As the New England Patriots approach summer camp the feeling here is that the offense is poised for a breakout but from the defense, well, not so much is expected. Contrary to expectations, the team neglected to draft any linebackers in the 2022 NFL draft. Passing on three in particular, may prove to have been a huge mistake.
The Patriots are relying on previously injured and/or untested players in the linebacking corps. If one categorizes Matt Judon as an edge, the steady but unspectacular Ja’Whaun Bentley is the only reliable asset.
This space has considered both the defensive line and the linebacking room to be far from being at a level to compete for a division title, never mind a Super Bowl. There are far too many question marks at both levels to feel comfortable with either.
The New England Patriots passed on worthy talent in the 2022 NFL Draft
The focus here will be the linebackers and mistakes of omission in the April draft. Any of (or maybe two?) three players on whom the team passed in the NFL draft could very well have provided significant additional talent and depth to that room.
That is especially compelling since the Patriots lost long-time star Dont’a Hightower (still a possible returnee ), Jamie Collins, and their top 2021 linebacker, Kyle Van Noy, all to free agency.
Let’s take a look at three linebackers in particular who may have been great picks in the first three rounds of the NFL draft and were passed on by the Patriots.