The start of the 2021 Patriots season still is roughly four months away, but it’s never too early to look ahead to next year’s NFL draft right, right?
ESPN’s Todd McShay on Thursday released a very early 2022 first-round mock draft, less than a week after the 2021 draft in Cleveland concluded. For the Patriots, McShay at No. 23 has New England addressing a need that has lingered over the span of a few years in Foxboro: wide receiver. The veteran draft analyst currently projects Bill Belichick and Co. to use their first-rounder on Ohio State wide receiver Garrett Wilson.
“The Patriots got their franchise QB in Mac Jones, but they curiously did not pick a wide receiver until pick No. 242 (Tre Nixon),” McShay wrote. “With Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne occupying the top spots on the depth chart at the moment, receiver will likely be on the team’s 2022 offseason wish list. Wilson finished second on the Buckeyes in receiving yards by 6 yards (723) and in touchdowns by one (six), both to Chris Olave. With both Wilson and Olave projected here, this would mark the third straight year that there has been a school with two Day 1 receivers (Alabama in 2020 and 2021).”
Targeting wide receiver in Round 1 next year would be a wise move for the Patriots, even if Agholor and Bourne exceed expectations. Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski both are on expiring contracts, and N’Keal Harry seemingly is on thin ice in Foxboro.
That said, New England might prefer to address its wideout needs via free agency, and a handful of top-tier pass-catchers — including Davante Adams, Chris Godwin and Allen Robinson — are slated to hit the open market next spring.