The Patriots could use some help on the offensive side of the ball, and we’re not only talking about another wide receiver for Mac Jones.
There have been two significant subtractions to New England’s offensive line this offseason. Ted Karras signed with the Cincinnati Bengals in free agency, and the Patriots traded stud right guard Shaq Mason to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Third-year pro Mike Onwenu is expected to take over for Mason, but a replacement for Karras still is needed.
Chad Reuter identified a potential backfill in a column published Monday. The NFL draft analyst suggested two “perfect” picks for the Patriots later this month: interior lineman Zion Johnson and linebacker Leo Chenal.
“Look for the Patriots to try to trade out of the 21st pick. If they’re stuck there, however, Johnson’s stout play and underappreciated mobility help make up for the loss of Ted Karras to free agency and trade of Shaq Mason to the Bucs,” Reuter wrote for NFL.com. “Chenal possesses the versatility Bill Belichick likes in his linebackers; the quickness and tenacious nature of the former Badger allows him to attack quarterbacks as well as close gaps and chase down run plays.”
Chenal was New England’s second-round pick in our latest Patriots mock draft. The Wisconsin product isn’t great in coverage, but his kind of athleticism is much-needed within New England’s linebacking corps. Johnson, meanwhile, has good size (6-foot-3, 316 pounds) for an interior lineman and probably isn’t going to lose many battles in the trenches.
The 2022 NFL Draft will kick off Thursday, April 28 and run through Saturday.