Mel Kiper’s latest mock draft sees Bill Belichick plunder Alabama for weapon again
By Jerry Trotta
The 2021 regular season proved the New England Patriots‘ rebuild is ahead of schedule. However, their 30-point loss to Buffalo on Wild Card Weekend showed just how far this roster has to go to compete with the NFL’s elite.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Patriots need to add speed given how overmatched they were trying to contain Josh Allen when he took off and rain. The same can be said for the Bills’ receiving corps.
Speaking of receivers, the position HAS to be Bill Belichick’s top priority this offseason. As we saw against Buffalo, the unit struggled in man coverage, which resulted in Mac Jones being indecisive and taking way too many hits.
While free agency is a potential avenue for the Pats, ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. thinks Belichick could take to the 2022 pool for reinforcements.
In his latest mock for ESPN, Kiper has Belichick plundering Alabama yet again for touted wideout Jameson Williams.
Could Jameson Williams solve the Patriots’ WR concerns?
Unlike many great Alabama receivers before him — like Jaylen Waddle, Devonta Smith, Calvin Ridley and Jerry Jeudy, to name a few — Williams actually transferred to Tuscaloosa before becoming a household name in the FBS.
Believe it or not, Williams was an afterthought at Ohio State before he entered the transfer portal and joined the Crimson Tide. With Smith and Waddle no longer in the fold, Williams emerged as the No. 2 option for Bryce Young in 2021.
For the season, Williams tallied 79 receptions for 1,572 yards, which ranked fifth in the country, and 15 touchdowns, which was tied for second among all receivers. His 19.9 yards per reception also ranked second among WRs who finished the year with 50 or more catches.
Williams’ big-play ability had him widely regarded as a surefire top-10 pick. Kiper even had him sixth overall on his big board. However, a torn ACL suffered in the National Championship Game against Georgia could see him slide to the tail end of the first round, which is where the Patriots come into play.
Slated with the No. 21 overall pick, Williams could fall right in New England’s lap if teams ahead of them are skeptical of drafting him post-injury. While Kendrick Bourne and Jakobi Meyers are keepers, Meyers is a restricted free agent, so you can’t guarantee that he’ll return to the team.
Throw in the fact that the Patriots can save nearly $5 million by cutting Nelson Agholor, who was wildly inconsistent in 2021, and you can easily envision a scenario that sees Belichick steal from his old pal Nick Saban.
Williams wouldn’t solve all of the team’s problems at WR — his injury could force him to miss some of his rookie season — but he’d offer speed and a home run threat that the offense has lacked for several years running.