The New England Patriots’ 21st pick does not look like a top spot for a cornerback

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Quick thoughts and notes about the New England Patriots and the NFL:

1. Backed up in a corner? If the Patriots were preparing to play a game this week, their starting cornerbacks would be Jalen Mills and …

That’s a big question, without a doubt the team’s most significant.

Malcolm Butler, Terrance Mitchell and Shaun Wade are top-in-house candidates (Jonathan Jones and Myles Bryant are slots), which is why an ideal scenario would be for the 2022 NFL draft to give them more crucial answers.

But unlike last year in the first round, where the Patriots desperately needed a quarterback and were lucky that Mac Jones was available as No. 15, several analysts do not see a similar scenario for the Patriots this year with a cornerback of 21.

Cincinnati’s Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner is an expected top-10 pick, and LSU’s Derek Stingley Jr. and Washington’s Trent McDuffie is also expected to be off the board in his 20s.

“Then there’s a drop-off,” said ESPN senior analyst Mel Kiper Jr.

ESPN Draft Analyst Todd McShay has Clemson’s Andrew Booth Jr. as the next option, but in more of the 25-32 range, which would not represent the “value” coach Bill Belichick often seeks. The Patriots should also be familiar with Booth’s limited starting experience (15 games).

Kiper had considered placing Booth for the Patriots in his most recent mock draft before giving them Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd, with Booth eventually landing at 29 for the Kansas City Chiefs.

In general, Kiper said: “The depth of the cornerback this year is not that great [after the top group]. It’s there in numbers, but there are a lot of hit or miss guys. “

Kiper therefore wonders if Belichick could consider switching into his teens if Stingley slips into that area, given that Stingley tracked as a possible No. 1 player in the draft, if not for the 2020 COVID-19 season and then suffers from a torn Lisfranc ligament. in his left foot that put him on the sidelines in nine games in 2021.

If the Patriots were looking for a safer choice, similar to what they did in 2010 with Devin McCourty, safety Daxton Hill (6 feet, 191 pounds) in Michigan would be a consideration at 21.



See some of the Michigan Safety Daxton Hills highlights from his college career.

“He did everything – he can be a slot corner, play midfield, tackle as well, come after the quarterback, can intercept passes. He’s perfect for the way the game is played today,” said Kiper.

“You could argue if you just say ‘defensive backs overall’, No. 1 is Sauce Gardner, No. 2 is either [safety] Kyle Hamilton or Derek Stingley Jr. and you could put Daxton Hill next door alongside Trent McDuffie. [Hill is] one of the best overall defensive backs in this draft. “

2.BB at 70: Belichick turned 70 last Saturday, a milestone that gives him a chance to do something rare. The only head coach to have won at least 10 matches or getting into the playoffs as a 70-year-old is Marv Levy, who did it twice with the Bills in 1995 and 1996.

Grohs intro: First-year Patriots director of staff Matt Groh held his first video conference with journalists on Friday, sharing insights and engaging in a variety of topics – ranging from the influence of young people playing 7-on-7 flag football, producing wider, high-quality receivers , to assistants. coach Matt Patricia plays a leading role in the acquisition of receiver DeVante Parker, for the lack of major linebackers in college due to the proliferation of scattered passing offenses. At various points, Groh also referred to a handful of others in the organization – Eliot Wolf, Steve Cargile, Marshall Oium, Nancy Meier, Richard Miller, Brian Smith, Berj Najarian and Richie Armand, among them – in a nice touch that reflected a selfless approach in his new leadership position.



Tedy Bruschi explains how Mac Jones’ presence and leadership could help make the most of DeVante Parker.

4. Defend dolphins: Groh acknowledged that the Patriots have been keeping a close eye on how the Dolphins have added significant speed this offseason, including the acquisition of receiver Tyreek Hill to pair with Jaylen Waddle, among others. “We’re very conscious of what they have down there … We have to play them twice. These are two very, very meaningful games,” Groh said. “We need to have a way of being able to fight the two players, along with many of the other big players that they have and have been able to add.” In terms of how the Patriots plan to do that, Groh highlighted some of the behind-the-scenes work that has taken place over the past month. “There are several ways to do this, not just through staff, [but] scheme, “he said.

5. Draft prediction: ESPN’s analysis department has created “Draft Day Predictor”, an interactive tool that assesses the odds on which players may be available at each location in the draft. By beating the numbers for the Patriots’ choice of 21, it highlights, among other things, the aforementioned expected gap after the three best cornerbacks. Overall, the first player I was looking for was Georgia’s defensive tackle Jordan Davis – whose physical elite traits would make him an obvious Patriots choice – and there’s about a 20% chance he’s available.

6. Mac context: Kiper said Thursday that Jones would have been the best quarterback in this year’s class based on his scouting report coming out of Alabama, which was a reminder of how lucky New England was last year. Not all quarterback classes are created equal, and the ’21 class was deep enough for the Patriots to wait at No. 15 pick on who they think is their franchisee. This year’s QB class comes a long way from that.

7. Wise remarks: Defensive lineman Deatrich Wise Jr. was a guest at the Patriots’ annual season ticket membership draft preview event last weekend, and he shared, among other things, stories about his draft day experience in 2017 (fourth round, Arkansas). One topic was how formidable opponent Bills is and how the Patriots could close the gap in 2022, and he said: “The Bills have certainly had our number a couple of times last season, but I do not treat any team differently. They can bring the Incredible Hulk in for everything I care about. [still] will still buckle our helmets up and [compete]. “It elicited applause from the crowd.

8. Land of Moses: The Patriots are scheduled to begin their volunteer offseason program on Monday, and the first two weeks are dedicated solely to strength and conditioning work, led by coaches Moses Cabrera and Deron Mayo (brother of former linebacker / current assistant Jerod Mayo). Players are limited to 90 minutes on the court and clubs can only specify two hours for players to be on the facility. In that direction, free-agent safety Jabrill Peppers said one of the things that stood out for him last year during joint training with the Patriots was how well-conditioned the team was. The team runs … a lot.

9. Tilt the old block: When the Patriots hosted a handful of local prospects Wednesday at Gillette Stadium, University of Rhode Island defender Coby Tippett was among them. Coby is the son of Pro Football Hall of Famer and Patriots all-time fire chief Andre Tippett, so he is no stranger to Foxborough. The 5-8, 195-pound Tippett has been working in Florida since January with longtime athletics coach Tom Shaw, tested well on Bryant University’s pro day, and his likely path into the NFL would be as an exhausted free agent. Andre Tippett, the team’s longtime CEO of community affairs, had to burst with pride on Wednesday.

10. Did you know: During Belichick’s tenure (2000 present), the Patriots have used a first-round pick on a wide receiver only eleven (N’Keal Harry, 2019). It’s a tie for the few in the NFL during that time, with the New York Jets, Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers and Los Angeles Rams.

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