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NFL 2022 mock draft: Patriots invest another first-round pick in a wide receiver

Related: Mock draft: Patriots pair Mac Jones with a high-upside wide receiver

Missouri v Arkansas Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Three years after selecting N’Keal Harry with the 32nd overall pick, could the New England Patriots invest another first-round draft selection to bolster it wide receiver group? Given that Harry has not panned out so far, and that the long-term future at the position is uncertain, it very much seems like a realistic possibility.

There are multiple players worth a first-round pick next year, and one of them is headed to New England in the first mock draft by ESPN’s Todd McShay:

31. New England Patriots (9-4)

Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas*

Burks to the Patriots would make it six receivers in the first round. According to ESPN Stats & Information, we’ve seen back-to-back drafts with at least five first-round WRs four times (2000-01, 2004-05, 2014-15, 2020-21), but we’ve never had three straight occasions. While this class doesn’t match 2021’s group in elite talent, it certainly has depth.

New England signed Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne in free agency this year, but it’s hard to find a true No. 1 receiver on this roster. To help quarterback Mac Jones continue the impressive start to his career, the Pats should give him a big target outside who can come down with anything. That’s Burks, who is 6-foot-3 and can adjust to off-target throws and pluck them out of the air. He isn’t a burner, but he is a savvy route runner with 11 touchdown catches this season.

Burks announced his decision to enter the draft last week, and for good reason: the 21-year-old is coming off the most productive season of his career, catching 66 passes for 1,104 yards and 11 scores.

A big-bodied pass catcher who knows how to use his size, the 21-year-old has some of the best hands in the draft. While there are questions about his ability to create separation — as McShay notes he is not a burner — his physicality and jump-ball skills are enticing.