Patriots meeting with all the right WRs at 2022 NFL Combine
By Adam Weinrib
Whether you’re a believer in Bill Belichick’s NFL Draft tree of wide receivers or not, 2022 feels like the logical place to try again, especially considering Patriots QB Mac Jones could really use an offseason win.
Sure, he’s dealt with the sudden departure of important coordinators before; as his teammate Hale Hentges reminded us, it happened every summer at Alabama. But that won’t make Josh McDaniels’ departure to the Las Vegas Raiders any less of a disruption.
Even before McDaniels left, Jones’ weapons cupboard was lacking. Hunter Henry had become a reliable tight end/safety valve, but Jonnu Smith hadn’t quite created the deadly pairing Belichick envisioned. Jakobi Meyers and Kendrick Bourne emerged as wonderful twos and threes, but iron didn’t sharpen iron enough to create a WR1 out of thin air.
Therefore, the draft will loom especially large, considering the Patriots are nearly capped out. If Jones is going to get a gift, it will likely come from either a Calvin Ridley trade or the 2022 Draft — maybe even from his alma mater.
According to early 2022 NFL Combine intel, the Patriots are barking up all the right trees, scheduling meetings with three top names in the wide receiver market. All three meetings would indicate they’re at least entertaining spending first-round capital at the position.
Patriots Draft: New England meeting Chris Olave, Jameson Williams at 2022 NFL Combine
Chris Olave, Treylon Burks and Jameson Williams have all lurked a tier below Olave’s Ohio State teammate Garrett Wilson and USC’s Drake London in recent mock drafts (no doubt aided by Williams’ devastating injury in the National Championship Game). The Patriots should be in prime position at No. 21 to take the pick of the litter (or, at least, select between the two remaining options) based on all recent projections.
They should have a fairly clear idea as Draft Day approaches of their preference, too, considering they’ve lined up their combine meetings all in a row, so as to be able to directly compare the trio.
Early projections featured the Patriots considering a do-it-all linebacker like Nakobe Dean or Devin Lloyd while simultaneously hoping Williams’ drop could take him to the second round.
With that looking unlikelier by the day, the team seems to have pivoted to Burks (a physical mismatch, a la the N’Keal Harry dream), Olave (a speed demon), and Williams (a Crimson Tide security blanket).
Who knows? Perhaps Jones will even sit in on the conversation to make the process easier, though he could be shut out of Williams’ meeting to preserve objectivity.