With the Patriots officially waiving cornerback Jack Jones on Monday, less than 24 hours after the team returned from their trip to Germany, it seems like the right time to formally call the 2022 draft class a bust for the Patriots. It will likely be remembered as one of the worst classes during the Bill Belichick era, and given how badly the team needed him to hit on nearly every player; it puts New England in an even more difficult position entering the offseason.
Typically, you should avoid coming to conclusions about a draft class for at least three years. But with the latest news about another player on the outs just a year after they were selected, concluding the group was a miss is fair game.
So, with all that said, how did we get to this point?
In the first round, the Patriots stunned fans, players, and analysts with their selection of Cole Strange. It wasn't shocking because the offensive line needed to be addressed; it was more questionable due to the more significant issue the offense was facing: the lack of a game-changing wide receiver.
Mac Jones has lacked a true WR1 to throw the ball to since he was drafted, yet Belichick bypassed all options for a tackle.
They could have selected Christian Watson but instead went for Strange, who did have a good start to his rookie season but since then has fallen off to the point where he is getting beat more often than not. The offensive line has been a disaster, and Strange has been part of the problem.
In the second round, the 50th overall selection, Tyquan Thornton, was selected. Since then, the receiver has proven unable to stay healthy. It was a concern as soon as Belichick decided to draft him and has since haunted them through this season. Once he does get healthy, he barely sees the field.
There were high expectations for Thornton to be a deep threat with his speed, but instead, it looks like his career with the Patriots will be quickly over, as he is just an afterthought at this rate.
Two picks later, the Pittsburgh Steelers took George Pickens, who's been improving every week. The Kansas City Chiefs took Skyy Moore who's seeing more playing time, and the Indianapolis Colts selected Alec Pierce who has been quiet, but still, with the Patriots selecting a receiver, they had better options than Tyquan Thornton.
Marcus Jones was selected in the third round, 85th overall. At this rate, Marcus Jones is the best player from this draft class. He had the game-winning punt return against the Jets and has two interceptions, one being a pick-six. Jones also has seven passes defended and 39 total tackles.
Unfortunately, his 2023 season ended abruptly when he was injured after the Week 2 matchup with the Miami Dolphins, suffering a torn labrum that landed him on injured reserve.
The Patriots took Jack Jones in the fourth round. This was a high-risk, high-reward pick. Jones had a promising start to his rookie season, including a pick-six of Aaron Rodgers at Lambeau Field. After that, he had an impressive showing against the Lions but slowly fizzled out.
He eventually landed on the injury reserve list with a knee injury. While nursing the knee injury, he allegedly missed rehab and was suspended by the team, and then ran into off-the-field problems during the offseason.
Eventually, he was unsurprisingly, but also unexpectedly released after allegedly missing curfew and having bad bench behavior against the Colts in Germany. This is a swing and a miss for Bill Belichick as Jones became too much of a problem to handle.
Also selected in the fourth round were Pierre Strong Jr and Bailey Zappe. Strong was traded to Cleveland this offseason as he was barely used in the backfield. As for Zappe, he came in while Mac Jones and Brian Hoyer were out with injuries. Zappe did not look like a rookie until the Monday night matchup with the Chicago Bears when the entire team played poorly.
In the two games he started, Zappe threw for 781 yards, five touchdowns, and three interceptions. During that time, the Patriots went 2-0. But, when Mac Jones was healthy enough to return Zappe returned to the bench.
This offseason, Zappe was cut but returned to the practice squad before being signed to the active roster. Seven picks later, the Washington Commanders took Sam Howell, who recently defeated the Patriots and has been great for Washington. Another pick where Belichick misses out on someone.
To close out the 2022 draft class, the Patriots took Kevin Harris, Sam Roberts, and Chasen Hines in the sixth round.
In the seventh round, they took Andrew Stueber. Stueber, Hines, and Harris are no longer on the team, and Roberts only has six total tackles in his career. Except for Marcus Jones and somewhat Bailey Zappe, this draft class is a complete disaster and another blemish on Bill Belichick's career as a general manager.
Maybe the Patriots should keep Belichick away from the draft from now until the end of his time in New England.