The New England Patriots are in the hunt for a big-name defensive back, as losing JC Jackson to the young, upstart Chargers is so egregious that it requires a monumental addition to replace him. Adding a young star in the 2022 NFL Draft would make a ton of sense.
Using their first round pick on a Jackson replacement seems like the most prudent option. On top of the fact that they need to replace Jackson in the worst way possible, this draft is packed to the brim with quality man-cover corners that can earn a spot in a starting lineup right away.
If Bill Belichick wants to once again trade down in order to stockpile as many mid-round picks as possible, he could have his desires sated if he manages to somehow convince one of his most hated rivals to move up in the order. If this happens, an SEC standout could be on his way.
Henry McKenna of PatriotsWire predicted that the Patriots will trade down with the rival Buffalo Bills, acquiring the No. 25 and No. 57 picks in the process. In need of some help at cornerback, McKenna has them taking a physical specimen in Florida cornerback Kaiir Elam.
Will the New England Patriots draft Kaiir Elam?
With a sub-4.4 40-yard dash at 6-2, Elam is a tremendous athlete with the lateral agility and long speed to become a very dynamic cornerback in this league. With tremendous ball skills evidenced by his six interceptions in three seasons, Elam should cause turnovers as a pro.
If the Patriots are really betting on Malcolm Butler as a potential starter at cornerback, they’re only fooling themselves. Getting Elam and a second-round pick (a selection that turned into Alabama speedster John Metchie in McKenna’s mock), makes New England much deeper at two positions of need.
Elam is a poor tackler, as his stringy build did little to help him in that area. Elam’s lack of physicality makes him a complete negative in run defense. Will Belichick consider making a player that has these issues a cornerstone of his defense given how he typically wants tougher outside corners?
If Belichick can somehow convince a hated rival to hand over two premium picks and Elam falls to the Patriots at 25, his ball-hawking potential might be enough to convince Belichick to take a stab at him. If Elam gets a bit nastier as a tackler, he could end up making the Bills look foolish.