The New England Patriots have a lot of positions to fill in the 2022 NFL Draft. Fortunately, there are several deep classes at positions they need, like wide receiver, linebacker, and guard. They will still be able to get solid players at those positions in the later rounds. But they also need positions that are top-heavy in this draft class, like cornerback and tackle and therein lies the rub. So, they may want to draft a corner or tackle first based on supply and demand.
Patriots NFL Draft Presents Tough Decision Between Cornerback or Tackle
There are three elite cornerbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft, Derek Stingley Jr., Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, and Trent McDuffie. After them, there is a considerable drop-off. It is unlikely that those players make it to the Patriots with the 21st pick. But they are in an excellent position to take a solid cornerback like Kaiir Elam or Andrew Booth Jr. After them, there is another considerable drop-off, so the time to strike for a corner is in the first round.
On the other hand, they may pounce if one of the top five tackles falls down the draft board. Drafting a tackle in the first round is not a crowd-pleaser, but the Patriots need linemen, and the first round is where they are. Isaiah Wynn could possibly move inside this year, making a void at tackle. They also will need depth behind the often-injured Wynn and Trent Brown.
This year, the class of tackles is top-heavy, and according to Pro Football Focus, “you still want one of the top five tackles and don’t want to be the team that reaches for the sixth.” So, Bill Belichick faces a tough decision, he can draft a good cornerback or a good tackle, and he cannot have both without a trade-up. It all depends on his confidence in Malcolm Butler and Terrance Mitchell.
A Fast, Elite Linebacker May Be a Quick Decision
Other than Ja’Whaun Bentley, the Patriots have a lot of question marks at linebacker, and this draft could provide answers. The current linebacker core needs to get faster, younger, and more versatile, and those types of players are in this draft.
In this year’s draft class, linebacker is the second deepest position. There may only be two linebackers taken for the first round, Devin Lloyd from Utah and Nakobe Dean from Georgia. However, there are 11 linebackers between the 33rd and 100th rank on the Pro Football Focus draft board. So, the Patriots can fill this need in rounds two or three. But, if Lloyd falls to them at 21, it may be a quick decision, and Belichick will dart to the podium.
A High Ceiling Player Like Jameson Williams Would be Ideal
The Patriots NFL Draft will highlight a lot of holes to fill, but they also need elite skill position players. Because tackles and cornerbacks are top-heavy positions in this draft, Belichick has some callous decisions.
Fans do not want to hear that their team is trading back and acquiring more picks in this draft. However, they do need more draft picks. For the sake of this article, we won’t discuss trading back, since that type of exercise involves projecting the needs of two separate teams.
Ideally, the Patriots will draft a player that will make an impact immediately and still fill their needs in the later rounds. They will also be looking at undrafted prospects, and they have had success with that in the past.
Drafting a player like Jameson Williams from Alabama would make the team instantly better and could be a franchise-altering pick. He would be the first receiver taken in this class if he had not torn his ACL during the national championship. But it would take some luck for him to fall past the Philadelphia Eagles at picks 15 and 18. It will be fascinating to see Belichick’s decision if Williams falls to them, and an elite tackle or elite defensive player is available.
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