The New England Patriots‘ trade for DeVante Parker netted them a solid receiver and a decent 2022 draft pick in what was a reasonable swap with the Miami Dolphins.
The deal has to be looked at as a pretty good one, and Parker may have sought it, according to NFL insider Ian Rapoport. The Pats gave up a 2023 third-round pick (they’ll likely get a compensatory third-rounder back for losing free agent JC Jackson) in return for Parker and a 2022 fifth-rounder. Parker upgrades the Patriots’ receiving corps, though he’s more of a 2A-type receiver (if healthy) rather than a No. 1.
So, in the aftermath of the Parker deal, what does their present draft pick situation look like and where should they be investing draft capital beginning on April 28? The team currently possesses eight selections in the follow rounds: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 5, 6, and 6.
They possess three premium picks and then six additional. It behooves the team to maximize their top picks and try to come away with starting-quality players as they did in 2021. Contrary to some opinions, this may take trading lower-round picks to move up for that third starter. Let’s explore the options post-Parker trade in a bit more detail.
The Patriots still need to draft a No. 1 receiver after acquiring DeVante Parker
A true No. 1 receiver still eludes New England, yet with the addition of Parker, some commentators feel that the position is set. Parker and Patriots quarterback Mac Jones seem to like the idea.
Let’s just say hold your horses. The position isn’t set, yet. If Parker is healthy, then they got better … but they didn’t totally solve their wide receiver shortcomings. Their priority to draft a No. 1 receiver in the first two rounds should remain.
Proponents of the current status quo argue that the receiver cupboard is full. It’s not, though. Nelson Agholor, who came aboard the last offseason in a splash, resulted in a mere trickle of production. No matter how it’s excused, his signing was a disaster. He should be traded, and if that’s not possible, a release should at least be considered regardless of the lost money.
Parker’s addition propitiously creates a golden opportunity for the Patriots to get value in the first or second round from a wide receiver who had injury issues in 2021. Two specific individuals who fall under that category are Alabama’s dynamic duo, Jameson Williams and John Metchie III. Another is George Pickens from Georgia, who was also hurt but returned to play late last season.
Williams is a likely first-rounder anyway, but Metchie and Pickens may not be. Yet, if they check out medically, either would be a nice haul in the second round when other teams who have more immediate receiver needs may pass. This is advantageous for the Patriots because of the Parker deal. They can now afford to wait a while for any of these top receiving prospects because Parker is on board. It’s a good place to be.
Patriots need to draft an offensive tackle in the first or second round
The need to draft an offensive tackle high in the draft remains as well. The suggestion that Isaiah Wynn is moved to guard and Trent Brown returns to left tackle makes perfect sense. Wynn could fill one of the spots vacated by Shaq Mason and Ted Karras with little drop-off. Yet, if so, the need to draft a plug-and-play right tackle becomes even more urgent. As was spoken in a classic movie, “so let it be written, so let it be done.”
The order in which the two positions should be drafted depends on how the board falls. The imperative is to tighten the offense by addressing those two positions first and foremost. After drafting an offensive tackle and No. 1 wide receiver, the team should then — and only then — turn to the defense. The defense is older, slower, and less productive than it needs to be at all three levels. The reconstruction can begin with the Patriots’ third pick.
The Patriots’ defense that was shredded by Buffalo twice in 2021 isn’t going to be fixed this offseason after the team essentially whiffed in free agency. Their third pick can begin the process, though. The thought here is to trade back up into the second round to snag a top linebacker. It will cost draft capital, but, as we saw with the trade-up for Christian Barmore in the last draft, it’s better to draft one top contributor than to throw multiple lower picks at less proven talent.
The two linebackers to target are Chad Muma from Wyoming and Leo Chenal from Wisconsin.
Both are tackling machines, with Muma more of a sideline-to-sideline guy and Chenal being more of an inside destroyer. After this potential trade-up, the remaining picks can be allocated to additional defensive players like cornerback, linebacker, defensive line, and one more offensive player — a tight end who can either block or catch.
Should the Patriots end the 2022 draft with wideout Jameson Williams, offensive tackle Daniel Faalele, and a linebacker (Muma or Chenal), no matter what else they do, would be a smashing success. If they emerge with OT Trevor Penning, John Metchie, and one of Muma or Chenal, we’d say the same.
Take your pick. Either would be a home run draft and another step in the post-Tom Brady rebuilding process. But if they go cornerback and linebacker in the first two rounds, then hold onto your hats, because it’s going to be a bumpy ride in 2022.