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#PostPulpit Mailbag: What will the Patriots do at No. 21 overall?

Related: What’s the best-case scenario for the Patriots in the first round of the draft?

Ohio State Buckeyes defeated the Utah Utes 48-45 during the 108th Rose Bowl game in Pasadena on Saturday, January 1, 2022. Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images

Folks.... we have officially made it. Welcome to draft day.

It’ll feel like an eternity until the New England Patriots’ 21st overall selection will roll around, so let’s kill some time and talk about all things draft.

@Pats_express What will/should the patriots address with their 1st pick? LB? WR? CB?

By now, you know the Patriots needs — and it’s pretty much everything except the quarterback position. On defense, they could use a big body along the defensive line and have still yet to find a true replacement for Kyle Van Noy along the EDGE. Getting a more explosive player at linebacker has been a popular theme, and cornerback will certainly be addressed after the departure of J.C. Jackson. Safety could also be considered a sneaky need in a new versatile defense and with Devin McCourty’s time coming.

Offensively, adding a wide receiver will likely be in the cards despite the DeVante Parker addition. Expect the Patriots to also add multiple players across the offensive line, as they lost both starting guards from last season and the future of their current two starting tackles is in question.

It would really be no surprise to see them select any prospect from those positions with their first selection Thursday night, or even trading down to add more draft capital in the process.

@bruinspatriots1 who we taking in the first.. ?

So, who will that 21st overall selection be? My prayer of a pick would still be Georgia’s Jordan Davis, but it looks extremely bleak they will even have the chance to select him — similarly to wide receivers such as Jameson Williams.

The way I see the board continuing to unfold presents the Patriots with a chance to take one of the top linebackers in this class. Utah’s Devin Lloyd certainly screams like New England’s next defensive chess piece, while Georgia’s Quay Walker has had a lot of smoke surrounding the Patriots in recent days. And if the Patriots are going away from more of their traditional prototype at the position, Georgia’s Nakobe Dean certainly fits the bill of a dynamic, more explosive player at the position.

While adding one of the top talents at linebacker would certainly be a difference maker on the defense, perhaps New England passes for an assortment of reasons. To start, they have been quietly adding more dynamic players at the position already in recent years (Josh Uche, Anfernee Jennings, Cameron McGrone, Ronnie Perkins). Perhaps they feel confident in this bunch taking on a larger role that the need for linebacker isn't worthy of a first round selection. Additionally, in a deep linebacker class, they could add a talented and athletic player at the position on day two (Chad Muma, Leo Chenal, Christian Harris, Troy Andersen).

If Option B is the answer, addressing the secondary would likely be my guess at No. 21 (or a potential trade back), with players like Andrew Booth Jr. (Clemson), Kaiir Elam (Florida), Trent McDuffie (Washington) and Daxton Hill (Michigan) as names to watch. It would also not be a surprise to see them fill their offensive line needs (Trevor Penning, Zion Johnson).

@foxborofenway How likely is Leo Chenal at 54?

Speaking of a day two target at linebacker, Leo Chenal firmly fits the bill. Chenal would be what we call a new-era thumper in today’s NFL — perhaps making him stand out to Bill Belichick’s eye. Chenal is aggressive downhill in the run game and is an extremely strong blitzer along the interior. He is also a tremendous athlete despite his plus-size (6-foot-2, 250 pounds), recording a Relative Athletic Score of 9.99 - allowing him to handle coverage assignments in the Patriots defense. The combination of Chenal’s size and abilities likely has Belichick’s attention, firmly making him a plausible selection at 54.

(I also just want a Wisconsin linebacker)

@NickTeixeira15 Will the Pats get Mac a stud [WR]?

As you noticed, we did not include receiver on the potential target list above. While adding a “stud” receiver is still a need in this offense, it just doesn't look like the Patriots will have the chance to add one. Ohio State’s Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave, along with Alabama’s Jameson Williams likely will all be gone before the Patriots’ first pick rolls around.

Now, the wide receiver class is still extremely deep — a now yearly occurrence — so they can still add a dynamic difference maker later in the draft. Alabama’s John Metchie and Western Michigan’s Skyy Moore would be great versatile additions, while NDSU’s Christian Watson or Georgia’s George Pickens are X-receiver candidates on day two.

Some other names to watch include Alec Pierce (Cincinnati), Wan’Dale Robinson (Kentucky), Kyle Phillips (UCLA), Romeo Doubs (Nevada), and Khalil Shakir (Boise State).

@StuJohnse Chances the pats draft Treylon Burks???

One name absent from the list above is Arkansas’s Treylon Burks, whose name could be called Thursday night. Burks’ profile likely scares Patriots fans (6-foot-2, 255 pounds), but he certainly has more pull-away speed than the other large receiver on the team’s current roster. The issue with Burks and the Patriots is his route running, which isn't as sharp or refined as a team like New England would prefer. He’s an interesting skill set and more explosive than N’Keal Harry, but the weakest part of his game aligns with one of the biggest causes for Harry’s failure in Foxboro. I don't see them going this route.

@MRyan_10 All along I have worried the Pats would draft Doubs and now reports are out they have showed more interest in him then any other receiver. I think Shakir in that range is a better fit for us. How would you sell me on Doubs being a better pick.

Two names included above that could be a round three or four option for the Patriots. The two Mountain West receivers have completely different skill sets, as Romeo Doubs is more of an X-receiver whereas Khalil Shakir is more of a slot option.

There’s been plenty of smoke surrounding Doubs and New England lately, as the team has met with him three times now in the pre-draft process. Doubs is a good athlete for his size (6-foot-2, 200 pounds) and showcases great straight line speed despite his underwhelming testing numbers. He projects well as a Patriots X-receiver who also has the versatility to play a big slot receiver.

As for Shakir, Boise State used him all over their offense, from jet sweeps, screens, and even as a wildcat quarterback. His skillset could bring potential to the Patriots slot receiver, as he portrayed a strong feel on shallow crossers and finding soft spots in zone defenses.

I think either would be a fine option on day three. If I had to sell you on Doubs however, he’s more versatile and fits a bigger need offensively.

@BostonEvan11 Running back?

Running back is certainly an under-the-radar need for the Patriots this season. While the one-two punch of Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson will again lead the way for New England next season, a heir and backup to James White is not on the roster. With that being said, I fully expect the Patriots to add a running back in some capacity this weekend, whether that comes on day three of the draft or with a UDFA.

Notre Dame’s Kyren Williams is one name to watch; he is a do it all back and former high-school wide receiver. His ability in the passing game is apparent and pass protection is his best ability.

Some other potential late targets include Pierre Strong Jr. (South Dakota State), Jerrion Ealy (Ole Miss), and C.J. Verdell (Oregon).

@pats300levelpod Any chance the Pats take SDSU P Matt Araiza in the 3rd round?

The Punt God.

New England’s punter situation may be more complicated than some think. Despite being a year removed from first team All-Pro honors, Bailey’s contract — a result of his accolade — makes his future murky. He is set to earn a shade over $4 million this season, a cap hit that is 16th highest on the roster.

If the Patriots want to move on from Bailey — a move that what just cost them over $72K in dead money — they might do so with Araiza in mind. He has a leg like none we’ve seen before and his field flipping abilities could be a legitimate game changer at the next level. Now, in the third round is questionable, but if Bill Belichick has a chance for the Punt God in the fifth round or so, it might be too good for him to pass up.

@CheyenneSulli14 Do agents of future players lobby mock draft media types?

Agents will lobby anything for their clients. Just look at this:

@AndresStein05 Are the Patriots winning the draft/offseason as we did last year?

It’s tough to follow up an offseason in which you shell out the most guaranteed money in NFL history, but I don't think the Patriots have won anything this offseason. However, I don't think their plan was to necessarily win the offseason up to this point. Based on comments from Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft the past month, it appears the team realizes how important it is for them to have another strong draft. Following up last year’s success and acquiring a few day one difference makers would do wonders for this current roster. That is how they’ll “win” this offseason.

@docterchill What time are the pats projected to draft Thursday night?

I have done math (which could be wrong).

According to my calculations, the Patriots will be on the clock with 21st overall pick at 11:20 p.m. ET if every team uses the full 10 minute time slot. That’s unlikely, however. So, let’s math.

Over the last three draft’s, the 21st overall pick has officially been on the clock at this mark:

  • 2019: 1 hour, 59 minutes, 8 seconds
  • 2020: 2 hours, 4 minutes, 54 seconds
  • 2021: 2 hours, 26 minutes, 28 seconds

If we find the average of those, we get a nice 2 hours, 10 minutes, and 10 seconds. So, we are looking right around the 10:10 p.m. ET mark. My brain hurts, and Bill Belichick will certainly now trade out to make all of that useless, but you’re all welcome.

That’s all for this week’s #PostPulpit mailbag. If you have questions you’d liked to be answered next week, submit them on Twitter using #PostPulpit! Make sure to be following @iambrianhines and @PatsPulpit as well!