Another year, another NFL draft in the books. The 2022 NFL Draft took place fittingly in Las Vegas, a place where dreams can be made or broken. The Patriots came in with a lot of intrigue, as this years draft seemed to lack the luster of years prior, likely to do with the lack of big name QBs. In total, the Patriots selected 11 players, which balanced pretty well between offensive and defensive players. No one was totally sure which direction Bill Belichick and company would be taking, but their first pick of the draft certainly left many with questions:
1st round 29th overall: OL Cole Strange
The move that everyone seemed to be talking about came quite as a surprise for New England. The buzz seemed to have nothing to do with the ability of the guard coming out of Chattanooga, but rather people felt he was a reach in the first round. Likely to be plugged in as a starter right away, Strange can be utilized very well as a starting Guard and appears to fit perfectly with New England's system. Strange proved that he is one of the most athletic guards in the draft, and is getting comparisons to former Patriot great Logan Mankins. The availability of other prime prospects especially in the defensive secondary made many feel this pick was a waste of 1st round potential, but like all of these picks, only time will tell.
2nd Round 50th Overall: WR Tyquan Thorton
The Patriots made a trade to move up a few spots to select the speedy WR from Baylor, so they definitely see a good future for Thorton in New England. What he lacks in the big physical build, he makes up in speed, with a 4.28 40 time, the fastest among all WRs. Thorton can be a very legit deep threat for Mac Jones, with his ability to spread out the defense and open up lanes in the short game as well. Look for Thorton also to be used heavily in medium crossing routes, which can open up all sorts of avenues for the offense.
3rd Round 85th Overall: CB Marcus Jones
Coming in at a big 5'8 the do it all CB from Houston will be the shortest player on the Patriots defense. Used heavily as a punt returner, he has returned a total 9 kicks for touchdowns in his time in college. Likely to be a slot corner, Jones provides good speed and there is nothing that Bill Belichick loves more than a guy who can play multiple positions (especially special teams) so keep an eye out for Jones to make some flashy plays in training camp this summer.
4th Round 121st Overall: CB Jack Jones
Another Jones added onto the squad, this time its yet another pick that many felt was a reach, but this might have more to do with some off the field issues. Jones has had some past issues with team and academic suspensions, but has clear and obvious talent in the secondary. He's been a very effective ball hawking corner and will likely lineup on the outside, where he can learn from the likes of Jalen Mills and Malcolm Butler.
4th Round 127th Overall: RB Pierre Strong
The Patriots certainly wanted to boost their speed this year, as Strong ran a 4.37 40 time in the combine. Strong totaled up nearly 1700 yards and 15 TDs last year at South Dakota State, averaging 7.2 yards a carry. It is unclear if Strong will take the typical red shirt season that Patriot RBs normally take, or if he'll be the eventual replacement for James White. Strong has also thrown for 6 TDs, so he'll fit right in with the history of Non-QBs who love to throw dimes for New England.
4th Round 137th Overall: QB Bailey Zappe
This one could come as a little bit of a surprise initially, because the Pats have second year QB Mac Jones. However when you really dive into it, the Pats have always drafted mid round QBs during Tom Brady's career, so it isn't super shocking. Zappe has been given the title of potentially being a phenomenal backup QB for many years, so having a good smart QB for Mac to compete with will never be a bad thing. This likely means the end of the line for Jarrett Stidham, as he never seemed to pan out, but with a 69.2% completion rating in college, Zappe should be a great backup for Mac in the foreseeable future.
6th Round 183rd Overall: RB Kevin Harris
A late round RB out of South Carolina seemed a little intriguing to me after picking one just 2 picks prior, but Harris really could be a potential steal if he pans out. Harris had a very strong year in 2020 with 113 yards per game and 15 TDs, but an offseason back surgery took him out last season. The Patriot RB room is loaded now, so look for this position to be one of the more hotly contested roster battles come training camp.
6th Round 200th Overall: DL Sam Roberts
The Patriots dove back into the D-II school after finding success with Kyle Dugger, and went with Roberts from Missouri. Over his 4 years at school, he had 47 TFL and 18.5 sacks. Being a Pats fan and calling out the Chiefs is also always a plus, seen here from an old tweet after the Patriots beat the Chiefs in the AFC Championship.
6th Round 210th Overall: OL Chasen Hines
The lineman from LSU has bounced around several positions on the interior line, but has battled through multiple injuries throughout his career. Hines will likely be a backup spot this year.
7th Round 245th Overall: OT Andrew Stueber
Capping off the 2022 Draft, the Pats closed out with yet again another Michigan Wolverine prospect. Hailed as one of the smartest tackles in the draft, the massive 6'7 325 pound tackle will play a solid backup role for either Trent Brown for Isaiah Wynn.
Well there you have it. The Patriots made some noise this year, as public opinion on their success really depends on who you ask. Either they reached on a lot of these guys, or grabbed perfect needs when they were available, we'll just have to wait and see. One thing to note, the Patriots have gotten significantly younger and faster over these past couple seasons, so they are certainly working on the fly to get back to where they once were on top of the AFC.