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Patriots News 04-10, Draft Possibilities Galore, Spotlight on Mac Jones

Steve Balestrieri
Steve Balestrieri on Twitter
1 month ago at 5:00 am ET
Posted Under: 2022 NFL Offseason

Patriots News 04-10, Draft Possibilities Galore, Spotlight on Mac JonesRhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, here are your weekly Patriots news 04-10 and some NFL notes.

Was shocked to hear about the passing of Steelers QB Dwayne Haskins, 24, who was killed in a traffic accident while in South Florida conducting offseason workouts. Haskins was a former Ohio State and Washington Commanders’ QB who set several records with the Buckeyes. 

Apparently, Haskins was walking on Interstate 595 in the early morning hours and attempted to cross the highway and hit by a dump truck.  There has been a rash of pedestrians hit and killed in South Florida recently, however, this apparently doesn’t fall into the same category. 

He struggled with Washington and was released but found a home with the Steelers and was expected to compete for a roster spot this summer with Mitch Tribuski and Mason Rudolph. 

“I am devastated and at a loss for words with the unfortunate passing of Dwayne Haskins,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said in a statement. “He quickly became part of our Steelers family upon his arrival in Pittsburgh and was one of our hardest workers, both on the field and in our community. Dwayne was a great teammate, but even more so a tremendous friend to so many. I am truly heartbroken.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Kalabrya, and his entire family during this difficult time.” 

Year Two For Mac Jones Will Bear Watching From Day 1:

Mac Jones shared his workout with Patriots receivers DeVante Parker, Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, and Jakobi Meyers, as well as running back J.J. Taylor in South Florida on his Instagram this week. 

Year 2 is a big one for Jones, and he’s off to a good start. Not only is he expected to increase his level of play in 2022, but he’s also expected to take on increased leadership, as franchise QBs are accustomed to doing. This week, getting some of the receivers down in Florida to work out together prior to the start of the Patriots OTAs which begin soon is a way to accomplish both of those things. 

Bill Belichick spoke about Jones taking more of a leadership role during the owners’ meetings last week. (More below)

Mike Reiss wrote about Jones earlier this week and how he has a supporter in Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who sounded optimistic that 2022 will be a good one for Jones. 

“These young quarterbacks, the good ones, in the second year have usually grown a great deal. I’m a big fan of Mac Jones. You see how hard he works. He wants everything to go right. He puts in the time and energy, and his personality as a team guy,” Kraft said.

“He’s such a good person, and humble. I come in there sometimes on the weekend, or early, and he’s there working out, watching film, just doing things that I wouldn’t believe someone of his background would have that kind of commitment given his past. The guys in the locker room really like him. I’m very high on him and I think the staff did a great job drafting him. We’re lucky to have him for our future.”

It should be noted that a year ago, Jones was still waiting to find out which team was going to draft him. And in training camp, although he got time with the starting unit, the majority of the reps went to Cam Newton. 

This year, all of those reps will be his for the taking. With a year of experience in the system under his belt, as well as with the receivers they signed a year ago, they all should experience a jump in production. 

Earlier this week, I was on a podcast with Phil A. Perry from NBC Sports Boston and he said that the addition of Parker for Jones, should immediately pay dividends. No one feared the Patriots to throw deep in 2021, and as a result, NE running backs faced more 8-man boxes than any other team. And many of those safeties blitzed Jones. If Parker can stay healthy, those boxes should be a thing of the past. 

A lot of eyes will be watching Jones from Day 1 of OTAs this year. He had a solid rookie season throwing for 3800 yards with 22 TDs, and 13 INTs. That wasn’t a bad start, but some were portraying those numbers as being his ceiling, which is ridiculous. 

He’ll be responsible for bringing out the best in his receivers, and if they fail, he’ll share the shoulder of the blame. It comes with the territory. But he and his teammates are already building their rapport and chemistry.  Strength and conditioning workouts for the team begin on April 18. 

Quick Hitters For the Patriots, and the NFL: 

Brian Flores:  The former Dolphins head coach had two other coaches (Steve Wilks, and Ray Horton) join his lawsuit against the NFL. 

Mike Mularkey, the former coach of the Titans gave Flores some ammunition for his lawsuit when he said in a 2020 podcast that the Titans told him he was hired before they’d completed the interview process, including interviewing two minority candidates.

Stefon Diggs: The Bills wide receiver, who was traded to the Bills two years ago, has signed the latest mega-deal for wide receivers, who are now getting paid like franchise QBs. Diggs signed a four-year extension worth $104 million, with $70 million guaranteed. He is signed with the team until 2027. 

“There was so much work put in to get to this point but I am beyond happy to know that I will be playing the rest of my career with BILLS MAFIA. Words cannot describe how I’m feeling right now,” Diggs posted on his Instagram account.

Sleeper in the Draft: I spoke on our 4th & 2 podcast about a small-school stud who would be an intriguing pick. Joshua Williams from tiny Fayetteville State (NC) is a 6’3, 193 corner who could move to safety in the pros. 

Williams is a converted wide receiver who ran a 10.68 in the 100-meter dash. He’s got the combination of size, speed, and athleticism and could be a late-round diamond in the rough.  More of him below

Patriots 4th & 2 Podcast: If you haven’t checked out our PatsFans.com podcast, “Patriots 4th & 2” in a bit, please check it out. Derek Havens and I posted a video of some front seven and secondary prospects on two separate podcasts this week. 

Russ Francis/Chuck Fairbanks: The former Patriot tight end and head coach both should be in the Patriots team Hall of Fame…this will be on our Sunday posts until it happens.

Patriots Mock Draft 3.0

I posted this one a few days ago but will re-share it here again as Derek and I discussed it on the podcast, and here are a few more notes on the prospects. 

In this particular mock draft, we went with how we feel Bill Belichick will try to play the board, with a plethora of talent available in Rounds 2-4, the feeling is Belichick will try to slide back and get more picks in the middle rounds. 

So that is how we decided to proceed, as you’ll see in how the draft played out on this particular draft board, and they all differ to a degree. But one interesting fact was that we drafted four members of the Georgia Bulldogs and seven players from the SEC.

In this particular mock draft, we went with how we feel Bill Belichick will try to play the board, with a plethora of talent available in Rounds 2-4, the feeling is Belichick will try to slide back and get more picks in the middle rounds. 

The Patriots traded pick #21 to Tennessee for pick #26 and a 3rd round pick in 2023. They then traded #26 to Kansas City for picks #29 and #121. Later the team traded pick #127 to Buffalo for picks #130 and #231. 

So, here is our Mock Draft 3.0 

1st Round, #29 Overall —  Devonte Wyatt, DT, Georgia: 

Wyatt is considered a late 1st, early 2nd round pick and that was a good place to select him. We spoke about him on our last podcast, Wyatt is a very good athlete for an interior defensive lineman and is explosive at the snap. He moves laterally very well for a big man (6’3, 304), and can threaten the edge with a nice ability to bend or penetrate up the A gap and be a disruptor inside.

He’s a good run defender facing a single blocker but can be moved by double teams. He’s an intriguing player that has his best football still ahead of him.  Wyatt has the size, pass rush moves, and athleticism to develop into a consistent interior rusher in the NFL. He plays with a non-stop motor and will chase down players all over the field.

2nd Round, #54 Overall  — John Metchie III, WR, Alabama: 

Metchie is my personal draft binky here, as his value would be more geared to 2023 than this year, as he tore his ACL in the SEC Championship Game in December. Metchie had a very productive year with Mac Jones in 2020, catching 55 passes for 916 yards and 6 TDs. 

Metchie would be that slot/”Z” WR who would open up all kinds of room in the passing game. He has outstanding separation skills on both vertical and horizontal routes, making defenders defend every blade of grass. With the trade for DeVante Parker, while getting a WR that can grow with Mac Jones is a need, it isn’t a glaring one right now and Metchie will have time to get fully healthy. 

Derek Havens and I recorded a video podcast and here is a clip where we discussed Metchie and his fit with the Patriots. 

3rd Round, #85 Overall — Kingsley Enagbare, Edge, South Carolina: 

The Patriots still need some help on the edge. Other than Matt Judon, the team still doesn’t know what they have in Josh Uche and Ronnie Perkins. Enagbare is a hybrid pass rusher who can line up as a Defensive End or OLB. 

He has good size at 6’4, 258, and an array of pass moves. He was 1st team all-SEC conference in 2020 with 30 tackles, 7  TFL, and six sacks, with three FFs.  He uses his length with speed to power and takes good angles to the QB. 

4th Round, #121 Overall, —  Demarri Mathis, CB, Pittsburgh: 

Mathis is a quick-twitch corner who missed all of 2020 with a shoulder injury but returned in 2021 and had a career-high 43 tackles, and 2 INTs. He’s 5’11, 189 with loose hips, and excels at press corner with the ability to mirror receivers down the field. 

He’s a very good and willing tackler and excels in the running game. Mathis has shown he can play press corner and was good in zone coverage where he used leverage to squeeze routes.

He’s a very good special teams player with experience covering punts and kickoffs and can play on the boundary or in the slot.   

4th Round, #130 Overall, —  James Cook, RB, Georgia

Yes, another Bulldog in Round 4. Cook could be the heir apparent to James White as the Patriots’ 3rd-down back. The intriguing thing about Cook is that in four years at Georgia, he had only six starts, but he averaged 6.5 yards per carry and great soft hands out of the backfield with 67 career receptions, he’s made for that 3rd-down role. He has very little wear on his treads. 

At 5’11, 190, his best ability is to track and catch the ball out of the backfield, with quick feet, the ability to separate. He shows a good ability to hit the hole quickly and has great ball security (one fumble). He could be the next in the Patriots’ red-shirt RBs to earn a role as the 3rd-down back and has no issue with being part of a running back by committee. 

5th Round, #158 Overall,—  Jamaree Salyer, G, Georgia:

Three Bulldogs…do we see a trend here? Salyer started for the past two years at tackle but due to limited mobility, he will probably move inside to guard at the NFL. But the ability to slide outside in a pinch will make him a valuable, versatile commodity. And Belichick loves players who can do more than one thing. 

Possesses ideal size and length (6’3, 332), has the ability to be a road grader in the running game, and in short-yardage will move the pile back. Once he sets his anchor in the passing game, he will be tough to be pushed back. Hand usage is inconsistent but does pack a powerful punch. 

5th Round, #170 Overall, — Joshua Williams, DB, Fayetteville State

One of the more intriguing players in the draft. Williams played at tiny Fayetteville State University, so the huge jump in the level of competition may be a factor early, but the Patriots did the same thing with Kyle Dugger a few years ago. 

Williams has ideal size at 6’3, 193, and ran a blistering 10.68 in the 100-meters in track. He is a true sleeper in the draft and could be a diamond in the rough. He has the size, speed, and athleticism to make the jump to the NFL and he could be looking at a switch to safety or a hybrid role in his future. He’s a great prospect to take a chance on at this point in the draft. 

6th Round, #200 Overall, — Josh Paschal, Edge, Kentucky :

Paschal is a 6’3, 280 defensive end who has strong, powerful hands which he uses effectively to set the edge in the running game and to get to the edge as a pass rusher. His technique improved in 2021 as a pass rusher. 

He doesn’t have that natural twitch to be an explosive first step kind of player but possesses very good power to go against NFL interior OL. He’s a bit of a tweener but should be a nice developmental prospect when the team uses even man fronts. 

6th Round, #210 Overall, —  Justin Shaffer, G, Georgia:

Bulldog #4, Shaffer was a two-year starter (2020-2021), and was a second-team All-SEC selection last year. He’s a brawler and a road grader in the running game and with the size (6’4, 315) to hold his own against big interior players. 

He looks for contact and loves to impose his will. While he’s not as nimble as other players, he has good awareness to handle stunts in the passing game. He had a 4th-5th round grade by many analysts, so taking a flyer on him in Round 6 is well worth it. If he can improve his footwork quickness, he could be a nice late-round steal. 

7th Round, #231 Overall, —  Bo Melton, WR, Rutgers: 

Melton has been projected all over the place in terms of where he’ll be drafted, but has been widely pegged as a “Patriots-type of player” and has been a popular mock draft selection for New England. To be perfectly honest, I was resisting that temptation but when he was still there at #231 (which I tend to doubt), it was too good a chance to pass up. 

Melton is 5’11, 190, and ran an excellent 4.34 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine which should immediately have boosted his draft stock. His 3-Cone Drill time of 6.98 is excellent as well. A two-time team captain, the Rutgers coaches raved about his work ethic and leadership. 

Although he’s a bit undersized, he wins with quickness and agility, which immediately set tongues wagging about a WR the Patriots took in 2009 who was 5’11, 195, ran a 4.52 but had a tremendous 6.68 time in the 40…Julian Edelman. 

________________

“Just like some of the great players in the past, whether it be Tedy Bruschi or Logan Mankins, and go right down the line — Willie McGinest and Vince Wilfork. Jerod Mayo. Troy Brown. We all know it’s not going to last forever. Other leaders need to develop. These guys all stepped in for somebody before them. And somebody will step in for them in the future. It’s the NFL. …

“I think Mac will step into those roles eventually. Start with that.”

Bill Belichick, when asked about long-time captains Matthew Slater, James White, and Devin McCourty returning in 2022, nearly at the end of their careers.

_______________

“So, how was your week?”

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on Stitcher and Streamyard as Russ Goldman, Derek Havens, and myself from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news and game analysis.

 


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Posted Under: 2022 NFL Offseason
Tags: Bill Belichick Buffalo Bills Cam Newton Devin McCourty James White Mac Jones New England Patriots Patriots


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