The New England Patriots selected one player on Day 1 of the 2022 NFL Draft: Chattanooga offensive lineman Cole Strange at No. 29 overall.
They could be much more active on Saturday.
The Patriots enter the third and final day of this year’s draft armed with a total of seven selections: three in the fourth round, three in the sixth and one in the seventh. Here’s a look at where each of those picks falls:
Will New England draft a player at all seven of those slots? That’s unlikely. The Patriots already have executed three trades in this draft and could swing more on Day 3 to either move up the board or acquire additional picks in 2023. They made one future-focused deal Friday night, moving down from No. 94 to No. 137 in exchange for a third-rounder in next year’s draft.
The Patriots will add at least some players over the course of Saturday afternoon, though, and they have a number of perceived roster weaknesses that still need addressing.
One of those is offensive tackle, as the Patriots have little proven depth behind the injury-prone Isaiah Wynn and Trent Brown and could let Wynn go after the upcoming season. Potential targets there include Wake Forest’s Zach Tom, Arizona State’s Kellen Diesch, Minnesota’s Daniel Faalele, Louisiana’s Max Mitchell and Illinois’ Vederian Lowe.
New England surprisingly passed on a slew of starting-caliber linebacker prospects on Days 1 and 2, with director of player personnel Matt Groh saying the Patriots feel “really good” about their current group. They still could add to that unit, however, and the crop of still-available ‘backers features Cincinnati’s Darrian Beavers, Penn State’s Brandon Smith, Oklahoma State’s Malcolm Rodriguez, Iowa State’s Mike Rose, Indiana’s Micah McFadden and Arizona State’s Darien Butler, among others.
The Patriots also could use a running back with pass-catching ability to learn behind and potentially succeed James White — Notre Dame’s Kyren Williams, South Dakota State’s Pierre Strong, Missouri’s Tyler Badie, Michigan’s Hassan Haskins and Baylor’s Trestan Ebner are among the remaining options — and another body for their defensive line. Possibilities for the latter include Oklahoma’s Perrion Winfrey, LSU’s Neil Farrell, Kentucky’s Marquan McCall and Alabama’s LaBryan Ray.
If the Patriots want more depth on the edge, Alabama’s Christopher Allen and Florida’s Jeremiah Moon are intriguing late-rounders. They also could look to double-dip at receiver (UCLA’s Kyle Philips, Boise State’s Khalil Shakir or Rutgers’ Bo Melton could provide a boost in the slot, and Alabama’s Slade Bolden is a potential late-round flier) or cornerback (Sam Houston State’s Zyon McCollum, UTSA’s Tariq Woolen, Alabama’s Jalyn Armour-Davis and Josh Jobe, and Cincinnati’s Coby Bryant are much longer than the 5-foot-8, 174-pound Jones).
The Patriots don’t have a need behind center with Mac Jones entering his second season, but they frequently drafted developmental backups early in Tom Brady’s tenure and could do so again Saturday. Western Kentucky’s Bailey Zappe and Iowa State’s Brock Purdy are more traditional passers, while Brown’s EJ Perry and Miami’s D’Eriq King have multipositional potential.
Lastly, New England could choose to swap in a new punter with Jake Bailey’s salary skyrocketing (and nonguaranteed) this season. San Diego State’s Matt Araiza has an enormous leg and is considered this year’s top punting prospect. Penn State’s Jordan Stout and Georgia’s Jake Camarda also are likely to be drafted.