clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

NFL Draft rumors: Which positions the Patriots targeted with their reported pre-draft meetings

Patriots pre-draft tracker: Interviews, workouts, meetings, and more

Washington Pro Day Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

With the 2022 NFL Draft set to kick off in Las Vegas later today, months — and, in part, years — of preparatory work will come to an end. For the New England Patriots, it means making a decision what to do with the 21st overall selection in the first round.

Who will ultimately be brought in with that selection and the others currently held by the club remains to be seen, but it has shown interest in various players through the pre-draft process. Let’s take a closer look at who they have met according to our meticulous pre-draft tracker — and what this might mean in the grand scheme of things.

(SB = Senior Bowl; EW = East-West Shrine Game; SC = Scouting Combine; PD = Pro Day; VC = Video call; W = Workout; O = Other meeting).

Wide receiver: 10

Slade Bolden, Alabama (SC+O); Treylon Burks, Arkansas (SC); Romeo Doubs, Nevada (SB+SC+T30); John Metchie III, Alabama (SC+T30) Skyy Moore, Western Michigan (SC); Chris Olave, Ohio State (SC); Kyle Philips, UCLA (EW); Wan’Dale Robinson, Kentucky (SC); WR Khalil Shakir, Boise State (PD); Christian Watson, North Dakota State (SB); Jameson Williams, Alabama (SC)

The wide receiver position is a need for the Patriots even after acquiring DeVante Parker via trade. They were in touch with several candidates to be picked both on Day 1 and in the later rounds — including Alabama’s Jameson Williams and Ohio State’s Chris Olave.

Linebacker: 9

Troy Andersen, Montana State (SC); Darien Butler, Arizona State (SC); Aaron Hansford, Texas A&M (SC); Christian Harris, Alabama (SC); Drake Jackson, USC (SC); Devin Lloyd, Utah (SC); Chad Muma, Wyoming (SC); Joshua Onujiogu, Framingham State (T30); Quay Walker, Georgia (SC)

New England is in the process of rebuilding its linebacker group, and accordingly has had close contact with multiple players at the position. Standing out among those listed here are projected first-rounders Devin Lloyd out of Utah and Quay Walker out of Georgia. Both are realistic candidates to end up as Patriots when all is said and done.

Cornerback: 6

Andrew Booth Jr., Clemson (T30+PD); Jack Jones, Arizona State (T30+W); Marcus Jones, Houston (T30+PD); CB Chase Lucas, Arizona State (W); Trent McDuffie, Washington (T30); Josh Thompson, Texas (W)

Andrew Booth Jr. and Trent McDuffie are the most prominent list of cornerbacks who were in touch with the Patriots this pre-draft cycle; both visited Gillette Stadium on top-30 visits. The team has taken a close look at the entire position group, though, as evidence by workouts and other meetings with lower-profile players such as Arizona State’s Jack Jones.

Interior offensive line: 5

Joshua Ezeudu, North Carolina (T30); Kenyon Green, Texas A&M (T30); Zion Johnson, Boston College (O); Cam Jurgens, Nebraska (SC); Zach Tom, Wake Forest (VC)

With both Shaq Mason and Ted Karras wearing different uniforms next season, the Patriots are in need of upgrading at guard. Among those players they reportedly were in touch with are two projected first-rounders: Boston College’s Zion Johnson and Kenyon Green out of Texas A&M.

Running back: 4

James Cook, Georgia (T30+PD); Mataeo Durant, Duke (W); Sincere McCormick, UTSA (PD); Kyren Williams, Notre Dame (SC)

The Patriots have no immense need at running back, but bolstering the depth by adding a developmental option does make some sense. Among the players the team talked to was Notre Dame’s Kyren Williams, a player very much fitting what the team is looking for.

Offensive tackle: 4

Ja’Tyre Carter, Southern (PD+SB); Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa (SB+T30); Bernhard Raimann, Central Michigan (SB+T30+PD); Tyler Vrabel, Boston College (W+PD)

While Tyler Vrabel, son of Patriots legend Mike Vrabel, is a noticeable name on this list, the most intriguing players here are Trevor Penning and Bernhard Raimann: two of the top offensive tackles expected to be available late in the first round, they might very well be considered at No. 21.

Quarterback: 3

D’Eriq King, Miami (O); E.J. Perry, Brown (W+PD); Malik Willis, Liberty (SC)

The Patriots have no need to add a starting-caliber quarterback thanks to Mac Jones, but they still met with the consensus QB1 in this year’s draft: Malik Willis. Why? Possibly to get a better feel for the player that he is and what the team drafting him will get.

Defensive line: 2

Thomas Booker, Stanford (VC); Rayshad Nichols, Stephen F. Austin (W)

New England adding to its defensive line this draft would not be any surprise, but the information coming out about pre-draft meetings was sparse. They likely were in touch with more players than those — at Georgia’s pro day featuring first-round prospects Jordan Davis and Devonte Wyatt, for example — but for now those are all that were reported.

Safety: 2

Tariq Carpenter, Georgia Tech (PD); Coby Tippett, Rhode Island (W+PD)

The safety position is in the same basic boat as the defensive line. The Patriots are expected to add to it in the draft, which means that the low number of reported workouts should be taken with a large grain of salt.

Tight end: 2

Isaiah Likely, Coastal Carolina (O); Chigoziem Okonkwo, Maryland (EW)

New England has virtually no need to draft another tight end, but

The main question with pre-draft meetings, at least when it comes to projecting what the Patriots will do, is whether or not they mean anything. Let’s take a look back at the last six years to find out how much pre-draft contact actually led to the team investing a draft pick or free agency check in a player.

In 2021, the Patriots spoke with first-round quarterback Mac Jones at both the Senior Bowl and his pro day. They also met with defensive tackle Christian Barmore and defensive back Joshuah Bledsoe. All in all, however, two thirds of their drafted and undrafted rookie class did not have any reported contact with the club.

The process looked different than normal in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which led to the Patriots having reported pre-draft contact with only two of their 10 draft selections. Guard Michael Onwenu had a virtual meeting with New England, while outside linebacker Josh Uche spoke with New England at the combine. The team did, however, get an up-close look at second-round pick Kyle Dugger at the Senior Bowl, despite no reported direct contact between the two sides.

In 2019, meanwhile, the Patriots had reported pre-draft contact with four of its 10 draft selections. First-round wide receiver N’Keal Harry, second-round cornerback Joejuan Williams and fourth-round quarterback Jarrett Stidham came to New England on a top-30 visit — something that was very much eliminated the last two years due to the Coronavirus pandemic — while fifth-round defensive tackle Byron Cowart spoke with the team at the Senior Bowl.

Of the team’s undrafted rookie class, meanwhile, one player had some form of reported contact with members of its staff: Terez Hall spoke with the Patriots at his pro day and came to New England on a top-30 visit.

In 2018, the Patriots drafted nine players — five of them had pre-draft contact with New England: first-round selection Sony Michel spoke with the club at the Combine, while Duke Dawson, Christian Sam and Braxton Berrios all were brought in for top-30 visits. Furthermore, Keion Crossen was worked out privately by the club as well.

While the team was in touch with the majority of its draft picks, it did not have any reported form of contact with a member of its undrafted rookie class.

In 2017, New England drafted a league-low four men and spoke with half of them before the event: the team brought offensive tackle Antonio Garcia in for a top-30 visit and worked out defensive edge Derek Rivers at the Youngstown State pro day. Both Garcia and Rivers were later drafted in the third round, even though neither made it through his rookie contract before getting released.

Besides meeting with the two future draft picks, New England also had contact with three players who would join the team as undrafted rookie free agents: defensive backs Damarius Travis and D.J. Killing both met with the team at their respective pro days, while defensive tackle Josh Augusta was brought in for a visit.

In 2016, the Patriots were more active on draft day and picked a total of nine players. Of those nine, three met with the team before the draft: wide receivers Malcolm Mitchell and Devin Lucien as well as cornerback Cyrus Jones. Tight end Bryce Williams, who later signed as an undrafted free agent, also had pre-draft contact with New England.

As can be seen, a sizable group of players picked by the Patriots in the past has never had any reported meetings with the team. While 2018 was a bit of an outlier when it comes to the club’s pre-draft behavior only limited conclusions can be drawn from New England’s reported interest leading into the event.

Every pre-draft cycle is obviously different, especially with the Coronavirus restrictions in place the last two years. That said, the Patriots are always playing their cards close to their vest — something that has never changed.