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Sunday Patriots Notes: Mac Jones is putting in the work this offseason

New England Patriots v Miami Dolphins Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Even though we are in the middle of the offseason, the New England Patriots are quite busy. Between pre-draft preparation and player-led workouts, the team has a lot going on these days.

So, without further ado, let’s dive into this week’s Sunday Notes.

1. Mac Jones is putting in the work this offseason. Earlier this week, Mac Jones and some of his teammates were in Tampa getting some work in. Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, Jakobi Meyers, J.J. Taylor and newly acquired wide receiver DeVante Parker were the crew running routes and training with Jones.

The workout was the first visual evidence — mainly due to the content on Kendrick Bourne’s Instagram — we have seen this offseason of the players getting together to do some work ahead of organized team activities starting next month. However, it was not the first of its kind: Jones also participated in similar workouts in the Massachusetts area, with multiple players including tight end Jonnu Smith participating as well.

Jones, meanwhile, took shared a video of the workouts on his social media channels:

What those sessions show is that players have invested time this offseason to continue to build chemistry with the Patriots’ starting quarterback.

2. What to make of the Patriots’ early top-30 visits. For the first time in two years, teams are allowed to host prospects in their facility during the pre-draft process. To clarify, top 30 means that teams are allowed to have up to 30 such prospects inside their building for formal meetings prior to the NFL Draft.

The Patriots hosted a variety of players over the last week, including offensive lineman Trevor Penning, defensive tackleKenyon Green, as well as cornerbacks Trent McDuffie, Andrew Booth Jr., Marcus Jones and Josh Jones. Those visits are a good indication that the Patriots are leaning towards drafting positions of need early on in the draft — interior offensive line, cornerback and linebacker.

However, the team also uses them to get another close look at prospects who still have some unanswered questions in their file. Whether it is medicals or off the field issues, New England is using those top-30 visits to further complete the picture.

3. Patriots traded for one of the NFL’s best wide receivers. In the aftermath of the Patriots trading a 2023 third-round pick to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for DeVante Parker and a fifth-round selection in 2022, it was reported that the wideout was targeted heavily by other teams looking for wide receiver help. Parker made it clear that he preferred the Patriots over anywhere else, however, which helped the team beat out those competing teams.

The Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints and Washington Commanders were among the teams interested in trading for Parker before he ultimately became a member of the Patriots. In turn, New England can now call one of the NFL’s better wide receivers its own:

After the Dolphins drafted Jaylen Waddle in the first round last year, signed Cedrick Wilson Jr. and then traded for Tyreek Hill, Parker saw himself likely looking from the outside in and needed a fresh start elsewhere. New England benefitted from this situation: Parker gives the team’s offense a combination of size and speed on the outside, and at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds can go up and make contested catches.

4. Revisiting the Patriots’ lone encounter with Dwayne Haskins. Former first-round draft pick and Pittsburgh Steelers backup quarterback Dwayne Haskins was killed on Saturday morning in Florida after he was struck by a vehicle. Haskins was just 24 years old at the time of his death.

The Patriots have had only one encounter with Haskins throughout his brief time in the NFL. During his 2019 rookie season in Washington, he and his team faced New England in the regular season.

Before the game, head coach Bill Belichick spoke about the 15th overall selection in the 2019 draft.

“Haskins, obviously, is a young and talented guy, he was taken in the first round,” Belichick said about him. “Big, strong kid. Athletic guy, strong arm, can make a lot of throws. Just doesn’t have as much experience in the offense as [Case] Keenum has this year or as [Colt] McCoy has in the years that he’s been there.”

Haskins did not see the field during Washington’s 33-7 loss to the Patriots in October 2019, and two years later left to join the Steelers.

5. Robert Kraft gives back to Harvard Business School. Patriots owner Robert Kraft and his son, Jonathan, visited Harvard Business School this week to announce the establishment of the new Robert K. Kraft Family Fellowship Fund. The largest fellowship fund at the school at $24 million, it was introduced to help students unable to meet the financial requirements to attend HBS.

“Seeing the young people who come through here, there’s a certain pride,” Kraft said, via patriots.com. “The way I want people to feel great being associated with the Kraft Group, I feel about being associated with Harvard Business School. Not because of Harvard, but because of the business school, the kind of people that come through here and the kind of people that are connected here.”


Mailbag

I think the fact the Patriots are loading up on late-round picks is for a variety of reasons. One being that it gives them the flexibility to be able to do what they want on Day 3 of the draft. It also allows them to have the ammunition to move up into Round 4 if they feel somebody is falling to them.

Also, they are one of the teams in the league that has tended to find a lot of late-round gems — especially along the offensive line — so having as many picks as they do in Round 5 allows them to go a bunch of different directions. Long story short: it’s all about flexibility.

My gut tells me the Patriots are leaning towards trading out but with eight picks in this upcoming draft, it’d be a surprise if they drafted that many players — in part due to their cap situation right now.

Typically how the Patriots run their draft room and is they’ll have X amount of players, they will have a first-round grade on. If those players are a) not available or b) they don’t see the value in taking them at No. 21, they’ll try to move back and pick up a few early picks on Day 2. A good trade to look at for how they may view a moving-back scenario this year is from 2020: the Patriots sent pick No. 23 to the Los Angeles Chargers in exchange for picks number 37 and 71.

Great question, Derek. This would be a tough situation because I think all players would certainly fit and fill a need that they have. If we’re being realistic, though, I do not think there is a chance that both Chris Olave and Devonte Wyatt make it to the 21st selection. Either way, I would lean Trent McDuffie.

McDuffie’s scheme versatility, speed and open-field tackling is something the Patriots lack at the outside cornerback position right now. We have seen a variety of moves in their secondary — primary at the slot and in the box — I think McDuffie would fit exactly what they have been leaning towards building. His presence would also give the team a future CB1 on the outside that can ultimately play anywhere and in any coverage.

Give me McDuffie if this example came into fruition.

As for your first question, I think a lot of fans are higher on John Metchie than a lot of teams. Certainly, the Alabama factor helps his stock when fans look at him but I also think there’s more receivers that bring more to the table than Metchie would as a Round 2 pick — Skyy Moore, Christian Watson, George Pickens to name a few. If Metchie is hanging around in Round 3, however, I would certainly be interested in taking him.

At No. 21, there is a variety of ways they could go but definitely think they will be leaning towards the defensive side of the ball. Cornerbacks like Andrew Booth Jr., Kaiir Elam and Trent McDuffie are options at 21. As for linebackers, I think there’s a good crop of players they can target at No. 54 to fill their need there: Christian Harris, Quay Walker, Chad Muma.