New England has many areas of need as they head into the NFL draft this year. The offense has been the place of focus in many mock drafts by the experts, particularly that of wide receivers and the offensive line. With both positions garnering so much attention, let’s take a look at those who fit the best in New England.
Over the last few seasons, the Patriots have struggled to improve their wide receivering room. Whether it was drafting N’Keal Harry over Deebo Samuel and A.J. Brown, or losing Julian Edelman to injury before his retirement. New England has not had a true WR1 in quite some time.
The additions of Kendrick Bourne and Hunter Henry last season jump-started the rebuild process for the team, with both delivering more than anticipated. The pick-up of DeVante Parker via trade with the Dolphins just a few weeks ago was a step in the right direction in continuing the improvements. But there are many seemingly great receivers in this year’s draft, especially those of WR1 potential.
With so many needs to be dealt with on this team, New England may not go with a receiver in the first round. But as it is a very defensively favored draft, it’s very possible they could still snag a top name in later rounds.
Jameson Williams – University of Alabama
A much-discussed name in the media and fans to end up in Foxboro is Jameson Williams. As a University of Alabama alum, the connection with quarterback Mac Jones is already there. Despite never playing with Jones, the system run by Nick Saban in Alabama is said to be very similar to that of Bill Belichick. The familiarity with both coaches could play a significant role in the QB and WR connection.
Overall, Williams is a typical player the Patriots like. At 6-foot-2 and 179 pounds, he is a dynamic and speedy route runner, giving Jones the ability to throw downfield. His 2021 season was noteworthy, as a college player but even if a pro accomplished the same in the NFL. He ended his last year in Alabama with 1,572 yards and 15 touchdowns. Williams could be the ideal offensive threat the Patriots desperately need.
He is, however, rehabbing after tearing his ACL in the National Championship game in January. He’s said to be ahead of schedule but could be limited during his rookie year.
John Metchie – University of Alabama
Much of the same could be said about John Metchie. Another Alabama alum, Metchie did spend time catching passes from Mac Jones. In the last two NFL seasons, the unique chemistry seen between former college teammates in Bengals’ Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase may make selecting Metchie too intriguing to pass up.
In his last season with the Crimson Tide, Metchie had his best season yet; setting career highs with 1,142 yards and eight touchdowns. He’s an above-average route runner with the ability to make some great contested catches. With great body control and his skill in stretching the field, he’d be a great asset to the Patriots long-term.
Like Williams, however, he is also recovering from a knee injury he sustained in the SEC title game. It’s been reported this could hinder his production during his rookie season. Regardless, his speed and awareness would bolster the Patriots’ offense if he is drafted.
Chris Olave – Ohio State
If for some reason he falls to them in the first round, the Patriots could benefit from drafting Chris Olave. He has the talent to create separation and the speed that makes for vertical opportunities. He could add a much-needed skillset that New England has been searching for.
As the Patriots look to add a true WR1 to their team, Olave has the potential to easily become that right away. A four-year player who is still only 21 years old. Olave had a great senior year catching 65 balls for 936 yards and 13 touchdowns. He did so as a great route-runner and consistent effective production. This would pair well with all the names Belichick added in free agency last year.
New England’s offensive line has seen its share of troubles over the last few seasons. Dealing with injuries to several players, caused many to play out of position. This brought consistency issues making the protection of the quarterback shaky.
Coming into the 2021 off-season, more changes have occurred; Shaq Mason was traded to the Bucs and Ted Karras signed with the Bengals in free agency. Losing two starting guards makes the offensive line much more vulnerable, making it another priority in the draft.
Zion Johnson -OG- Boston College
A top prospect in the draft the Patriots should consider is Zion Johnson out of Boston College. Because of all the changes the line is facing, he would be an automatic starter on day one. Earning All-ACC honors for three straight years, he was also named the top player in the Senior Bowl.
Johnson is that explosive type of player to immediately make an impact on any team. The most Patriot-like quality he possesses is his versatility to play several positions on the line. He’s also a strong and physical player with impressive mobility for the position he plays. Drafting Johnson would bring the reliability of a high-caliber and flexible player, just what the Patriots need.
Kenyon Green -OG- Texas A&M
Another player the Patriots should consider is Kenyon Green. At 6-foot-4 and 323 pounds, Green is a giant on the line, making it easy for him to push around defenders. With the run-blocking abilities, he would add to the line, he could make a solid impact on the potential success of the offense.
During the 2021 season, Green displayed all that he is capable of as he played every position on the line, even one snap at center. Green brings the talent needed in pass protection and can be successful when getting to the second level in the run game.
As New England’s roster continues to get younger, it’s key they draft more protection for Mac Jones. The AFC East has become much more competitive, and the Patriots will need to help their young QB as much as possible. Drafting Green would be a great addition to the solid lineman already on the team.
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