By Callum Squires

The NFL Draft is over, and we cannot head into the three-month abyss that is the offseason without looking at what all 262 selections mean for each franchise. Whilst too early to judge just how successful a draft class each team’s was, we can look at how rookies fit within schemes, where they stand on depth charts, and who we can expect to make an impact in 2022. We continue our team by team series with the New England Patriots:

Draft Haul

129Cole StrangeIOLTennessee-Chattanooga
250Tyquan ThorntonWRBaylor
385Marcus JonesCBHouston
4121Jack JonesCBArizona State
4127Pierre StrongRBSouth Dakota State
4137Bailey ZappeQBWestern Kentucky
6183Kevin HarrisRBSouth Carolina
6200Sam RobertsIDLNW Missouri State
6210Chasen HinesIOLLSU
7245Andrew StueberOTMichigan

Day One

Credit: Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

As the Belichickian Empire seeks to rise again with it’s new young QB now a sophomore, the Patriots headed into the draft needing to add more weapons around Mac Jones, and fill some of the key defensive voids left by free agent losses and cuts. So, of course, the Patriots made perhaps the most controversial (or at least divisive) pick of Day 1, selecting Coke Strange, G from Tennessee-Chattanooga.

Never let it be said that “if you’re good enough, they will find you” isn’t an accurate statement. Having traded back with Kansas City, New England were still able to address one of the areas of their team that needed reinforcing by picking Strange at #29 overall. However, the headlines and confusion stemmed from the fact that many felt Strange was a Day 2 player at best. O-Line was an area of need for a Patriots roster that suddenly looks on the cusp of the “rebuild” category, but I was surprised the Pats chose to trade back rather than stick and pick one of the elite CBs or LBs that were still on the board.

There’s two ways to look at this: 1). The Patriots reached for a player that Rams’ Head Coach Sean McVay admitted they had looked at as a potential choice at pick 102… or 2). The Patriots scouting department should be trusted, and if they believe in Strange, who am I to doubt them? I tend to lean towards option 2), largely because I do trust Belichick for the most part and the Patriots have always been able to build stout lines on both sides of the ball.

Day Two

Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

With pick #50 the Patriots attempted to give Mac Jones a speedy weapon. Tyquan Thornton, WR from Baylor, grabbed a lot of combine buzz after his blistering 4.28 40 yard dash time, which was the fastest all week. Though, again, there were cries of “reach” from the peanut gallery, but some have disputed this suggesting both the Saints and Packers were also interested in Thornton in Round 2. Thornton is slender, but running that fast despite standing 6’2” is rare. Last season’s Patriots offense was borderline devoid of speed and – aside from a few Kendrick Bourne plays – really lacked explosiveness. Thornton should give them that from now on.

In Round 3, the Patriots chose Marcus Jones, CB from Houston with pick #85. Cornerback was always likely to be an area of news following the loss of JC Jackson. Jones may be undersized (standing at just 5’8”), but was the #1 ranked kick returner in the country last year. We know Big Billy B loves him some special teams. Jones’ multi-faceted production will help him earn a spot with the Patriots from the jump.

Day Three

Perhaps unsurprisingly, considering their penchant for trading back and collecting late round picks, the Patriots were at their busiest on Day 3 of the draft, picking 7 players from Rounds 4-7. This roster needed depth and there are a number of projects here who may develop into key contributors in future seasons.

“Bailey Zappe is a name many college football fans know, and not just because it’s unusual - the former Houston Baptist QB followed his head coach to Western Kentucky and breezed the step up in competition, throwing for the most yards and touchdowns in the NCAA last year. He’s a streetfighter in pads who will give everything he’s got for sixty minutes, and when he gets in rhythm he’s a very difficult quarterback to keep in check. The measurements won’t be kind to him in the draft process, and his physical limitations mean that the jump up to the next level will be far from simple as the first one. He’s not starter material, but he’s a long-term backup QB who could turn heads with eye catching cameos.”
Mock Draft
Simon Carroll
Head Of NFL Draft Content

A few key points on the Patriots’ late round selections:

  • I found it very strange the Pats added TWO more rookie running backs to a room already including Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson, JJ Taylor & James White. Strength in depth is one thing, but that’s a lot of mouths to feed. How big is this committee going to be!? 
  • Bailey Zappe seems to be a candidate for being a great NFL Backup QB… but is his selection perhaps a safety valve in case Mac Jones doesn’t progress as expected? Something to ponder…
  • I’ve seen a number of reports suggesting Sam Roberts could be one of the biggest sleepers of this class. So no surprise Belichick was all over adding another 300lb monster up front. Roberts is a DII product which – again – shows that if you’re good enough, the NFL will find you.

One To Watch: Josh Paschal

It’s perhaps unfair to put this level of pressure on him, but likely all that will be remembered from this Patriots Draft class is how their first selection turns out. Good or bad, the history of this class will rest on the shoulders of Cole Strange. If Strange becomes an overnight success, the accusations of “reaching” will be immediately forgotten about. That said, if he ends up not performing to the calibre of a 1st Round O-Lineman, then the negative press coverage will be loud.

Strange saw his stock rise hugely on the back of a great week at the Senior Bowl, and now seeks to join a long list of successful FCS transplants into the league. If he’s able to help solidify a Patriots front weakened by the loss of Shaq Mason’s trade to the Bucs, then New England fans will feel great having a key piece of their interior protection for Mac Jones locked up long term. I genuinely hope Strange finds success, and perhaps there are few better landing spots for a rookie to hone his craft than with Belichick and his crew, but Strange will have to deliver – and soon.

UDFA Tracker

D’Eriq KingQBMiami
Brenden SchoolerSTexas
Kody RusseyIOLHouston
LaBryan RayIDLAlabama
Jake JuliePEastern Michigan
Liam ShanahanIOLLSU
DaMarcus MitchellLBPurdue

New England added 7 UDFA’s, but by far and away the most notable and well-known was former Miami QB D’Eriq King. King has great speed and played significant time as a WR at college too, so many thought he may be able to make himself useful as a gadget player for the Patriots in the future. However, the Patriots have since waived King, which is a disappointment to many who wanted to see him have a chance in the league. The remaining 6 will seek to fare better and try and crack the Patriots final 53 man roster come September.

Credit: AP Photo/John Raoux


It feels both sacrilegious and risky to say this – because Bill Belichick IS the greatest NFL coach to have ever lived – but the Patriots are in danger of falling to a lower place in the league this year than we’ve seen in a number of decades. Perhaps the biggest surprise of Draft weekend was the team’s lack of a LB pick, which had been tipped by many as a key area of need with Jamie Collins & Dont’a Hightower yet to be re-signed. Furthermore, at CB… The two Jones’ selected in Rounds 3 & 4 will have to go a long way to fill the void left by the departures of Stephon Gilmore and JC Jackson in the last two years. They may turn out to be great players, but the choice of going for Thornton in Round 2 – when he may well have been available in around 3 – felt a bit strange, considering some of the holes they need to fill. 

Mac Jones is going to have to produce significantly above where he was during his rookie season if the Patriots are going to return to the playoffs, especially considering how stacked with talented teams with AFC is right now. The addition of Devante Parker could be pivotal, giving Jones a big bodied safety blanket receiver, but that will require Parker himself to stay healthy, which has far from been a guarantee in recent seasons. I like the addition of Tyquan Thornton as a speedster, but this Patriots incarnation is again going to be built on solid defense and an offense that is unexplosive, yet functional. The Bills are the clear pick of the AFC East, the Dolphins have gotten better, and even the Jets appear to finally have a direction… It would be foolish of me to write New England off, but if the Pats want to return to their post-season dominance of yester-year, Jones is going to have to evolve into Tom Brady 2.0 sooner rather than later. You wonder if that will ever happen.