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Ryan Spagnoli’s 7-round mock draft 3.0: Patriots add even more versatility to their secondary

Related: Ryan Spagnoli’s 7-round mock draft 2.0: Patriots find their J.C. Jackson replacement

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 04 Big Ten Championship Game - Michigan v Iowa Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After a quiet free agency up to this point, it’s pretty clear that the New England Patriots want to continue to build through the draft — something team owner Robert Kraft said himself at the NFL meeting in Palm Beach.

With just three picks inside the top 100 and several needs on both sides of the ball, however, there is a good chance the Patriots see value in trading back from pick 21 to accumulate several Day 2 picks. The 2022 class is deep at several positions, after all, and the Patriots need to add more playmakers around Mac Jones while their defense is desperate for more speed and depth.

So, here’s a stab at how I think next month’s draft might shake out for the them. For comparison, here are Mock Draft 1.0 and Mock Draft 2.0.

Please click here for an in-depth look at all 2022 NFL Draft prospects that Keagan Stiefel and I put together.

Trades

  • Patriots trade 1-21 to the New York Giants for 2-36 and 3-67
  • Patriots trade 4-127 and 5-170 to the Washington Commanders for 4-113

Round 2, Pick 36 (via NYG): DB Daxton Hill, Michigan

Notice I listed Daxton Hill as a defensive back rather than a safety? That’s because he is a true athlete that can line up all over the secondary. The 4.38-speed he showed at the combine allows him to excel as a deep safety, as does his tackling skill. He can also line up inside the box, however, and lock down the slot in man coverage.

The Patriots’ moves this offseason could result in them playing a lot more zone than the typical man coverage we have seen over the last decade. After the signing of Jabrill Peppers on Tuesday, New England has now built the majority of its secondary inside out: around slot/box defenders who will try and keep up with the skill and speed opposing offenses possess.

Hill has plenty of that and would also add even more versatility to a group already full of it: Peppers, Devin McCourty, Adrian Phillips, Kyle Dugger, Jalen Mills, Jonathan Jones and Myles Bryant have all shown that they can play multiple positions in the defensive backfield. If the Patriots indeed look to play more zone in 2022, adding Hill would be a massive addition here in the second round.

Round 2, Pick 54: LB Chad Muma, Wyoming

The Patriots showed a willingness to improve their linebacker position already this offseason, swinging a trade for Mack Wilson in mid-March. Despite Wilson and Ja’Whaun Bentley in the fold, and with Raekwon McMillan and Cameron McGrone expected to have larger roles in Year 2, New England still lacks a true three-down linebacker.

Enter Chad Muma. Muma is your modern-day linebacker that has a rare mix of size, speed and athleticism at 6-foot-3 and 240-plus pounds. He has elite play strength and loves to get physical while playing downhill in the run game; Muma has the potential to be the leader of the Patriots’ front seven for several years to come.

Round 3, Pick 67 (via NYG): WR John Metchie III, Alabama

For all of the Alabama products that made their way to New England, not one of them has been a wide receiver. That finally changes at pick No. 67: the Patriots upgrade their receiver room and acquire one of Mac Jones’ favorite college targets.

Metchie is a versatile, yards-after-the-catch receiver that will boost the Patriots’ receiving talent from the moment he gets to Foxborough. He’s a natural separator that can align all over the place and make plays on and with the ball: out of his 2,058 yards the last two seasons, 760 came after the catch — leading all SEC receivers over the last two seasons.

While he is coming off a torn ACL, Metchie would bring versatility and YAC ability to a position group desperate for it.

Round 3, Pick 85: G Cole Strange, Chattanooga

The Patriots lost both Ted Karras and Shaq Mason this offseason, and they are certainly in the market to find a pro-ready guard that can come in and play right away. Michael Onwenu is expected to slot into one of the vacant spots but the Patriots have a big hole on the opposite side.

A Senior Bowl standout at 6-foot-6, 330 pounds, Strange would bring a lot of power and explosiveness to the Patriots interior. The Chattanooga product is athletic enough to get to the second level, and help out downfield. His versatility and power make him a slam-dunk pick here in the third round.

Round 4, Pick 113: EDGE DeAngelo Malone, Western Kentucky

With Chase Winovich out and Ronnie Perkins looking to compete for more snaps in 2022, it is no question the Patriots will want to continue to load up on the edge as they look for more production across from Matthew Judon.

Malone is an experienced edge rusher that displays elite athleticism at his size and has a knack for getting to quarterbacks. Despite being a bit undersized off the edge — he was measured at 6-foot-3, 243 pounds at the Scouting Combine — Malone wins with speed and his explosiveness flashed all week at the Senior Bowl, where he found himself winning consistently versus future first-round picks.

Round 6, Pick 200: OT Tyrese Robinson, Oklahoma

Joe Thuney, Shaq Mason and Ted Karras — to name a few — are all big-time hits along the Patriots interior offensive line on Day 3 of the NFL draft. They swing again and go with Tyrese Robinson out of Oklahoma here. Due to his 6-foot-4 325-pound frame, he can fill a need as both a swing tackle and plug-in player on the interior if needed.

A three-year starter for the Sooners who is one of the better pass-blocking guards in the class, Robinson is a mauler who fills the Michael Onwenu role going forward: a guard that has plenty of tackle ability as well.

Round 6, Pick 210: QB E.J. Perry, Brown

With Brian Hoyer on the back-nine of his career and Jarrett Stidham entering the final season of his rookie contract, the Patriots have to start planning for a backup for the future behind Mac Jones.

An Andover, Mass. native, E.J. Perry has been working out this offseason with both Jones and Stidham in preparation for April’s draft. He has shown the intelligence and skillset to make a career out of being a backup in the NFL, and it would probably be a dream come true for him to be able to suit up for his hometown team.

At least in this scenario that dream becomes a reality.

Poll

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