Even with DeVante Parker brought aboard earlier this offseason, the wide receiver position remains a need for the New England Patriots. The team, after all, lacks some long-term perspective: Parker is already 29; Jakobi Meyers and Nelson Agholor are in the final year of their contracts; N’Keal Harry is on his way out.
The best way to improve this situation and add a long-term starting-caliber wideout to the roster is through draft, and there are several prospects worth pursuing. Near or maybe even right at the top of that list is Jameson Williams.
The junior pass catcher is coming off a tremendous season at the University of Alabama that saw him haul in 79 passes for 1,572 yards and 15 touchdowns. Williams’ first year with the Crimson Tide — he transferred from Ohio State ahead of the 2021 season — allowed him to enter the draft as a first-round lock and possible target for the Patriots.
One person who sees the fit is former NFL scout and current analyst for NFL Network, Daniel Jeremiah. Speaking with reporters on a conference call on Thursday, Jeremiah mentioned the Patriots’ need to get more dynamic.
Williams would help address that issue.
“This is a team in my opinion that’s got a really solid foundation. Obviously it’s a championship foundation for a long time,” Jeremiah said. “But I just feel like the way the division is going, the way the conference is going and the way the league is going, that they’ve got to get some more dynamic players, some more difference-making players. That to me is kind of their challenge in this draft and being more explosive offensively.
“Obviously, Jameson Williams would be a home run pick. That would be somebody they would have great info on with Nick [Saban]’s connection there to Bill [Belichick]. That to me would be a fun one.”
Despite coming off a torn ACL suffered during in the National Championship Game in January, Williams is an intriguing target in the draft. His game-breaking speed, after all, will be a challenge to defenses and would give the Patriots a serious deep threat that can stretch the field and open up space underneath.
Adding him to New England’s passing offense would instantly make it a better one, and give the team a WR1 for the foreseeable future. The question, of course, is whether or not Williams will fall into the team’s lap or if it would feel comfortable trading up to get him.
Of course, getting more dynamic does not necessarily mean adding one of the best wide receivers available. The Patriots might also go in a different direction, and address their defense early on.
One player to watch, at least according to Jeremiah, is Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd.
“If you want to talk about a real playmaker on defense, I know linebacker, off-the-ball linebacker, has been a little bit undervalued recently,” he said. “But, man, Devin Lloyd, for all the different things he can do, he kind of just feels like a Patriot type player with the size, the length, the versatility, the intelligence, the leadership. All that stuff kind of screams Patriot to me.”
The consensus number one off-the-ball linebacker this year, Lloyd is projected to come off the board in Round 1 as well. It is not hard to see why: he is a three-down defender and combines a modern skillset — sideline-to-sideline range and quickness — with a 6-foot-3, 237-pound frame.
While a bit smaller than the Patriots’ usual prototype at the position, Lloyd would be an instant starter and possible difference-maker for their defense as well. Of course, however, it is an either/or scenario for the team: both Lloyd and Williams will be drafted in the first round next week, and they are not the only players New England might have on its list of candidates on Day 1.