As it stands, the Patriots’ secondary has a chance to be an area of weakness for New England in the 2022 NFL season.
Stephon Gilmore is long gone and the No. 1 cornerback on the depth chart, J.C. Jackson, has an uncertain future in Foxboro. The 2021 Pro Bowl selection is a very realistic franchise tag candidate, but Bill Belichick has a tendency to zig when he’s expected to zag.
The Patriots’ CB group beyond Jackson leaves much to be desired, and the secondary as a whole could become even weaker if Devin McCourty elects to retire. In hopes of stabilizing things in the back seven, New England selected a cornerback — Washington’s Kyler Gordon — with the 21st overall pick in Todd McShay’s latest 2022 NFL mock draft.
“The Patriots were second in passing yards allowed per game (187.1), tied for second in yards allowed per pass attempt (6.4) and second in interceptions (23). And they were one of three teams to keep opponents under 60% completion percentage,” McShay wrote for ESPN.com. “But the back seven could lose several starters to free agency, including cornerback J.C. Jackson, safety Devin McCourty and linebacker D’onta Hightower. It could also use an influx of speed in that area, of which Gordon has a ton. His versatility and ability to jump routes would also be welcome on one of the league’s top defenses — and he’d make the potential loss of Jackson a little easier to handle.”
Unfortunately for the Patriots, cornerback isn’t their only pressing need heading into the late-April draft. Using its first-round pick on a linebacker or a wide receiver also would make sense for New England.