Here is my Mock Draft 6.0, the final all Patriots Mock Draft before the actual event starting Thursday night. I have been pouring over Mock Drafts, player evaluations, Combine, and Pro-Days. The Patriots Draft Board is set and I have narrowed the draft priorities down to these. I have six trades and select 11 players. Three trades were initiated by other teams and three trades were started by New England. I don’t believe there will be that much trading, especially in the 1st round. I think Bill Belichick will have a hard time finding trade partners.
CB, NT, LB, OG, OT, Edge, Slot Receiver, Special Teams, and Speed at all positions
My priority in the 1st round is a CB that can start within the 1st year and be a lockdown #1 corner for 5 years. There are three CBs that fit that description and are within the Patriots’ grasp at #21, Washington’s Trent McDuffie; Clemson’s Andrew Booth; Florida’s Kaiir Elam, and Michigan’s Dax Hill. For some unknown reason, McDuffie has been slipping into the pick 21 range. I expect him to be long gone by 21. Andrew Booth hasn’t been able to work out for anyone because of double sports hernia surgery. However, he is solid on tape. Bill Belichick does not like players from Clemson and I can’t remember if he has ever taken one. Elam is my target. Dax Hill is a fallback position. He has been listed as both CB and S. He has the skills to be a slot cover corner and could transition back to Free Safety when McCourty hangs them up.
TRADE – Patriots trade pick 1-21 to Dallas for picks 1-24 and 3-88
This is the first of 5 trades made in this draft. Because Booth, Elam, and Hill are all rated similarly on their Draft Board they will listen to offers. This is a computer-generated trade initiated by Dallas because where there was a player available that Dallas coveted.
TRADE – Patriots trade pick 1-24 to Tennessee for 1-26 and 3-90
Again all three are still on the board. Tennessee wanted a player at 24 with a computer-generated trade interest. The computer notifies me that 3 teams are interested in this pick and it’s up to me to structure a trade agreeable to both teams.
Round 1 Pick #26 – Kaiir Elam CB Florida – Booth was selected and I didn’t want to chance losing Elam. He is 6’1 ½ 191lbs and a battle-tested man coverage corner from the SEC. Elam ran an unofficial 4.47 which was lowered to an official 4.39 40 at the combine. He did not do any other tests but looked great in the field drills. At his Pro-Day, the 3-cone drill was 6.99, Short Shuttle was 4.21 and he Benched Press only 10 times. He was often left on an island by Florida covering the top opponents WR such as Jameson Williams and Trevon Burks. I think he is a plug-and-play player as a rookie. Dane Brugler of The Athletic had this to say in The Beast- 2022 Draft Guide – “Big athlete with an ideal build for the position … smooth strider and controlled in his turn and run to carry speed vertically … keeps his upper and lower bodies synchronized … has the playing strength to reroute receivers at the line of scrimmage … above-average ball skills and aggressively plays through the hands of receivers … much more comfortable when he keeps things in front of him as opposed to playing with his back to the ball … eager run defender and flies downhill to make open-field stops on screens … selected by the coaches to represent Florida at the SEC Leadership Council in 2021 (former head coach Dan Mullen: “He’s been a high-character, hard-working guy from the day he got here.”) … grew up with an NFL player for a father and will be prepared for professional life.” Pro Football Focus 2022 NFL Draft Guide said this about Elam. “Elam has played a role for Florida ever since his freshman year in 2019. However, it wasn’t until his sophomore year that he allowed the 42.6% completion percentage that put him on the map as a top prospect. Injuries limited his effectiveness this past fall, but it’s not like he was easy to throw on. He allowed only 18 catches from 35 targets for 185 yards all year, but a newfound penalty problem (seven flags in 10 games) kept his grade low.
I used both The Beast https://theathletic.com/3233612/2022/04/07/2022-nfl-draft-guide-the-beast-dane-brugler/ and Pro Football Focus 2022 NFL Draft Guide https://www.pff.com/draft/guide as supplemental data for each player. Both are paysites.
Round 2 Pick #54 – Troy Andersen LB Montana State – I have been pounding the table for this guy since January. He is an athletic freak with college production to back it up. This is what I had to say in my Mock Draft #3 “The sky is the limit with Andersen. He is a freakish athlete standing 6’3” ½. 243 lbs and he ran 4.42 40 tops amongst LBs. His 10’ 8’ Broad jump was tied for 5th. Andersen didn’t perform the weightlifting, 3-cone, short shuttle. The on-field drills confirmed what you saw in the testing numbers. 4.42 for an ILB is off the charts. That’s a sideline-to-sideline coverage of backs out of the backfield. He is also a downhill punishing run stopper.
Now hold your hat – these are Andersen’s career statistics: He has played LB for only 2 seasons. He was a QB in 2018 and an RB in 2017. He came to Montana St as an S/QB and was converted to RB.
2021 – 150 Total Tackles, 14 QB Hurries, 3 sacks, 65.2 QBR when targeted (42 targets), National FCS Defensive Player of the Year, 1st Team All-American LB (only FCS player), 1st team Big Sky Conference, 3rd-year Team Captain
2020 – Team Did Not Play- COVID 2nd year Team Captain
2019 – 54 Total Tackles in 11 games, 11.5 Tackles for Loss, 6.5 sacks, INT, PBU, 3-3 9yards 1 TD passing, 44-336 yards 6.9 avg 7 TDs rushing 1st-year Team Captain 3rd Team All American – All Purpose
2018 – 115-208 1195 yards passing 3 TDs, 7 INT, 206-1412 yards rushing 6.9 avg, 21 TDs, 3rd Team All-American QB
2017 – 90-515 5.7 avg 5 TDs
That’s 33 career TD rushing and 4 TDs passing
Can you imagine what Bill Belichick will do with this Swiss Army knife! “ Anderson ran a 3.99 Short Shuttle and 6.72 3-cone Drill at his Pro Day. I compare Anderson to former NFL player Luke Kuechly. Both were Safeties coming out of High School. The limitations of Anderson are his lack of playing time at the position and his lower level of competition. He is an athletic football player and the ceiling is so high on him I can’t pass on making him a Patriot.
TRADE New England trades 3rd round picks 88 and 90 to Jacksonville for 2nd rd pick #65 and 5th Rd pick 157.
TRADE New England trades 3rd round # 65 and 5th round #157 to NYG for 3rd Round #67 and 4th round #112. I took a chance that Marcus Jones would still be available at 67. By dropping down two positions I improved my draft position by 45 spots.
Round 3 Pick # 67 – Marcus Jones CB Houston – Jones is on the smaller side at 5’ 8”, 170 lbs, he has an estimated 4.36 40 according to NFL DraftScout. He didn’t run at the combine or his Pro Day because he is recovering from surgery on both shoulders. Pro Football Focus 2022 NFL Draft Guide said this about his play at cornerback: “He started in the slot as a true freshman for Troy in 2017 before kicking outside as a sophomore in 2018. Jones then transferred to Houston, where he’s been balling out on the outside with a 50% completion rate allowed in his coverage the last two years. Then, you have his return ability: In his four years returning kicks, Jones took back three punts and six kicks — including a game-winner against SMU last year — for scores.“ Obviously, his strength is in the Punt Return game. The Patriots need a Punt Returner since they lost Gunner Olzsewski.
The Beast- 2022 Draft Guide said this: “Plays with play speed and muscle twitch … seamlessly flips his hips to attach himself to receivers without sacrificing speed … flashes a burst when undercutting routes … has a wide receiver background with outstanding on-ball production, including 10 career interceptions … always ball searching and skillfully plays through the hands of receivers … leverages his side of the field as a run defender, not allowing runners to attack the perimeter … physical play style and competes like a much bigger player … ball carriers go backward when he strikes … elite return skills with nine career special teams touchdowns (six kickoff returns, three punt returns), which is tied for the NCAA record … averaging 28.8 yards per kickoff return (72/2,075/6) and 13.5 yards per punt return (65/875/3) during his career … had a 100-yard kickoff return touchdown with 17 seconds left to give Houston a win against SMU (October 2021), which was just the second go-ahead return touchdown in the final 30 seconds of an FBS game in the last 15 years … named the 2021 Paul Hornung Award winner as the most versatile player in college football.”
Round 3 Pick# 85 – Sam Williams Edge Mississippi – This is the 1st time I have selected Williams, and I don’t know why I didn’t before this. It’s like I discovered this player at the last minute. Pro Football Focus 2022 NFL Draft Guide had this to say about Williams “Williams spent two years at Northeast Mississippi Community College before three years at Ole Miss meaning he’ll be a 23-year old rookie. He’s improved considerably every single year as a pass-rusher culminating in a 2021 season where he registered 4+ pressures in 11 of his 13 games. Combine that with some serious physical tools and you have an intriguing edge project. One heck of a linear athlete with the speed to chase down ball carriers in the flat. A number of moves to win the edge already including a cheeky ghost move. The first step that opens up doors on tackles.” At the combine, the 6’4” 261 lbs Williams ran 4.46 40, 4.34 Short Shuttle, 7.06 3-cone, 36” Vertical 10’ 3” Broad Jump, and pumped 25 reps on the Bench Press. The Beast Draft Guide added this about Williams “Williams considered offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, LSU, Texas A&M, and others before committing to Ole Miss. He was suspended from the program in July 2020 after he was arrested on a felony charge of sexual battery. The chargers were later dropped, and Williams returned to the team in September 2020. He has a one-year-old son (Sam Jr.). Williams graduated with his degree in multidisciplinary studies (May 2021). He accepted his invitation to the 2022 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and was a late call-up to the 2022 Senior Bowl.” He had only one year of HS football and poor grades so he went the Junior College route, becoming a JUCO All-American. The Beast went on to say “ Well-built with adequate length and muscle tone … explosive out of his stance … hard-charger upfield with above-average rush acceleration to skim the corner … uses forward flexibility and raw power to create knock-back with his violent hands and stab moves … creates inside burst with his plant-and-go cuts … works well laterally and is able to bounce off blocks while maintaining his play radar … his revved-up motor expands his range to chase down plays outside the numbers … has some experience dropping into space … has a gritty play personality and doesn’t make things easy on blockers … had the productive senior year that NFL teams were hoping to see from him. “ Williams will be 23 at the time he gets drafted. Initially, he will be a pass-rushing specialist and Special Teams player as he learns the game at the NFL level.
Round 4 Pick #112 – Kevin Austin WR Notre Dame – The Patriots have a lot of big WRs that play the slot (Parker, Meyers) they need a pure X receiver with speed and Austin fits that bill. Austin stands 6’2 3/8’ 208 lbs, ran 4.41 40,(NFL Network had him at 4.37 unofficial) 4.21 Short Shuttle, 6.71 3-cone, 11’ Broad Jump, 37” Vertical Jump, and has 33” arm length. He was one of just three wide receivers to run the 3-cone drill under 7. The three-cone drill watermark for receivers is 7. Pro Football Focus 2022 NFL Draft Guide “Austin flat out couldn’t see the field his first three years on campus. Can be a bully at the catch point. The majority of contested catches came well downfield. Rocked up build. Barely an ounce of fat on him. Ascending in a big way. Made massive strides from the beginning to the end of 2021. Receptions/Targets 48/82 — Yards 888 18 — Yards per Catch 18.5 — Touchdowns 7. Of the 668 offensive plays, only 138 were in the slot. He had a tremendous amount of contested catches downfield. The Beast Draft Guide said this about Austin, “Muscular body type with size and definition … head-turning athletic testing numbers … has build-up momentum to power through routes … functional play strength to get off the press or win body position mid-route … able to stack and track in order to win on deep balls (three catches of 50-plus yards in 2021) … smooth body adjustments to reach back and pull in throws … impressive short-area burst to help create room to work at the top of routes … remarkable first-down rate in college … an above-average blocker with the skills to be even better … worked back from several roadblocks earlier in his career to have a productive 2021 season.” Austin received a suspension for a violation of team rules that would take him out for the entire 2019 campaign. In good standing academically, Austin remained enrolled at Notre Dame and came back in 2020 to rejoin the offense. In 2020 he injured his foot in the second game, came back a few weeks later and re-injured the foot again, and was lost for the year. Coming into 2021 Austin had just 6 catches. For the most part, he is a one-year wonder that showed very well at the Combine. Austin graduated this winter and passed on his final year of eligibility. Excellent blocker that reminds me of former Golden Domer David Givens.
Round 4 Pick #127 – Spencer Burford OT University of Texas-San Antonio – Burford is the cousin of former NFL players Sam Hurd and former Patriot LaAdrian Waddle. Dane Brugler loves Burford and has him ranked as the #12 OT. The Beast Draft Guide said this about Burford “Broad-shouldered frame with an outstanding wingspan … explodes out of his stance to mirror, square and engage different types of pass rushers … rarely beaten by edge speed to the corner … recovers well in space … physical hands and keeps them tight to frame rushers with his punch … mobile in the run game with his ability to reach, pull and climb … able to create knock-back when he rolls his hips into contact … plays with a fierce demeanor and keeps busy … has the body type to get stronger and add mass … trusts his coaching and was awarded a single-digit jersey (though he couldn’t wear it as an offensive lineman) … started 20-plus games at both left tackles and left guard in college with a few starts at right tackle. Raw in the run game.” He stands 6’4” 304 lbs, a little short for OT. At the combine he ran 5.19 and Bench Pressed 25 times. Burford has long arms, nearly 35” and an 82” wingspan. Needs functional strength. Dante Scarnecchia was asked what his keys to a good offensive lineman draft choice were. He stated that the lineman had to be tough, had to be smart, and athletic enough to mirror the defensive lineman.
Round 5 Pick # 158 – Thomas Booker DT Stanford – Another player that I added at the last minute. I had read good things about Booker from the East / West Shrine Bowl The Beast Draft Guide said this about Booker “Looks the part with his dense, athletic frame and packed on muscle, especially in his legs and bubble … athletic, a loose mover with the initial quickness to penetrate gaps … flashes an explosive, upward punch to jolt blockers off balance and reset the line of scrimmage … his hands are active and persistent off the ball … flashes a closing burst down the line in the run game … three blocked extra-point attempts in his career … two-time team captain and NFL coaches will appreciate his sharp attitude … highly accomplished in the classroom as a double major (economics and communications) with a 3.88 GPA, twice earning CoSIDA Academic All-American honors.” Bill Belichick likes those smart players. Pro Football Focus 2022 NFL Draft Guide states “A former top recruit, Booker has seen significant time ever since his true freshman year in 2018 and been a starter ever since 2019. Unfortunately, he never quite lived up to that lofty recruiting status as Booker’s best year came as a sophomore. That year he posted his career-high for sacks (6) and stops (32) despite playing 262 snaps fewer than this past fall. He’s got athletic tools to work with and versatility that will be coveted. A nightmare to handle on slants. First step quicks are tremendous for a 300+ pounder. Thick lower half that stands out immediately on the Stanford defensive line. The versatile body type that can and has filled every alignment on the interior.” Booker stands 6’ 3” 302lbs, ran a 4.94 40 at the combine. At the East / West Shrine Bowl practices Booker stood out for his consistent pass rush. Booker was a Junior Captain for Stanford and a three-year starter.
Round 6 Pick #183 Matt Araiza P Arizona State – Left-footed punter and also a very good Kicker as well. Booming kickoffs are his specialty. Competition for Jake Bailey who had a sub-par year. Cutting or trading Bailey would save $4M off the salary cap. Araiza is 6’1” 200 lbs, he averaged 51.2 yards per punt for his career and broke the single-season record. In back-to-back weeks he had an 81-yard punt and an 86-yard punt. The record he broke, he had 51 more punts than the previous record holder. Araiza can also kick-off and kick FG and extra points. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler projects Araiza will be a 3ed of 4th round selection.
TRADE – New England trades N’Keal Harry to HOU for pick 6-211
Round 6 Pick #200 – Zach Thomas OT San Diego State – Thomas can play all 5 O-line positions, starting at RT and then moving to LT in 2021. The Beast Draft Guide said this about Thomas “Owns a broad waist, long arms and large hands … generates force in the run game with his hand timing and leg drive … his lock-on strength is persistent, keeping defenders from re-leveraging once he connects … comfortable as a climber and stays dialed in at the second level … uses short, controlled steps in pass protection with the body control to cut off pass rush angles … redirects well vs. inside moves … lower body bend to maintain low pad level at contact … peppers defenders with his reach to jolt at contact … versatile experience with double-digit starts at both tackle spots and functional time inside at guard.” He stands 6’ 47, 308 lbs, and ran a 4.96 40, which is why I project him as Guard. I think it will be a competition between Burford and Thomas for that starting LG position. At the very least, Thomas can be the backup for all O-line positions. Team captain and played 6 years (red shirt and medical re-shirt) will be age 24 when the season begins. Thomas has that tenacity and toughness Dante Scarnecchia was talking about.
Round 6 Pick# 210 – Marquan McCall NT Kentucky I wrote this about McCall in my Mock Draft #3. ‘McCall dropped considerable weight, down from 346 lbs in season. His official combine measurements are 6’2 ½” 324 lbs. McCall participated in the medical exams and interviews but did not perform any testing or fieldwork. He is recovering from a late-season ankle injury. McCall is a true Nose Tackle and I think we need someone to spell or eventually replace Godchaux. He played in the SEC so you know he went against the best week in and week out. He is raw and has a great initial step for a big man. Right now, he relies on a bull rush and will need to develop some secondary moves. He has big hands but doesn’t use them as he should.” The Beast Draft Guide stated, “Wide-framed nose tackle with heavy mass and giant hands … lost weight as a senior and was sub-350 pounds for the first time since high school … looked quicker and more efficient with his initial steps on the 2021 tape … flashes an occasional burst to squeeze gaps … maintains his body position vs. double-team blocks and clogs up interior lanes … powerful upper half to shock and shed or control the point of attack … his nickname in the Kentucky program was “bully” for a reason … shows the ball awareness to find and track … his coaches say that no player in the program showed more improved maturity the last four years”. Pro Football Focus 2022 NFL Draft Guide wrote this about McCall “offensive line recruit before switching to the defensive side of the ball. As a sophomore in 2019, McCall showed promise with a 76.5 overall grade on 229 snaps. Unfortunately, he never built upon that as he couldn’t keep his weight in a position where he could stay on the field. Hopefully, that changes at the next level because there is enough physical ability there to make an impact. Plays with a feisty attitude. Tone setter. Can really get off the ball for a man his size. Can execute stunts/slants. Massive mitts that pack a punch when timed up well.” Right now he is a 1st and 2nd down player only.
Round 6 Pick#211 – Markquese Bell S Florida A&M One of three players from Historically Black Colleges and universities that is expected to be drafted this year. Pro Football Focus 2022 NFL Draft Guide Said this about Bell “Long-limbed athlete with galloping strides to eat up grass quickly … has a sideline-to-sideline range with the speed to make up a hesitant start … widens his feet as a tackler, drops his pads and keeps his hands extended at contact … has a knack for putting his hat on the ball mid-tackle to knock it loose (seven forced fumbles in two seasons) … uses his long arms to punch off blocks and work laterally near the line of scrimmage … has the physical traits to match up with tight ends in coverage … comfortable covering from depth and patrolling the deep third … able to show off his ball skills and catch radius when the pass goes in his direction … reignited his career at FAMU, and he earns rave reviews from his coaches.” The Beast Draft Guide said this “route to becoming a potential 2022 NFL Draft pick. He started out at Maryland in 2017 where he was suspended for undisclosed reasons prior to his first collegiate game. He then abruptly left the program before playing a snap and transferred to Coffeyville Community College in Kansas. After one year there, Bell transferred to Florida A&M where he’s been starting ever since. We only have one full season of Bell graded and his 2020 season was canceled due to COVID. A lanky frame that he already uses well to take on blockers. Kind of speed that can makeup up steps on vertical routes. Aggressive filling the run. Three forced fumbles in 2021.” Bell is 6’2” 212 lbs., 4.41 40, and 15 reps. I would expect that Bell would be a core special teams player immediately, learning the pro game and giving the team depth at S.
Round 7 Pick #245 – Isaih Pacheco RB Rutgers – This is a typical Rutgers connection. Pacheco ran a 4.37 40 at the combine. The Beast Draft Guide said this about Pacheco “Ripped physique, and clearly focuses on weight/strength training … excellent short-area agility to make lateral cuts away from congestion as he looks for greener pastures … transfers his run energy between cuts to brush off arm tackles … outstanding acceleration once he finds a speed track … physical finisher and fights through contact, especially in the open field with a head of steam … durable and dependable: logged 100-plus carries each season and fumbled only once the last three years … voted a team captain as a senior … was the featured kick returner as a freshman at Rutgers, averaging 19.3 yards per return (18/348/0) … didn’t give up many pressures in pass protection on tape.” His Pro Days numbers included 7.09 3-cone, 4.27 Short Shuttle, and an impressive 27 reps on the Bench Press. He didn’t have great production at Rutgers even though he led the team in rushing for three straight years. 2442 yards rushing, 18 Tds, and 47 catches for a career. Played in the NFL Collegiate Bowl and the East/West Shrine games.
There you have it! I stress speed and that is what this NE Team needs. I am thinking this is another bridge year and the development of young players will be paramount. The Special Teams need to be rebuilt starting with Punt Returner, Marcus Jones was the best in the country the last three years.
Patriots Hall of Fame Finalist – Congratulations to Mike Vrabel, Vince Wilfork, and Logan Mankins for being nominated finalists for the Patriots Hall of Fame. My money is on Vince Wilfork. A curious thing, both Chuck Fairbanks and Bill Parcells have made the Semi-finalists. I don’t think either should be considered for the Hall because of the way they left the team. One coach I think belongs there is Dante Scarnecchia. Scar was with the Patriots for 34 years and was one of the most respected O-line coaches in NFL history.
Look for my complete 1st Round projection on Thursday.
Posted Under: 2022 Patriots Draft
Tags: 2022 NFL Draft 2022 Patriots Mock Draft New England Patriots