3 players the Patriots should have drafted in 2021 instead of Mac Jones

While Mac Jones has turned out to be a mistake, lots of teams made mistakes in the 2021 NFL draft.
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No. 2 - Patriots should have gone with running back Najee Harris

The Bill Belichick way was not to take great offensive skill positions too high in the draft. I guess you did not want to run the risk of being too explosive offensively (unless Tom Brady was the quarterback and the team had a future Hall of Fame tight end as well).

It was better to fill in with journeymen, wide receivers, and running backs who could be used up. To be fair, Belichick took Sony Michel in the first round of the 2018 NFL draft, which did not work out as well as hoped.

But Michel was gone by 2021, and the Patriots needed a running back. Harris also would have been the perfect build for the Patriots as he is 6'1" and 240 pounds and surprisingly fast for his size. He is not exactly Derrick Henry, but he is not far off, either.

The Pittsburgh Steelers instead took Harris at pick 24, and he has never failed to rush for fewer than 1,034 yards in his three seasons. He has proven to be a decent receiver. Harris has 185 receptions in his career.

What makes matters worse in hindsight is that even though Jones was decent in his rookie year and made the Pro Bowl, he was not exactly perfect. Harris being in the backfield would have made nearly any other quarterback's job just as easy. And in 2023, when Jones fell apart, and Bailey Zappe proved himself to be an excellent long-term backup at best, Harris singularly would have made the offense better and could eat more clock, keeping the defense fresher. But in 2023, the Patriots need to draft a quarterback high as well as a running back.