2022 NFL Combine: 5 Players the New England Patriots Should Watch
The 2022 NFL Combine is well underway, and the New England Patriots have plenty to keep their eyes on in Indianapolis. Back in the playoffs last season after missing in 2020, the Patriots still have, for them, a high first-round pick then NFL Draft at No. 21. They will also pick 54th in the second round and 85th in the third.
Given some critical needs on both sides of the ball, especially at cornerback with the news that J.C. Jackson is virtually certain to hit the free-agent market, the Patriots will need to be judicious with their selections, making the scouting done at the combine even more valuable.
Here is a look at five players the Patriots likely have their eyes on during the course of the combine, as they look to build on a successful 2021 Draft that landed them quarterback Mac Jones at No. 15. This year, the key selection could be a player Jones will throw the ball to.
Devin Lloyd, Linebacker, Utah
Lloyd is starting to emerge on several mock draft boards as the likely pick at No. 21, as the Patriots look to improve on defense after collapsing over the final six weeks of the regular season and playoffs. The run defense was particularly suspect and linebacker Dont’a Hightower was especially vulnerable to the run and is now headed to free agency.
Lloyd is considered the second-best linebacking prospect in the draft, but should still be on the board at No. 21 if the Patriots want to go in this direction.
Chris Olave, Wide receiver, Ohio State
Olave put on a show in the 40-yard dash this week, clocking at 4.39. If there is one area the Patriots desperately need to improve, it is at wide receiver, in particular a deep threat option to take the top off a defense. Olave was part of a prolific Ohio State offense and at 6-foot-1 would be a terrific target for Jones to work with.
The only problem for the Patriots is that Olave’s solid combine might have boosted his draft status enough to get selected well before No. 21.
Christian Harris, Linbebacker, Alabama
Harris could be a perfect fit for the Patriots as a second-round selection if the team looks to use its first-round pick on a wide receiver or cornerback. Harris is an ideal run-stopper from the linebacker position who is also adept at defending tight ends and running backs circling out of the backfield for passes.
That Harris played at Alabama never hurts, as the Bill Belichick-Nick Saban connection is always worth considering. His ability to stop the run and defend the pass makes him an every-down player who should mesh will in Belichick’s system.
Jahan Dotson, Wide receiver, Penn State
Should Olave not be there at 21, or the Patriots use their first round pick to fill a defensive hole, Dotson in the second round is a worthy consideration. Dotson passed on the 2021 NFL Draft and returned to Penn State for his senior season and probably made a wise choice, as he put up huge numbers last season, catching 91 passes for 1,182 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Dotson has drawn comparisons to Tyreek Hill, but because the draft is loaded at the wide receiver position, it’s possible he could slip all the way down to No. 54, where the Patriots would be thrilled to get him.
Andrew Booth Jr., Cornerback, Clemson
A bit of a late bloomer after missing the 2020 season with an injury, Booth is the type of player who could flourish in the Patriots’ system and could ultimately be a first-round product available in the second round. Washington’s Kyler Gordon is another player who could be available in the second round and would be a solid addition to a secondary missing its best piece with Jackson gone.
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference