Following the 2022 NFL Draft, it’s time to assess each team’s selections and today, hand out my grades for the New England Patriots and their draft class.
The Patriots entered the draft with a few glaring needs and did seemingly well to address them. In short, it was an up-and-down draft for New England that I’ll dive into pick-by-pick below. Here are my grades for each selection the Patriots made in the 2022 NFL Draft:
Round 1, Pick 29: Cole Strange, OG, Chattanooga
In one of the more controversial picks in the 1st round, the Patriots selected Cole Strange, a hard-nosed interior offensive lineman out of Chattanooga. While the media immediately scrutinized this “reach” of a pick, I believe Strange is a polished blocker with good enough technique to start for New England on Day 1.
His playstyle seems to fit the “Belichick mold” that continues to churn out quality offensive lineman, and he possesses that underdog mentality you look for in a blocker. While he doesn’t have the traits of the interior lineman I had ranked higher on my board (i.e., Zion Johnson, Tyler Linderbaum, Kenyon Green), the Patriots did well to trade down to pick 29 to select Strange and addressed a primary need with the best available player (in my opinion) at his position.
Round 2, Pick 50: Tyquan Thorton, WR, Baylor
While many draft analysts had Tyquan Thorton as a 4th-5th round talent, he was WR12 on my board with a 2nd round grade. He’s a true deep threat who has great leaping ability, hands, and run blocks with just about as much physicality as any receiver in this class. In his 2021 and 2019 seasons, his most productive seasons, Thorton was credited with just 5 drops.
New England needed speed, and Thorton will likely compete with Nelson Agholor for that deep threat role. Again, this pick is not the reach many would like you to believe, and I think the Patriots capitalized on their selection with a guy who likely wasn’t going to make it out of the 2nd round.
Round 3, Pick 85: Marcus Jones, CB, Houston
With his physical limitations, Marcus Jones is simply a slot corner at the next level. But boy, did Bill Belichick get his hands on a guy who is technically one of the best corners in the class. He’s an excellent player who, despite his size, is comfortable playing physical down the field.
Playing from the slot will be a bit of a learning curve for him, but he’s a useful player who can even contribute on special teams as well. We’ve seen similar, small corners thrive from the slot at the next level, and I will be the least bit surprised if we eventually add Jones to that list.