3 defensive talents Patriots can target with No. 21 pick in 2022 NFL Draft

MIAMI, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 30: Kaiir Elam #5 of the Florida Gators (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 30: Kaiir Elam #5 of the Florida Gators (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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DeMarvin Leal, New England Patriots
Texas A&M Aggies defensive lineman DeMarvin Leal (8) Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

The New England Patriots ended up with the No. 21 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, as their Mac Jones-led resurgence helped them make it to the postseason before they were promptly dispatched by the Bills. That loss exposed how this mighty defense may have more holes than previously believed.

With JC Jackson a free agent, the Patriots could replace him with a more cost-effective corner. A speedy linebacker would make a ton of sense for the Pats, as would a defensive tackle that can generate interior pressure. The team is in a solid spot to add a game-changer at this point in the draft.

The Patriots have shown a willingness to both lean on SEC talent and gamble on athletic traits over ready-made college production. The intersection of those two drafting guidelines could help New England find another player that raises the defensive ceiling.

Considering the traits that New England holds dear from a scouting point of view, one of these three players might need to start looking for houses in the Massachusetts area. With the right coaching, all three carry Pro Bowl potential.

3 defensive players the New England Patriots could take at No. 21.

873. Pick Analysis. DeMarvin Leal. player. 3. Scouting Report. DT. Texas A&M

While Georgia’s Jordan Davis is emerging as a first-round lock due to his size and run-stuffing ability, Leal might have the most immediate pass rush potential. Leal is exceptionally quick for his size, which could help him move all over the Belichick defensive line during his first season.

Leal’s power at the line of scrimmage and varied toolbox of pass rush moves makes him explosive enough to line up as an edge rusher. With that sort of burst next to Christian Barmore on the interior, New England wouldn’t have to worry about defensive tackles for years.

The Patriots could draft a star in DeMarvin Leal.

Leal might need to get bigger, as playing under 300 pounds on the line in the NFL is a very risky proposition. He has also been wiped out of too many plays at the line of scrimmage as a result.

Leal might not be as safe a pick as Davis given the issues with his style of play, but the Patriots should still feel more than comfortable with selecting him if he falls into their laps. With Leal, Barmore, Matt Judon, and Josh Uche all rushing on one play, stopping them all is a very tough task.