With the NFL’s Scouting Combine kicking off this week in Indianapolis, NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah shared his thoughts on Friday with reporters on how the 2022 class is shaping up and who might be a quality fit in New England.
The Patriots own the 21st overall selection, along with five other expected picks, and will be looking to build from an impressive 2021 class that paid immediate dividends.
"I think this is a really good depth draft, especially when you get into the second, third, fourth round," said Jeremiah. "There's a lot of quality there, a lot of starters. I mean, I've said similar things in years past, but this year especially, the difference between the 15th player and the 60th player in this draft is very small, and teams are going to have these guys in all different orders."
That kind of draft layout could tempt the Patriots to trade down from 21 to round out their later picks while maximizing their bites at the apple in the second day sweet spot. But it will largely depend on identifying the "Patriots-type" players throughout the three days in April.
"You can kind of identify -- the teams I worked with, you kind of look at, okay, this is a Patriots' type player," said Jeremiah. "What does that look like? Usually, it's somebody that's got some versatility, they've got outstanding football intelligence so they can be able to do different things, and they can handle volume because it's an offense and a defense that morphs and changes all the time. Those types of players I think you can try and identify them in that way."
In Jeremiah's latest mock draft, he has the Patriots selecting Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd, a popular projected selection for New England. The NFL's draft analyst expounded on what he likes about the instinctive player.
"In terms of like the do-everything guys off the ball, on the edge, Devin Lloyd is my first choice there," said Jeremiah. "He's explosive. He's not going to run as fast as Micah [Parsons] did, but he's got length, he's got instincts, he's outstanding in pass coverage. Like if you watch the Stanford game, he's got a pick six in that game that's pretty cool."
Asked by NBC Sports Boston's Phil Perry which receivers might be around and available at 21st overall that could help elevate Mac Jones and the Patriot offense, Jeremiah said once again there's no shortage of options at the position, even into the later rounds.
"The two guys I would keep an eye on with that first-round pick who I think are going to probably come off the board right around there -- now, I say that going into the combine know that -- I'm talking about Chris Olave from Ohio State and Jahan Dotson from Penn State," said Jeremiah. "Both these guys are going to run in the 4.3s, so they're going to fly around in Indy, and maybe that helps elevate them up the board a little bit. But both those guys are pristine route runners with big time speed, and I think that would give them some play-making ability.
"Talk about Mac and the deep ball he was able to throw in college. He throws a beautiful touch deep ball. When you got guys that can get over the top, takeoffs, posts, double moves, things like that, that what's Olave and Jahan Dotson can do."
A wild card could be an elite Alabama receiver who tore his ACL late in the year, one who might not pay immediate dividends but could be a major steal down the line.
"The other one in the first round, we'll see what happens with Jameson Williams from Alabama, because in a world where he doesn't get hurt, he's a top-10 pick," said Jeremiah. "But coming off of an ACL you would think there would be a full recovery there, and that could end up being -- man, it could end up being a tremendous value for towards the bottom of the first round if he ends up sliding down there."
Finally, Jeremiah offered his thoughts on a Day Two option that could help make a difference.
"A couple other guys that I think are kind of like Patriot-type players, Skyy Moore from Western Michigan," said Jeremiah. "Probably going to go in the second or third round, but he's got some-- maybe it's just the Mac thing, but I saw some Antonio Brown traits from him when you studied him, minus some of the newer Antonio Brown info. But that dude with just eat cushion, he's really dynamic and crisp. The Patriots love guys like that."