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Patriots address one of their biggest needs in Mel Kiper Jr.’s new NFL mock draft

Related: Ryan Spagnoli’s 7-round mock draft 2.0: Patriots find their J.C. Jackson replacement

2022 CFP National Championship - Georgia v Alabama Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

The New England Patriots have fared well through the years when it comes to drafting players out of the University of Alabama. Just last spring, they added two potential cornerstones for their future in quarterback Mac Jones and defensive tackle Christian Barmore.

So, why not go back to the Crimson Tide well again this year? According to Mel Kiper Jr.’s new mock draft the Patriots will do just that in the first round — thus addressing one of the biggest needs on their current roster.

21. New England Patriots

Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama

Unlike last year, the Patriots have been quiet in free agency, notably losing star cornerback J.C. Jackson to a huge-money deal while not adding any surefire starters. I see holes at right tackle, off-ball linebacker, defensive end, cornerback and wide receiver. They’ve also lost several coaches this offseason, including offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. And yet, Bill Belichick’s Patriots team won 10 games last season and still has a lot of really good players.

I projected Williams here in my debut mock in mid-January, and it is a nice fit. Williams, who tore his ACL in the national title game, had a tremendous season for the Crimson Tide, with 1,572 yards and 15 scores. He said at the combine that he’s ahead of his schedule in his recovery, but it’s possible he misses a chunk of the season while rehabbing. New England could afford to wait for a receiver with true No. 1 upside who could be a star for years to come. And we know Belichick has a history of taking Alabama stars.

It is no secret that the Patriots need to improve the talent surrounding quarterback Mac Jones, and Williams would be a nice fit. If not for the torn ACL suffered in the National Championship Game he likely would have been off the board at this point already, but the injury might give New England a chance to add him.

That said, the Patriots do have bigger needs that have to be addressed — most notably at the cornerback position. While Ahmad Gardner (10th overall to New York), Derek Stingley Jr. (11th to Washington) and Trent McDuffie (12th to Minnesota) are all off the board in Kiper’s mock, other potential first-round CBs such as Clemson’s Andrew Booth Jr. or Florida’s Kaiir Elam would still be available.

The Patriots going after one of those rather than Williams would not be a surprise, even with the fit being a natural one. That said, if New England wants to go after an Alabama wideout coming off a torn ACL, John Metchie might just be a more realistic target.