New England Patriots: Reassessing top 3 needs heading into the Draft

Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)
Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images) /
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New England Patriots
Jalen Mills #2 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

New England Patriots position of need No. 1: Cornerback

ADDITIONS: Malcolm Butler, Terrance Mitchell


The cornerback position had some holes coming into the offseason, but the gates got blown open with the departure of J.C. Jackson. Jackson leaving has left a gaping hole at corner that Belichick has addressed currently with the signings of Malcolm Butler and Terrance Mitchell. Neither guy is a lock to start next season, let alone make the roster, meaning the positon needs to be dealt with during the Draft.

Losing Jackson was the biggest loss for the Pats this offseason. They didn’t really have the cap space to extend an offer to him that he would consider, but their most talented defender left for nothing aside from a compensatory pick next year. Jalen Mills and Jonathan Jones are the two starting holdovers from last season, but neither guy is going to be able to go one-on-one with top wideouts.

Butler and Mitchell both have starting experience, but neither can really be counted on for much production at this point. Butler didn’t even play last season, as he retired during Training Camp with the Arizona Cardinals. Mitchell spent the past two seasons starting for the Houston Texans, but he was getting torched whenever he was on the field.

That makes the Draft the most logical place to fix this issue, and it’s basically a sure thing a cornerback prospect will be drafted at some point. The problem is that the top corners in the draft, such as Ahmad Gardner, Derek Stingley Jr., and Trent McDuffie, may all be off the board by the time New England is on the clock at pick #21. Belichick never picks a player too early, so while a trade up may be possible, it’s more likely he would wait until the second round to get his guy.

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Replacing Jackson isn’t going to be done with just one player, and there’s a chance Belichick just settles for a couple of developmental prospects while riding out Butler and Mitchell for the 2022 season. But hitting on a couple of cornerback draft picks after missing on picks like Joejuan Williams over the past few years is crucial, and if the Patriots don’t have a good draft this year, they could be in serious trouble moving forward.