The 2022 NFL Draft is less than two weeks away, and the New England Patriots are in a precarious position. With needs at cornerback, linebacker and wide receiver, nobody knows what Bill Belichick’s plans are for pick No. 21 overall.
If you’ve been keeping up with the latest mocks, draft prognosticators have the Patriots taking Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd (ESPN), Washington cornerback Trent McDuffie (PFF), Boston College offensive lineman Zion Johnson (NFL Media) and Clemson cornerback Andrew Booth (CBS Sports).
We’d personally endorse any of those selections, save Lloyd. While considered the complete package at linebacker, the Utah product is already 24 years old, so it’s worth questioning if he’s a finished product entering the NFL.
In a perfect world, McDuffie would fall to the Patriots in the first round. However, that might be wishful thinking, as some analysts think he can go as high as No. 12 overall to Minnesota. Either way, he has top-20 potential.
Taking all of that into account, Michigan’s Daxton Hill could be a dark horse option for the Patriots in Round 1.
The Patriots should consider Michigan’s Daxton Hill at pick No. 21.
Here’s what Mel Kiper said of Hill to ESPN’s Mike Reiss.
"He (Hill) did everything (at Michigan) — he can be a slot corner, play center field, tackles so well, get after the quarterback, can intercept passes. He’s perfect for the way the game is played today.You could make the argument, if you just say ‘defensive backs overall,’ No. 1 is Sauce Gardner, No. 2 is either [safety] Kyle Hamilton or Derek Stingley Jr., and you could put Daxton Hill next along with Trent McDuffie. [Hill is] one of the best overall defensive backs in this draft."
That basically sums up Hill in a nutshell. While the former Wolverine could end up being a three-down safety as an NFL player, he has the versatility to cover the slot, stop the run as a nickel linebacker hybrid and rush the quarterback.
We all know Belichick covets versatility in his defenders, and Hill could be the long-term replacement for Devin McCourty, who’ll turn 35 in August. This past season, McCourty managed 745 snaps as a free safety, 191 as a box linebacker and 61 in the slot, according to Pro Football Focus.
Assuming Hill would start as a rookie, it wouldn’t be surprising if he logged over 200 snaps at each position. With Adrian Phillips and Kyle Dugger capable of filling a variety of roles, adding Hill would give the Patriots one of the most versatile defensive backfields in the NFL and the need for a lockdown CB wouldn’t be as pressing.
More high praise for Hill. Notice a trend?
In his latest mock for The Athletic, expert Dane Brugler had the Patriots taking Hill in the first round. We’re not sure how or why this partnership isn’t getting more buzz, but Hill feels like the next-best option for the Patriots if McDuffie is off the board and one of the top receivers doesn’t fall to them.
The MMQB’s Albert Breer pegged McDuffie as the “perfect Patriot.” That may be so, but Hill isn’t far behind in that regard.