The Patriots’ needs on all three levels defensively and at wide receiver outweigh the necessity to add at the position groups that worked out on Friday night at the combine.
However, New England often uses the draft to focus on needs that could present themselves multiple seasons down the road to keep the cupboard stocked on the depth chart.
The Patriots have some question marks in the future at both tackle spots along the offensive line, with Trent Brown entering free agency and Isaiah Wynn on his fifth-year option.
Damien Harris is in a contract year at running back while top receiving back James White enters his age 30 season as a free agent.
As long as his rehab continues moving in a positive direction, the team is hopeful that James White will return next season. Still, White needs a successor, and second-year running back Rhamondre Stevenson could need a spell back if the team doesn’t retain Harris after 2022.
With the long-term plans at offensive tackle and running back uncertain, we’d categorize those positions as “secondary” needs. The more pressing holes are on defense and at the skill positions, but if a future starter at left tackle is available, the Patriots could go in that direction.
If not, it should be easy for former offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia to find intriguing day-three sleepers that fit in New England with a deep group of athletic offensive linemen.
There were 12 offensive linemen who ran sub-5 second 40-yard dashes on Friday night, a new combine record since 2003. In fact, it’s double any other class in Indy.
Here’s a stock up, stock down from the offensive line and running back workouts on Friday night:
1. Northern Iowa OT Trevon Penning Checks Boxes as First-Round Prospect
Trevor Penning is a OT prospect in the 2022 draft class. He scored an unofficial 9.96 RAS at the Combine out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 6 out of 1146 OT from 1987 to 2022. https://t.co/0NX5hNfbgc #RAS via @Mathbomb pic.twitter.com/cqehjxbJ2r
— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 5, 2022
To avoid declaring every first-round prospect as a top-20 talent, I’m not ready to crown Penning as a top 20 pick. But the Northern Iowa product had a relative athletic score of 9.96 out of ten, with one of the best workouts for an offensive linemen in combine history. His tape is nasty, powerful, and he has good initial explosiveness out of his stance that was backed up by a 1.71-second ten-yard split (97th percentile). As a small school prospect who had ups and downs at the Senior Bowl, you wanted to see Penning test as an elite athlete to feel comfortable with him at 21 for the Pats. Well, if New England wants to go with a tackle in the first round, Penning is likely their guy.
2. Central Michigan OT Bernard Raimann a Trade Down Candidate for Patriots
Bernhard Raimann is a OT prospect in the 2022 draft class. He scored an unofficial 9.81 RAS at the Combine out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 23 out of 1146 OT from 1987 to 2022. https://t.co/llJLsuCZdi #RAS via @Mathbomb pic.twitter.com/PE4Wh441ER
— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 5, 2022
The Central Michigan left tackle is another small school prospect who solidified himself as a top-50 talent with a relative athletic score of 9.81 out of ten. He was also smooth in on-field drills. Most expected Raimann to test well as a former tight end who made the switch to left tackle, checking every box in the athletic profile at 6-6, 303 pounds with 33-inch arms. On tape, you see elite explosiveness out of his stance to get out on screens or reach blocks on outside ruins. He’s a very fluid and balanced athlete with smooth feet in his pass sets. Raimann, who is similarly an older prospect at age 24, feels like Kyle Dugger 2.0. Small school, elite athlete, Senior Bowl participant. A potential trade-down candidate as an early second-rounder for New England.
3. Tulsa OT Tyler Smith Has Athleticism and Play Strength That Fit New England
The last top 50 tackle prospect we’ll discuss here is Tulsa’s Tyler Smith, who some scouts have as a first-round pick, especially after posting a relative athletic score of 8.81 out of ten. Smith has the strongest hands and initial pop in his punch in this class. He moves people with instant explosiveness out of his stance and hand power for some devastating blocks. Although it was surprising to hear the first-round buzz around Smith at first, now, it makes sense.
4. Washington State OT Abraham Lucas an Interesting Project
Lucas was a four-year starter in Washington State’s air raid system which means he has plenty of experience in pass protection. Although the Pats will be wary of his rawness in run blocking, Lucas is a 6-6, 315-pound left tackle who ran a 4.92-second 40-yard dash. The Washington State product uses his nearly 34-inch arms and excellent grip strength in his vertical pass sets to latch onto defenders to win early in the rep. He has the playing strength and length to win battles at left tackle. The Pats will need to develop his leverage points and pad level as a run blocker, but there’s a lot of upside here for a mid-round pick.
5. Is O-Line 40-Yard King & Kentucky OT Dare Rosenthal a Patriots Fit?
Most evaluators had their eyes on Kentucky right tackle Darrian Kinnard in the draft process, with Kinnard likely landing in the second round. However, Rosenthall led all offensive linemen with a 4.88-second 40-yard dash in a group of fast offensive linemen. Kentucky’s left tackle has flashes of that athleticism on tape and is a fluid athlete to make blocks on the move. You also see him drive blocks through the whistle and kick out on the edge with his length (6-7/33-inch arms). Rosenthal is technically raw. But a disciplined program in New England with a history of developing athletic tackles with intriguing physical tools could tap into his potential.
6. Tulsa T/G Chris Paul Has Patriots-Like Versatility and a Good Athletic Profile
Paul made 38 career starts in his career at Tulsa, seeing time at right tackle (18 starts), left guard (12 starts), right guard (eight starts), and played sparingly at left tackle. The Patriots love players who play multiple possessions along the offensive line, and Paul tested with a relative athletic score of 9.82 out of ten. He’s got some playing strength to move defenders, too. Maybe one of those day-three finds for Scar and the Pats.
7. Notre Dame Dual-Threat RB Kyren Williams Hurts Draft Stock With Sub-Par 40 Time
On the one hand, Kyren Williams’s slower 40-yard dash time could drop him out of the top 100, making it a stronger possibility that the Patriots will take him on day three. But on the other hand, a running back with a 4.70-second 40-yard dash will make you revisit the tape. Based on my eval, Williams plays faster than the 4.72 would indicate. He has tremendous value as a passing downs option thanks to his soft hands and excellent skills as a pass blocker. If this does cause him to drop, I’d take it as a win for the Pats, who probably aren’t considering a running back in the top 100 anyway.
8. Missouri RB Tyler Badie is a Name to Know For James White Role
My podcast co-host Alex Barth turned me into a Badie believer, and so did his 4.45-second 40-yard dash. NFL Network’s Lance Zierlien compared Badie to Eagles running back Kenneth Gainwell, a dynamic pass-catching back in college. Badie had 126 career catches at Missouri and projects nicely into a pass-catching back role. He’s now squarely on our radar.