The long-awaited 2022 NFL Draft is nearly here. In less than a week’s time (the draft begins Thursday, April 28th), we will find out the newest members of the New England Patriots.
Who will those new members be? It’s anyone’s guess, but there are hints into Bill Belichick’s drafting philosophy when you examine his draft history. For example, we know that Belichick prefers drafting from college programs he trusts and where he has a relationship with someone on the coaching staff. We also know that the Patriots’ brain trust loves team captains, prospects with an abundance of starting experience, and Senior Bowl participants/standouts.
Using those insights combined with New England’s current team needs and system fit, we created a top 50 Patriots draft board sorted by position.
(NOTE: Players like Ahmad Gardner, Jameson Williams, and Jordan Davis are an ideal fit, but we didn’t include them in this exercise as they are likely to go before pick 21. If they were to fall, they would make great fits in New England. Additionally, a majority of the prospects on our big board are round 1-4 targets. That said, we did include a couple of late-round fits on the board.)
Patriots Top 50 Big Board
For obvious reasons, the Patriots aren’t going to add a quarterback that requires significant draft capital. They could potentially look for backup options in the late rounds.
Running Back: 2
Brian Robinson Jr., Alabama: A physical runner with excellent size, Robinson is a logical fit with Damien Harris in a contract year.
Kyren Williams, Notre Dame: Williams has strong hands and is an excellent pass blocker. His abilities as a third-down back will surely catch Bill Belichick’s eye.
Wide Receiver: 8
Treylon Burks, Arkansas: Burks is being undervalued due to an underwhelming combine performance. On tape, he’s shown to be dangerous with the ball in his hands and much faster than his 4.55 40-yard dash time.
Jahan Dotson, Penn State: Want a wideout that can step in and contribute on day one? Dotson is the guy. He’s a great router runner and would feast in the slot in the New England offense.
George Pickens, Georgia: If not for his injury history, Pickens would likely be a sure-fire first-round pick. Instead, Pickens may slide to round two. He’s got great size and speed and would be an impact player on the outside.
Skyy Moore, Western Michigan: Due to his quickness and toughness some have compared Moore to Julian Edelman. That says all you need to know about Moore’s fit with New England.
John Metchie, Alabama: Metchie played with Mac Jones and is a Nick Saban favorite. He also possesses top-tier route-running ability. Metchie is a clear draft fit.
Alec Pierce, Cincinnati: Pierce is a top-tier deep threat. He has great size and speed. He needs to refine his route running, but could be a steal with the right development.
David Bell, Purdue: Bell is sliding down draft boards due to his poor testing numbers, which could result in a nice “value pick” in later rounds. He’s got good hands and can play slot or out wide.
Khalil Shakir, Boise State: Shakir is a quick shifty slot receiver that can also aid in the return game.
Tight End: 1
Connor Heyward, Michigan State: Heyward is a late-round hybrid fullback/tight end target. Former NFL Scout Daniel Jeremiah had this to say about Heyward: “I wrote down in my notes: just give him to the Patriots. They’ll figure out exactly how to use him, and they’ll value his toughness.”
Offensive Tackle: 6
Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa: A Senior Bowl standout with great size and length Penning is an ideal long-term fit for New England at the tackle position.
Bernhard Raimann, Central Michigan: Another Senior Bowl standout, Raimann, who’s still relatively new to playing left tackle, has picked up the position surprisingly quickly. He may need some more development, but he has all the traits.
Daniel Faalele, Minnesota: Faalele stands in at 6’8” and weighs a whopping 384 lbs. He’s an absolute monster. His strength and size make him a very intriguing prospect.
Vederian Lowe, Illinois: Lowe is a late-round target for the Patriots. He’s experienced and offers value as a backup tackle if the Patriots don’t draft an offensive tackle early in the draft.
Ryan Van Demark, Connecticut: This is another late-round target for the Patriots. Van Demark is a former team captain with ideal length and football IQ. Additionally, he has experience at both tackle spots. He will need development, but it could be worth a flier in the sixth or seventh round.
Jamaree Salyer, Georgia: Salyer, while being listed as a tackle may end up being more of an interior lineman in the NFL. He’s a powerful lineman and a switch to the interior wouldn’t be a big change as he’s taken snaps at guard and center before. That versatility is a huge asset.
Interior Offensive Line: 5
Zion Johnson, Boston College: A two-time team captain, Johnson is a day one starter at left guard.
Kenyon Green, Texas A&M: Green is best when playing guard, but he does bring experience at both tackle positions. He’s a mauler with good size and length.
Dylan Parham, Memphis: Parham has a ton of experience at both guard spots and his athletic testing at the combine was pretty good too.
Sean Rhyan, UCLA: Ryhan played left tackle at UCLA, but projects to be a guard in the NFL. He has incredible athleticism and offers enough length to play tackle in emergency situations.
Luke Goedeke, Central Michigan: Goedeke doesn’t have the length to remain at tackle, but his strength and technique will make him a top-notch guard prospect.
Interior Defensive Line: 4
Travis Jones, UConn: Jones was a Senior Bowl standout and would instantly upgrade the Patriots’ run defense.
Perrion Winfrey, Oklahoma: Winfrey was the Senior Bowl MVP and an obvious draft target. He is a high-level athlete and can really get after the quarterback.
Phidarian Mathis, Alabama: The Alabama connection and the Patriots’ need for another run-stuffing defensive lineman will put Mathis on New England’s radar.
John Ridgeway, Arkansas: Ridgeway specializes in stopping the run. He’s physical and will allow linebackers to roam while he clogs the rushing lanes.
David Ojabo, Michigan: Ojabo, who was once considered one of the best edge prospects in the 2022 draft class, will now fall to round two or three due to an Achilles injury that will force him to miss his entire rookie season. If Ojabo can come back healthy, he’ll be one of the steals of the draft.
Boye Mafe, Minnesota: Mafe is a bit raw, but he offers great value as a pass rusher.
Nik Bonitto, Oklahoma: Bonitto can wreak havoc on quarterbacks with his exceptional speed and athleticism.
Drake Jackson, USC: Jackson is only 20 years old, but he’s got all the athletic traits you want in an edge defender. Taking time to refine his technique will be vital, but the upside is there.
Josh Paschal, Kentucky: Paschal was a versatile chess piece for Kentucky, as he played edge and in the interior. That kind of versatility will entice New England.
Devin Lloyd, Utah: Lloyd is a perfect modern-day linebacker. He can stop the run, cover the pass, and rush the passer. That’s exactly the skillset New England needs to bring to their defense.
Nakobe Dean, Georgia: Dean has tremendous amounts of speed and playmaking ability. He’s a little smaller, but he’s physical enough to fight through blocks.
Christian Harris, Alabama: Another Saban prospect makes the list, and for good reason. Harris has speed, high football IQ, and good tackling ability.
Chad Muma, Wyoming: Muma is a great athlete and excels at locating the ball and finishing the tackle. Rarely does Muma miss a tackle.
Troy Andersen, Montana State: Andersen isn’t a perfect prospect, he’s raw and didn’t play great competition in college, but he’s an athletic freak with tools Belichick would love to develop.
Quay Walker, Georgia: Walker has size, speed, cover ability, and strong tackling technique. He’s the complete package.
Leo Chenal, Wisconsin: Chenal is of the bigger linebackers in this year’s class, yet surprisingly he had elite athletic testing numbers. He may not be the best cover linebacker, but his combination of size, strength, and athleticism is hard to find.
Darrian Beavers, Cincinnati: Beavers doesn’t have as much speed and coverage ability as some of the other linebackers in this class, but he’s great in run defense and offers some upside as a blitzer.
Trent McDuffie, Washington: McDuffie is one of the best corner prospects in the 2022 draft class. He can play both man and zone coverage at a high level. Due to being slightly undersized, McDuffie could slide to the Patriots at pick 21.
Andrew Booth Jr., Clemson: Booth has the best ball skills in this year’s class, but lingering injury concerns could cause a draft-day slide.
Kaiir Elam, Florida: Elam is best playing press coverage. His physicality, length, and 4.39 speed make him a prospect to watch.
Kyler Gordon, Washington: Gordon may not be as polished as some of the other corner prospects, but he has the tools necessary to grow into a starting corner.
Zyon McCollum, Sam Houston State: McCollum is a developmental prospect with oodles of upside. Why so much upside? Well, he’s 6’2”, weighs 199lbs, and ran a 4.33 40-yard dash. His combine performance was one of the best all-time at the corner position.
Coby Bryant, Cincinnati: Bryant has some ball hawk in him and he holds up well in man coverage. He’s a nice option if the Patriots wait to select a corner until the mid-rounds.
Jalyn Armour-Davis, Alabama: The Alabama pipeline continues. Armour-Davis has a very intriguing skillset, but the medical evaluation will be important, as he’s had a couple of injuries in college. He’s a good mid-round option.
Jack Jones, Arizona State: The Patriots met with Jones in the pre-draft process, thus showing some interest already. He could be a potential day three target with upside.
Daxton Hill, Michigan: Hill can play in the slot or as a deep safety. His athleticism is superb, and he’s great in coverage and a willing tackler. There’s a lot to love when it comes to Hill as a prospect.
Jalen Pitre, Baylor: Pitre can play in the box or at slot. He has a nose for the football and will be productive anywhere he’s placed.
Lewis Cine, Georgia: Cine is a heck of a run defender and he’s good in coverage too. Being capable in both run and pass defense makes Cine a very desirable prospect for a Patriots team that seeks versatility in the secondary.