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The Mass Media

Patriots 2022 draft preview

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Bianca Oppedisano
Recreation of the 2022 NFL Draft logo. Illustration by Bianca Oppedisano / Mass Media Staff

With the NFL draft fast approaching, the New England Patriots have the chance to upgrade their roster for another playoff run in 2022. The 2022 draft class is loaded with talent, including several players who could make impacts for the Patriots at positions of need. Let’s go over some of those positions and the prospects who might be able to fill them.
The Patriots hit on multiple picks in 2021, first and foremost with Mac Jones out of Alabama in round one, who looks like their franchise quarterback of the future. But they also drafted several other impact players, such as Jones’ fellow Crimson Tide alum defensive lineman Christian Barmore, who finished ninth among all interior defensive linemen in total quarterback pressures according to the advanced analytics website Pro Football Focus. They also picked up running back Rhamondre Stevenson out of Oklahoma in the fourth round. Stevenson ran for over 600 yards on only 133 attempts, good for an effective 4.6 yards per carry, and also caught 14 passes for 123 yards, giving Bill Belichick yet another effective weapon out of the offensive backfield.
The biggest need the Patriots have this offseason is to find Jones a true number one receiver to unlock his potential. We all saw how Buffalo’s Josh Allen went from looking like a bust to an All-Pro after the Bills traded for star-wideout Stefon Diggs in 2020, or how Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow made a massive leap in year two after the Bengals drafted his former Louisiana State University teammate, Ja’Marr Chase, in 2021. The 2022 class has several potential star receivers in it. One of them is Alabama’s Jameson Williams. In 2021, Williams, after transferring to Tuscaloosa from Ohio State, had a superb year, catching 79 passes for 1,572 yards and 15 touchdowns in 15 games. However, Williams’ season ended on a sour note, as he injured his knee in the national championship game against Georgia.
Another area the Patriots might address in the draft is the cornerback position. J.C. Jackson, who was a Pro Bowler and second-team All-Pro in 2021, has played his last snap as a Patriot. This past week, Jackson signed a deal to play for the now stacked Los Angles Chargers. One player who could help them is Florida’s Kaiir Elam. Elam doesn’t exactly make all the splashy plays at corner, but he has shown to be an effective cover man against the dangerous passing attacks of the Southeastern Conference. If he were to be drafted and coached up, he could be yet another cornerback success story at 1 Patriot Place.
The Patriots could also stand to improve at the edge rusher position. First-year free-agent signee Matthew Judon was terrific in 2021, garnering 12.5 sacks, but none over the last four games of the year. To take some of the load off Judon, the Patriots could draft rush linebacker David Ojabo out of Michigan. Ojabo was part of a Wolverines defense that made it to the College Football Playoff in 2021. Ojabo was a monster on that team, with 11 sacks and five forced fumbles for the Blue. Should the Patriots draft him, they would have quite the edge-rushing duo with Ojabo and Judon.

About the Contributors
Jack Sherman, Sports Writer
Bianca Oppedisano, Illustrator