Patriots 2022 NFL Draft: Offensive tackle and wide receiver in vogue

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - MARCH 04: Trevor Penning #OL38 of the Northern Iowa Panthers runs a drill during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 04, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - MARCH 04: Trevor Penning #OL38 of the Northern Iowa Panthers runs a drill during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 04, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) /

As the 2022 NFL Draft quickly approaches, the New England Patriots must make important choices, and choosing an offensive tackle and wide receiver are the likely choices that need to be made rather quickly.

Greg Bedard of Boston Sports Journal released his latest mock draft, and the top positions he listed for the Patriots to draft were at those two positions, and we couldn’t agree more.

It’s unclear exactly what Greg’s rationale was for these choices (one seems to be that Jordan Davis, the massive defensive tackle from Georgia, went right before the Patriots’ hypothetical pick) but perhaps it’s because he feels these are where the greatest needs lie.

What should the Patriots do with their first two picks in the 2022 NFL Draft?

When the team had a porous defense late in 2021, then lost key contributors on that side of the ball and needs an infusion of talent, then why would you add to the offense first? While this space can’t speak for Bedard (and wouldn’t be presumptuous enough to try to do so), there’s an answer that makes sense.

And it’s not rocket science since this space had trouble with basic physics never mind astrophysics. So let’s dive into the rationale even if it may not be Bedard’s. Starting with the overall situation of the Patriots, let’s just say they have numerous needs all over the field.

The needs are so multifarious, that any position they pick absent quarterback and running back in the first two rounds would likely be a position of need. Ouch! That’s not a good indicator of future success.

In any event, the rationale in this space has been concise and consistent. First, the Patriots’ defense won’t likely be shored up in one offseason after the debacle of late 2021. The losses of Kyle Van Noy and J.C. Jackson will not help at all either.

So, what to do? That’s exactly the question to ask. The answer is this: first complete the offense and make it a more proficient machine with premium picks in the draft. While this may seem counterintuitive, it’s actually quite reasonable, as evidently, the very well-respected Mr. Bedard feels.

The reason is, if you can’t possibly (or at least can’t likely) fix a defense full of holes in one offseason, then why not put the finishing touches on a promising offense that, with a few key additions, may be quite prolific?

The Patriots have their No. 1 asset: their quarterback. That would be Mac Jones. And they have a solid running attack. They need an addition or two along the offensive line depending on how stubborn they are in deploying their current resources to make them better.

Their major need is an offensive tackle to protect Jones. They have Trent Brown, whom they re-signed (one of their few positive moves in the offseason thus far). It’s not enough, though. To add a starting-caliber offensive tackle to bookend Brown is a necessary move. As Bedard suggests, Trevor Penning from Northern Iowa would be just fine.

Penning is exactly what the Patriots need — a mean, nasty, huge mauler, who takes no prisoners.

Bring him aboard and the offensive line issue is resolved. Yet, Bedard also thinks that adding a wide receiver is necessary. Maybe the Pats can even trading last year’s best receiver to amass more draft capital?

The astute trade for DeVante Parker affords that luxury, but the Patriots will then will need to draft a No. 1 wide receiver in the second round to fill that need. Someone like John Metchie of Alabama would do nicely despite his late-season injury (he played with Mac Jones at Alabama, another great possible fit).

So there it is. The rationale, counterintuitive though it may be, to draft to your strength rather than your weakness in the first two rounds to get even better at the most important facet of the game. Then, the Pats assign most of their remaining picks to the defense and hope the scouting on the players selected is sound.

In a few days, we’ll see what the personnel department, now headed by Matt Groh, will do. Hopefully, they’ll take Mr. Bedard’s advice to hand. He’s one of the best in the business. If not, let’s hope they make the right decisions anyway. If not, It could be a long, cold 2022 winter in Foxborough.