tennessee
    –S Verone McKinley, Oregon
    –S Smoke Monday, Auburn
    –P Matt Araiza, San Diego State
    –P Jordan Sout, Penn State