New England Patriots: Discussing top priorities heading into 2022 Draft

New England Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson (38) Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
New England Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson (38) Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports /

There is a lot of discussion about where the New England Patriots 2022 NFL draft priorities should be and this will explore where they are.

The New England Patriots were blown out by the Buffalo Bills in their two final meetings in 2021. While the Patriots made the playoffs, the disparity in talent between them and the Bills was pretty large.

Let’s take look at just where the team needs to concentrate its efforts in the offseason to close the gap with Buffalo.

New England Patriots 2022 draft priorities on offense

While the discussion about just where the team has to put its emphasis in the offseason is subject to interpretation, the fact is the team needs upgrades in many areas.

On offense, the team struck gold with two offensive draft picks in 2021. They drafted their quarterback of the future in the first round in Mac Jones. It was a terrific pick and exactly what they needed to do.

Then, in the fourth round, they finally chose a big running back in Rhamondre Stevenson. He was outstanding and an excellent complement to another solid young back, Damian Harris. That was another gem of a draft pick.

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So, what needs to be done on offense this offseason? First, the team needs to solidify its offensive line situation. Their best tackle, Trent Brown, is a free agent. He should be re-signed and should be placed at left tackle.

Admittedly, Brown is a favorite in this space. He is talented and while often missing time due to injury, he has an attribute at left tackle that can’t be taught, and that is tremendous length. He held down the left tackle position in the Patriots’ last Super Bowl-winning season in 2018 and that win was no accident.

The Patriots should not make the same error twice with Brown and another key interior offensive lineman, Ted Karras, and let both leave again in free agency. Even if they bring back both of these guys, they would still be wise in investing a pick or two on a lineman for some depth behind their starters, or maybe even bring in a starter with a high draft pick if the board falls that way.

The Pats also desperately need a #1 wide receiver. One isn’t presently on the current squad. This also needs to be a high draft priority, though a deep receiver class may allow them to pick up that player in the second or third round.

New England Patriots needs on defense

The Patriots have some major needs on defense, with most of them getting exposed by Josh Allen and the Bills in demonstrative fashion during the Wild Card game. Where do they need help? The simple answer is almost everywhere.

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First, the most glaring requirement is speed on defense. They were unable to corral the elusive Allen on scrambles. He gashed them and led the Bills to two blowout wins. That need has to be rectified in at least two positions; linebacker and edge rusher. They need a sideline to sideline linebacker or two who can snuff out runs by opposing quarterbacks.

This can be had in the draft for certain, and maybe in free agency as well. Two additions are necessary while simultaneously cutting ties with older or slower linebackers who aren’t meeting the needs of the 2022 NFL.

In addition, the Patriots edge players other than Matt Judon, who faded later on in the season, made almost no impact at all. Chase Winovich, a former third-round pick, and Josh Uche, a former second rounder, both flopped in 2021. They need to be replaced with better edge performers. Both are trade bait.

In addition, a young top corner would be a solid addition, especially if they allow J.C. Jackson, arguably their best defender, to leave. Another young defensive tackle would also help. They have too much mediocrity on the D-line at present.

This leaves the New England Patriots with a serious dilemma. They are low on cap space after their big free agency splash in 2021 that had solid but not across-the-board good results. In addition, they are draft pick-poor with only six picks in a very deep draft. It’s a poor time not to have their usual double-digit picks.

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They need to wheel and deal to acquire more picks and trading is the way to go. Solid but dispensable players, as well as underperformers, should be dealt for whatever the team can get to amass additional picks.

In addition, tough decisions to release a number of current players who are too costly for their current production must be made. This is never easy but needs to be done to free cap space to add free agent upgrades.

This is the Patriots’ personnel situation in the 2022 offseason as seen here. What positions do you feel they need to upgrade?