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NFL 2022 mock draft: Patriots find some potential long-term help at offensive tackle

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

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 19 Louisiana at Georgia State Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After drafting what will hopefully turn out to be a long-term solution at the quarterback position in 2021, the New England Patriots might decide to invest in his protection next year. Mac Jones is already playing behind one of the best offensive lines in football as a rookie, but a team can never have enough O-line depth.

Add Louisiana tackle Max Mitchell, who is the Patriots’ projected pick in the latest mock draft by Pro Football Focus’ Trevor Sikkema:

29. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: OT MAX MITCHELL, LOUISIANA

Record: 9-5

Strength of Schedule: .468

Mitchell moves really well for a player of his size. At 6-foot-6, 300 pounds, his flexibility and movement skills are a plus. He can really sink his hips with a good base and is also fluid with flipping his hips. He’s been a starter for ULL since his true sophomore season. He’s a small-school player who I believe is ready for the next level of competition and would be a welcomed addition to the Pats’ offensive line.

Despite the unit playing some quality football in 2021, the Patriots are facing some questions along the offensive line.

That is especially true at the offensive tackle position. Left tackle Isaiah Wynn will enter a contract year and is no guarantee to be kept around beyond the 2022 season; right tackle Trent Brown will enter unrestricted free agency next spring; backup Michael Onwenu might still have a better outlook at guard than tackle; Justin Herron and Yodny Cajuste have yet to show they can be anything more than backups.

The Patriots adding a player like Mitchell early next spring would therefore not be a surprise, and would give the team a tackle to groom in case Wynn is not retained after the 2022 season. He would therefore be on the same plan as some of his predecessors, namely Nate Solder and Wynn himself. Both sat a year before being handed the keys to their quarterback’s blindside.