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2022 NFL Draft: Potential Patriots target Andrew Booth Jr. recovering from sports hernia surgery

Related: Patriots draft profile: Andrew Booth Jr. is a low-risk, high-reward cornerback who could fall into New England’s lap

Wake Forest v Clemson Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

The New England Patriots selecting a cornerback early in next month’s NFL Draft seems like a relatively safe bet. If they indeed opt to go that route, one of the players to watch is Andrew Booth Jr. out of Clemson.

A projected first-round selection that should be available when New England is on the clock at No. 21, Booth Jr. comes with few question marks and is considered a low risk/high reward prospect. That being said, potentially interested teams such as the Patriots will keep a close eye on his medicals heading into the draft.

Booth Jr., after all, is currently recovering from a recent sports hernia surgery. The 21-year-old had to undergo the procedure because he suffered a Grade 2 quad strain ahead of the NFL Scouting Combine. The injury kept Booth Jr. out of both the Combine and Clemson’s pro day in mid-March.

While he is “expected to be ready for the start of training camp,” according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, his status for rookie minicamp and the offseason workout program is up in the air.

Booth Jr. enters the draft off an impressive three-year career with the Tigers. Appearing in 35 games, including 15 as a starter, he intercepted five passes and proved himself one of the better press-man corners in the nation during his standout 2021 junior campaign. His performance in his final season at Clemson earned him first-team All-ACC honors, and positioned him among the top cornerback prospects available this year.

The Patriots will therefore keep a close eye on him during the pre-draft process. Considering that they just lost Pro Bowler J.C. Jackson in free agency, they are in the market for additional starter-caliber depth on the perimeter.

At the moment, the top of New England’s outside cornerback depth chart is led by last year’s CB2, Jalen Mills, as well as offseason additions Malcolm Butler and Terrance Mitchell. Booth Jr. would be a welcome addition to the mix considering his potential as a Day 1 starter opposite Mills.

If selected by New England, Booth Jr. would become the first Clemson player drafted by head coach Bill Belichick.