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NFL 2022 mock draft: Patriots pair Mac Jones with a high-upside wide receiver

Related: Mock draft: Patriots try to find their next Dont’a Hightower

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Ohio State v Michigan Photo by Mike Mulholland/Getty Images

The New England Patriots invested considerable resources to upgrade their receiving arsenal this offseason. They signed the top two tight ends available — Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry — and also added wide receivers Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne on multi-year deals.

Together with Jakobi Meyers and N’Keal Harry, Agholor and Bourne form the core of New England’s wide receiver group this season. While lacking high-end star power, the group has generally worked well alongside the tight ends and rookie quarterback Mac Jones.

With Harry underperforming as a former first-round draft pick, however, changes could be on the horizon. One possibility is therefore that the team invests another high selection in the wide receiver position — something Dane Brugler of The Athletic projects in his first mock draft of the year:

29. New England Patriots — Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

Wide receiver isn’t a glaring need for the Patriots, especially considering Bill Belichick has only drafted one wide receiver in the first round since he became New England’s head coach in 2000. But Olave is the type of prospect who can change plans if he is available. A smooth athlete, Olave is already on an NFL level with his route transitions and catch-point skills.

One of the top wide receivers in the country — he is the fifth to come off the board in Brugler’s mock — Chris Olave has proven himself a reliable weapon for Ohio State. Through 11 games this season, he has caught 65 passes for 936 yards and 13 touchdowns.

He has been able to establish himself as a serious first-round candidate due to his tremendous technique: Olave might just be the best route-runner in the draft this year, which would naturally make him a fit in New England’s offense. The thought of pairing him with Mac Jones certainly will be on the team’s mind come the draft.