Draft expert pinpoints which players could be 'home run' picks for Patriots

Draft expert pinpoints which players could be ‘home run’ picks for Patriots

Patriots

NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah shared why Alabama’s Jameson Williams and Utah’s Devin Lloyd could be the kind of players the Patriots are looking for.

Jameson Williams is one of the best receiver prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft. AP Photo / John Bazemore, File

Heading into the 2022 NFL Draft, which begins with Round 1 on Thursday, NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah believes the Patriots have one need in particular.

That need isn’t exactly at a position, though. Speaking to reporters on a conference call, Jeremiah shared how the Patriots should use the draft to get more explosive.

“I mean, look, this is a team in my opinion that’s got a really solid foundation. Obviously, it’s a championship foundation for a long time, ”Jeremiah said. “But I just feel like the way the division is going, the way the conference is going, and the way the league is going, that they’ve got to get some more dynamic players, some more difference-making players.

“That to me is kind of their challenge in this draft and being more explosive offensively.”

This offseason, several AFC contenders added star playmakers on both sides of the ball. The Raiders acquired Davante Adams and Chandler Jones. The Chargers signed former Patriot JC Jackson and traded for Khalil Mack. Within the division, Buffalo signed linebacker Von Miller, Miami got Tyreek Hill, and New York is hunting for a star receiver itself.

New England added a receiver as well, acquiring DeVante Parker from Miami after it traded for Hill. But Jeremiah believes the Patriots should continue to add that position, pinpointing potential difference-makers they could draft on each side of the ball with the No. 21 pick.

“Obviously, [Alabama receiver] Jameson Williams would be a home run pick, ”Jeremiah said. “That would be somebody they would have great info on with Nick [Saban’s] connection there to Bill. That, to me, would be a fun one.

“I think you look on the defensive side of the ball, if you want to talk about a real playmaker on defense, I know linebacker, off-the-ball linebacker has been a little bit undervalued recently.

“But, man, [Utah’s] Devin Lloyd, for all the different things he can do, he kind of just feels like a Patriot type player with the size, the length, the versatility, the intelligence, the leadership. All that stuff kind of screams Patriot to me.

“Those are kind of a couple examples, but I just think, again, faster, more dynamic, more explosive has got to be an area they’ve got to look at in this draft.”

Both Williams and Lloyd are viewed among the top prospects at their respective positions in the 2022 class. Most experts have Lloyd ranked either as the best or second-best linebacker in the class, with Georgia’s Nakobe Dean being the other highly ranked alongside Lloyd.

If the mock drafts are right, there’s a strong chance he could be on the board when the Patriots are on the clock with the No. 21 pick. ESPN’s “Draft Day Predictor Tool” gives it roughly a 70 percent chance that Lloyd will still be around at No. 21. In fact, the tool gives it a greater than 10 percent chance that Lloyd will be selected at No. 21, which is the highest for him.

Lloyd fits the Patriots’ mold of linebacker more than Dean, too. New England has typically selected linebackers who are at least 6-foot-2 in the early rounds, and Lloyd stands at 6-foot-3 while Dean is just 5-foot-11.

The case for the Patriots to select Williams is a bit more tricky. Williams’s draft stock has fluctuated throughout the first round after he tore his ACL in the national championship game in January. But as reports indicate that he’s rehabbing well from the injury, Williams’s stock has climbed so high that he could be the first receiver taken off the board. ESPN’s “Draft Day Predictor Tool” gives just a 20 percent chance that Williams will be available at No. 21, which would suggest that the Patriots might have to trade up in order to get him.

If healthy, Williams could be the big-time playmaking receiver that would fit well with Mac Jones for years to come. He led the SEC in receiving yards per reception in 2021 (19.9) and was third in the FBS in receiving touchdowns (15).

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