The New England Patriots enter the 2022 NFL Draft with glaring needs at three positions: cornerback, linebacker and wide receiver.
We suppose edge rusher could be lumped in there, given Matt Judon struggled to overcome double teams and chip blocks down the stretch of last season, but it’s not crippling enough to leapfrog the other three position groups.
With three picks inside the top 85, the Patriots would be hard-pressed to not come away with three starting-quality players over the first three rounds. And with two fifth-rounders courtesy of the Bucs and Dolphins, New England could look to pair those picks with their fourth-rounder to net another third.
We all know Bill Belichick loves trading up in the draft, so we wouldn’t rule anything out. The important thing is the Pats have flexibility.
With so many options, let’s table the trade talk and brainstorm the best-case scenario for New England in the upcoming draft.
What’s the best-case scenario for the Patriots in the 2022 NFL Draft?
In a perfect world, Washington cornerback Trent McDuffie falls to the Patriots at No. 21 overall. That might seem like a long shot given the Ravens and Eagles, who own the No. 14, No. 16 and No. 18 picks, respectively, have a big need at CB.
Should they bypass the talented corner to address another position of need — like defensive tackle, receiver or linebacker — though, McDuffie could fall into New England’s lap. That would be a problem for the rest of the league, as McDuffie was seemingly built in a lab to play in Bill Belichick’s secondary.
McDuffie doesn’t have the physical traits of Cincinnati’s Sauce Gardner or LSU’s Derek Stingley, the consensus top CBs in this year’s draft, but the former Husky has experience in both zone and man coverage, can line up in the slot or along the boundary and packs a punch in the open field against the run.
In McDuffie, the Patriots would have a player to match up against star AFC East receivers Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle and Stefon Diggs.
Better still about the Washington product? The Patriots would be getting a high IQ player who understands the ins and outs of the game. Here’s what the MMBQ’s Albert Breer said about McDuffie in a recent interview.
It’s your choice whether to trust Breer’s insight, but his analysis aligns with what other analysts/draft experts have said about McDuffie.
If the Patriots can snag the Washington corner at pick No. 21, then draft the best receiver or linebacker available in the second round — maybe Alabama LB Christian Harris or Cincinnati WR Alec Pierce — that’d be a fantastic start.