New England Patriots: 4 players to watch in the CFP Championship Game

Jordan Davis #99 of the Georgia Bulldogs (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
Jordan Davis #99 of the Georgia Bulldogs (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

While the New England Patriots are currently getting ready for their upcoming Wild Card playoff matchup with the division rival Buffalo Bills, it’s never too early to start thinking about the NFL Draft, which is just a few months away. With college football’s national championship game set to be played tonight, here are four potential Patriots draft prospects—two on offense and two on defense—to watch in the clash between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Georgia Bulldogs.

New England Patriots prospect to watch No. 1: Jordan Davis – DT, Georgia

While the Patriots defense has been quite successful at defending opposing passing games this season, they have struggled mightily against the run. Enter Jordan Davis, easily the best interior defensive lineman in all of college football this season.

Standing at 6’6, 340 pounds, Davis is an absolute freak of nature, and an offensive lineman’s worst nightmare. Through the first 14 games of the 2021 season, Davis has recorded 30 tackles—including 16 solo—and two sacks, earning Unanimous All-American honors, and winning the Bednarik Award as the best defensive player in college football.

Projected to go in the second half of the first round, Davis would be a major addition to the Patriots defensive line, and one who could easily help them improve upon their middling run defense this season.

New England Patriots prospect to watch No. 2: Jameson Williams – WR, Alabama

While the Patriots passing game has improved dramatically under rookie quarterback Mac Jones in 2021 (although to be fair, there was nowhere to go but up after the Cam Newton fiasco of 2020), they still lacked a true deep threat at wide receiver. So why not add the best deep threat in college football this season in Jameson Williams?

Through 14 games, Williams is averaging 20.1 yards per reception, good for second among Power Five receivers with at least 50 receptions. And his 15 receiving touchdowns rank third in the country.

While Williams never actually played with Mac Jones at Alabama (he transferred from Ohio State prior to this season), he has experience playing in the same college offense, meaning that Williams and Jones should be able to quickly develop good chemistry. (In fact, it was Jones who helped teach Alabama’s offense to Williams’ offensive coordinator, Bill O’Brien, while he was preparing for last year’s draft.)

If the Patriots are able to land Williams, one of the top receivers in this upcoming draft class, they could take their passing game to a new level in year two of the Mac Jones era.

New England Patriots prospect to watch No. 3: James Cook – RB, Georgia

Running back is not exactly the biggest position of need for the Patriots, who already have the dynamic duo of Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson at the position. However, James Cook is more of an all-purpose back who could potentially fill the shoes of James White, who has missed most of the season with a hip injury, and could ultimately end up hanging up his cleats this offseason.

In the Orange Bowl against Michigan, Cook was actually the Bulldogs top receiver, as he caught four passes for 112 yards and a touchdown. If the Patriots draft Cook—who will likely go on day two or three of the draft—you can be confident that head coach Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels will find a lot of creative ways to utilize his talents.

New England Patriots prospect to watch No. 4: Darion Kendrick – CB, Georgia

With Stephon Gilmore gone and J.C. Jackson set to become a free agent this offseason, the Patriots could very well be in the market for a cornerback when the draft rolls around. And Darion Kendrick might very well be one of the top cornerbacks in this draft, even if his path has been an unconventional one.

Kendrick started his career at Clemson, where he played wide receiver as a freshman in 2018. After that season, however, he transitioned to cornerback. After earning First Team All-ACC honors at cornerback in 2020, however, Kendrick was dismissed from the team by head coach Dabo Swinney for disciplinary reasons.

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After getting the boot from Clemson, Kendrick transferred to Georgia, where he has had a bit of a redemption season, earning Second Team All-SEC honors. Kendrick was named the defensive MVP of the Orange Bowl against Michigan, as he recorded two interceptions in the game.

If the Patriots were to lose Jackson to free agency this offseason, drafting a talented cornerback in Kendrick would go a long way towards helping to ease that loss. And even if the Patriots were to re-sign their shutdown corner, they could still certainly use some more young talent in the secondary, which is currently one of the team’s most veteran units.