The Patriots have a drastically different roster than a couple of seasons ago. Then, they saw the departure of Tom Brady, along with other notable veterans. After a massive spending spree in 2021, the Patriots seem to have found their core. They got their future at quarterback, along with plenty of depth on offense and defense. Many position groups are expected to have significant roles. Here are the three best groups heading into 2022.
Three: Tight Ends
The Patriots splurged during last off-season. Two of their notable moves were acquiring Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry. Hunter Henry regressed receiving yards-wise, but he thrived in the red zone. He was a great target for Mac with nine touchdowns, and there is undoubtedly good chemistry between them. Jonnu Smith didn’t live up to expectations, receiving 294 yards. Josh McDaniels didn’t know how to use the two tight ends exactly, and as a unit, they were around average. Another year in the system, with a more developed Mac, the two tight ends are set up well.
Increasing Jonnu Smith’s production is simple: Get him the ball more. Jonnu Smith is an excellent electric player for YAC and as a running back. Unfortunately, the Patriots didn’t give him enough touches. Both Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry are critical to their offense. With their two tight ends set, the Patriots could be a terrific offense, and it relies on Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry. Both tight ends can be good safety blankets for Mac Jones, and a new offensive scheme may help them.
Two: Running Backs
The Patriots’ running back department has a lot of depth. The return of James White cannot be underestimated, along with the emergence of Damien Harris over the last two seasons and a more developed Rhamondre Stevenson.
Harris has been an extremely efficient running back during his time with the Patriots. If Harris can stay healthy, there is a good possibility he can emerge as a top seven running back in the league. To complement him is Rhamondre Stevenson.
While he didn’t get much playing time the first few weeks into the season due to early fumble issues, Stevenson saw his playing time increase. This is remarkable because there is a long list of great patriots running backs buried on the depth chart in their rookie years after mistakes like that. He showed his potential, and with more reps and an off-season, he can also emerge as a fantastic complimentary running back.
The leadership and the trusty hands of James White, the emergence of Damien Harris, and the development of Rhamondre Stevens could make the Patriots’ running back group the best in the league. We can’t forget they drafted the fastest running back in the 2022 NFL Draft, Pierre Strong Jr.
They certainly have the talent and potential to be, which is why they are ranked the 2nd best Patriots position group. In addition, the running backs having a great year could make the Patriots an elite two-dimensional offense.
One: Wide Receivers
Like the running backs, the Patriots’ receiving room also has plenty of depth. So expecting a big year from them as a department is reasonable. The Patriots may not have an elite, highly regarded receiver, but their group can undoubtedly get it done. They have size with Devante Parker, the speed with Nelson Agholor and Tyquan Thornton, a playmaker in Kendrick Bourne, and a very reliable Jakobi Meyers who has a knack for getting open. In addition, each player has a designated role.
The depth they have could give problems to the opposing side’s defense. While I mentioned that the Patriots don’t have a widely regarded elite receiver who defenses are keen towards, it could help them here. Each week, a different receiver can be the most productive and vary depending on matchups. Therefore, the Patriots receiving group is ranked third. With Mac Jones entering his second year with more experience, the receiving department could take a healthy leap next season. The receivers must have a great year for the offense to function well.
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