The consensus opinion surrounding the 2022 NFL Draft is that there isn’t a consensus.
Teams’ boards are stacked completely differently from top to bottom, and nobody knows where or how many quarterbacks will go in the first round.
For the Patriots, their first-round selection comes down to answering one critical question:
Is Bill Belichick drafting to maximize New England’s win potential this season or taking a more long-term approach?
If Belichick is looking for instant contributors to compete in 2022, the first round has impact defenders and offensive playmakers at wide receiver to move the needle immediately.
Alternatively, the Patriots only have 34 players under contract beyond the 2022 season, and some of those players are potential cut candidates this summer. New England is also projected to be flushed with cap space again next offseason, similar to the 2021 free-agency spending spree.
The Pats could address a future need at offensive tackle with future uncertainty surrounding Isaiah Wynn (2023 free agent) and Trent Brown (health concerns). Another thought is deep safety, with Devin McCourty’s retirement looming.
In our last mock draft before the 2022 draft, we’ll have one foot in each door to address Nea England’s needs.
Here is our best and final stab at a Patriots seven-round mock draft:
TRADE: Pats Trade No. 21 to Detroit for No. 32 and No. 66
Bill Belichick will take his usual approach to the first round. New England will have a small list, maybe even one or two prospects, who they wouldn’t pass on at 21. If those can’t-miss players are off the board, they’ll trade down and accumulate picks in a deep draft. A trade down is the most likely outcome, with the Lions making an aggressive move to add a higher first-round selection since they also have the 34th overall pick and two third-round selections. The Pats could also pull off another trade with Houston here.
First Round (32): CB Kyler Gordon, Washington
Internally, the Patriots are well aware that their cornerback room underwent a significant talent exodus over the last calendar year. After J.C. Jackson and Stephon Gilmore’s departures, New England must address the secondary in the top 100.
Projects as an outside CB w/versatility to play multiple spots in the secondary. Fits the Pats’ mold. pic.twitter.com/hRUjkpC9Qe
— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) February 21, 2022
Although he isn’t rated as highly as teammate Trent McDuffie, Gordon has a little more length and still possesses an elite athletic profile to play outside corner. He has the movement skills, coverage instincts, and physicality as a tackler that the Pats covet. Plus, he has experience in multiple coverages in Washington’s system that will help him transition into a game plan defense (cover-1, cover-3, quarters). Although Gordon needs to harness his playmaking energy and develop better technique playing the football from press-man, he projects as a starting outside corner at the next level.
Second Round (54): LB Quay Walker, Georgia
Let’s play a game of [insert linebacker name here] with the Patriots’ second-round pick. In such a deep linebacker class, the Pats have to like their odds of improving their team speed and athleticism at the second level with this group. It could be Walker, Muma, Andersen, or Chenal. We’ll take an educated guess that their preference is Walker.
Another rangy day two linebacker target for the #Patriots: UGA LB Quay Walker. At 6-3/240, Walker had a great blend of size and athleticism.
Sideline-to-sideline range, lateral agility, loose/fluid in space to cover TEs up the seam or play over the slot. Great athlete w/size. pic.twitter.com/19CWpUqtUv
— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) February 4, 2022
Speaking about drafting Richard Seymour back in 2001, Belichick spoke glowingly about the 1999-2000 Georgia defense. The Pats’ head coach would’ve been happy landing any of the players from that Bulldogs defense, and my guess is he’ll feel the same about the reigning national champs. Along with the appeal of drafting from a dominant unit, Belichick and Matt Patricia also have ties to Georgia head coach Kirby Smart. Walker blends above-average size (6-4, 241) and an elite athletic profile (9.63 RAS, 4.52s 40-yard dash) to give the Patriots a new-age linebacker who is still very physical. He can meet running backs in the hole and is a physical downhill player who also plays on the line but has high-end traits in coverage. His game is reminiscent of former Pats linebacker Jamie Collins in many ways. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where New England doesn’t land a single defensive player from Athens.
Third Round (66): WR John Metchie, Alabama
There are a few commonalities with the Patriots’ well-documented struggles drafting wide receivers. First, the Pats have gravitated towards bigger wideouts with enticing size-speed profiles on the outside. Second, those receivers are often raw route-runners whose skills don’t translate well into New England’s offense. And third, many flops have struggled to grasp the playbook. It’s time for the Pats to go in a different direction with their wide receiver evals.
Sorting through some old draft stuff and stumbled upon a Mac Jones to John Metchie reel. Plenty of chemistry between these two in Mac's last season at Alabama.
— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) January 20, 2022
As a former teammate of Mac Jones’s, Metchie is a great example of how you don’t need to overcomplicate things in the draft. He was a star with Jones at quarterback in 2020 (916 yards, six touchdowns). Metchie also excelled in Bill O’Brien’s offense with the Crimson Tide last season, which combined elements of New England’s playbook and Alabama’s offense under Steve Sarkisian. Based on what we’ve heard, that’s the goal in Foxboro moving forward as well. Lastly, Metchie possesses separation quickness as a high IQ route-runner who displays toughness at the catch point to make plays down the field and in traffic. He can move all around the formation, gets open in the early stages of his routes, and produces after the catch. According to a source close to Metchie’s recovery, the Alabama wideout will be a factor as a rookie after tearing his ACL in the SEC title game. If it is an issue, the Pats have four capable wideouts on the roster and don’t need to rush him back. Again, let’s not overcomplicate things here.
Third Round (85): T/G Luke Goedeke, Central Michigan
Although it’s hard to envision the Patriots waiting this long to draft an offensive lineman, I don’t love their options earlier in the draft. Northern Iowa’s Trevor Penning is a year away. He’s a penalty machine, and his technique needs work. He has raw power and athletic tools, but he’s not a finished product. Central Michigan’s Bernhard Raimann has only made 18 career starts and will be a 25-year-old rookie. From this vantage point, the offensive tackle class takes a steep dive after the consensus top three, who will all be gone before the 21st pick (Ekwonu, Neal, Cross).
(#67 at right tackle above)
Instead, the Pats snag Raimann’s teammate instead, Goedeke, who was the right tackle for the Chippewas last season. Goedeke started 25 games after converting from tight end and plays with excellent instincts, body control and balance, and a sturdy anchor. Due to limited range in pass protection, most project Goedeke to move inside to guard, where he has day-one starter potential. If selected, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Goedeke was New England’s starting left guard in Week 1.
Fourth Round (127): OT Kellen Diesch, Arizona State
Since the Patriots waited till the middle rounds to address the offensive line, it makes sense for them to double-dip with a pro-ready guard and a developmental tackle with the athletic traits to play on the left side.
(left tackle in all clips above)
The Patriots might’ve found another feeder school with the Sun Devils, which brings us to their highly-athletic left tackle (9.73 RAS), who is in a similar mold as Nate Solder. The one knock on Diesch is that he’s an older prospect, which means his frame could be maxed out, and he doesn’t play with people-moving power. However, he has good foot speed and body control to mirror pass-rushers, moves well in space in the running game and on screens, and has the technique down to help move defenders on double-teams. Again, Diesch isn’t a people-mover and is close to a finished product physically due to his advanced age, but he has the tools to start at left tackle in the league.
Fifth Round (158): RB Tyler Badie, Missouri
New England needs to keep the cupboard stocked at running back with Damien Harris in a contract year and the clock ticking on James White. Based on what he told us when he re-signed with the Pats this offseason, White’s road back from hip surgery is far from complete, leaving the Patriots with a huge potential void in the receiving back role now and in the future.
Typically, the Patriots gravitate towards highly-productive players at power five schools, and Badie fits the bill. As Missouri’s lead back last season, Badie put up over 1,900 yards and 18 total touchdowns. Although he’s on the smaller side, that works in his favor as he runs with a low center of gravity and the balance to elude tacklers. He lost just two fumbles on 513 career carries and had 54 catches in 2022. Badie looks comfortable as a receiver, with good hands, quickness at the top of routes, elusiveness after the catch, and 4.45-speed to break away from the defense. Baddie is a do-it-all back.
Sixth Round (183): P Matt Araiza, San Diego State
With current punter Jake Bailey earning first-team All-Pro honors two seasons ago, moving on from Bailey now seems silly. However, due to a rule in the CBA, Bailey’s Pro Bowl nod in the 2020 season earned him a pay raise that will make him the highest-paid punter in the NFL this season. Under the proven performance escalator, Bailey will now make $3.986 million this season, or the equivalent of a 2022 second-round tender. For those reasons and a bit of a down year last year for Bailey, it’s not completely crazy.
After adding two day-three picks in a trade with the Texans, Bill Belichick could be targeting a special teamer or two in the later rounds. Here, the Pats select the ‘Punt God” from San Diego State, who is widely regarded as the best punter prospect in the NFL Draft history. Araiza averaged 51.2 yards per punt and had multiple punts travel over 80 yards last season. He is a generational punting prospect who restarts the rookie contract at the position, meaning he is significantly cheaper than Bailey.
Sixth Round (200): EDGE Christopher Allen, Alabama
After trading Chase Winovich and releasing veteran linebacker Kyle Van Noy, the Patriots will need to replace significant snaps on the edge of their defense opposite Matthew Judon. In-house candidates to take on larger roles include 2021 third-rounder Ronnie Perkins and 2020 second-rounder Josh Uche, but New England will likely add another body there.
I believe 2021 would’ve been a big year for Christopher Allen. He suffered a season-ending injury on this play.
♦️inside hand stabs the OT
♦️Chops down the outside hand
♦️Good bend & closing burst
Allen is an intriguing edge rusher for 3-4 defenses. pic.twitter.com/PvsECicjk9
— Damian Parson (@DP_NFL) January 15, 2022
Allen’s career at Alabama was filled with injuries, starting with a preseason knee injury that knocked him out of the 2018 season and a broken foot that ended his 2021 campaign in the season-opener. However, the Crimson Tide product put together complete seasons between injuries and was an effective edge-setter with enough initial quickness to run the arc. Allen uses good bend, leverage, and length to set a sturdy edge and power through the pocket to stay level with the quarterback. Although there’s injury risk here, Allen checks is an ideal fit who could end up being the steal of the draft if he can stay healthy. He’s healthy now, testing well at the combine with a 9.05 relative athletic score (out of ten).
Sixth Round (210): QB Kaleb Eleby, Western Michigan
With Brian Hoyer in a de facto QB coach role and Jarrett Stidham’s rookie contract expiring at the end of the year, the Patriots were scouting backup quarterback options throughout the pre-draft process.
New England could target a player who has a similar skill set as Mac Jones or a more athletic option to serve as a scout team quarterback. Here, we go with the prospect who my Patriots Beat co-host Alex Barth calls the MAC Mac Jones. Eleby doesn’t have ideal size or arm talent, but he makes good decisions while throwing the ball accurately and on time. His game reminds me of Titans backup QB Logan Woodside. If the Pats want to go with a more athletic option in a potential position switch or mimic running QBs on the scout team, Brown’s E.J. Perry or Miami’s D’Eriq King make sense in that mold.
Seventh Round (245): NT D.J. Davidson, Arizona State
In a rare occurrence nowadays, the 2022 draft is loaded with two-gapping nose tackles. Georgia’s Jordan Davis is the prize, UConn’s Travis Jones is the runner-up trophy, and several day-three block-eaters fit the mold.
Here is @ASUFootball DL DJ Davidson (@TheFaceOfAZ) working from a 2i alignment. He quickly avoids the down block, contacts the puller and makes a huge stop in the backfield. Impressive stuff. pic.twitter.com/teCxazZ7Uk
— Ryan Roberts (@RiseNDraft) September 26, 2021
New England goes back to Tempe here. Davidson is a blocking-scheme disruptor who will make it challenging for interior offensive lines to generate movement. He has good hand power and knock-back strength, can move laterally to avoid reach blocks, and anchors against double-teams. Although Davidson is an early-down player only, he’ll do his job on the nose.