New England Patriots: Looking ahead to the 2022 NFL Draft

Evan Neal #73 of the Alabama Crimson Tide (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)
Evan Neal #73 of the Alabama Crimson Tide (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images) /

The New England Patriots will be drafting in 2022 and it’s early, way too early, to speculate about that, but, what the heck, let’s do so a bit anyway.

Currently, the Patriots will be slotted into a lower draft pick due to their 7-4 record. But that could change at any time. A few losses and up the board their pick goes.

Yet, should they continue on their upwards trajectory, as is expected here, their pick will get lower. So it’s good news and bad news draft-wise.

But, since the draft works on that principle, it is what it is, so we’ll have to wait until the end of the season to finally know where the Patriots will choose in 2022. Hopefully, it’s No. 32!

The New England Patriots greatest draft need in the 2022 draft

As a student of New England Patriots drafts for longer than will ever be admitted, this process will always have a fascination.

In fact, it is a significant determinant of how your favorite team will fare in the ensuing years as all NFL fans are aware. Draft well, you’ll probably be OK, assuming you have a top quarterback.

Draft poorly, and you can take a seat at the back of the NFL line and wait for next year’s draft where you will again have a higher pick than you wanted.

So at this point of the NFL season, let’s take a look at where the Patriots should be looking positionally next year and what position makes the most sense for them in the draft.

New England Patriots first need is a No. 1 wide receiver, but in free agency

This space has been quite emphatic in suggesting that the current New England Patriots team is OK at the wide receiver position but needs a true No. 1 receiver to boost its capabilities there.

Problem is, this team has been incapable of drafting wide receivers in early rounds. Therefore, the suggestion is, don’t. Go elsewhere where you have had success.

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It would be best to go big in free agency for a top wide receiver. There could be some terrific ones available. But they will be costly.

They include Davante Adams of the Green Bay Packers, Chris Godwin of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Allen Robinson of the Chicago Bears, Juju Smith-Schuster of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and several other top guys.

The draw for any and all is that the new version of the New England Patriots is a good team with a truly great young quarterback in Mac Jones. Come on up to New England!

The New England Patriots first draft pick should be an offensive tackle

The position that is most critical after wide receiver is offensive tackle. The Patriots’ situation there is unsettled. Their offensive left tackle, Isaiah Wynn, will be entering the last year of his rookie deal.

Wynn is a talented offensive lineman, but not an offensive tackle, at least not a left tackle. A solution three would be to re-sign Trent Brown (hopefully) and the left tackle issue is essentially solved.

Now the Patriots seem intent on using Michael Onwenu at left guard when he is perfectly capable of playing right tackle.

Ted Karras (also on a one-year deal) can easily play left guard as he has been recently in the Patriots winning streak. He also should be re-signed. He’s just too good to let go.

With all that in mind, the Patriots still need to select an offensive tackle in the first round in 2022. They need starting quality depth since the prime objective is to keep wunderkind young quarterback Mac Jones upright and injuries always happen.

So, who might be available? Well, the best alternative would be from, where else, Alabama. The choice who will not be available when the Patriots pick is offensive tackle, Evan Neal.

Neal has recently been nominated for the Outland Trophy, which honors the best interior lineman in college football. Yes, he is that good.

The problem is he has been cited as possibly the no. 3 pick in the entire draft next year. That’s not going to help the Patriots to secure his services.

He’s from Alabama and worked with Mac Jones there. Get this, he’s 6’7″ tall and weighs 360 pounds. What’s not to like? Imagine Neal and Trent Brown as bookend Patriots tackles. Yes.

I’d say, Awwwwwwww……yeeeeeeaahhhhhhhh! But, most likely that’s not happening for two reasons. One, the Patriots will be finishing way out of the top picks in the NFL draft.

Next. Reassessing the Pats final six games of the season. dark

Second, they will not likely be willing to surrender the draft capital necessary to move up that far to take Neal. It’s a shame. Neal is exactly what this team needs going forward.

So, with that in mind, the objective remains the same, offensive tackle, but the player targeted probably has to change.

That topic will be covered in much more detail later on in many of these same spaces. First, let’s see New England race to the top of the AFC East and beyond. Stay tuned.