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APC Community Mock Draft 2022: The Patriots are on the clock at no. 21

The Patriots are set to pick after the Steelers selected Desmond Ridder at no. 20.

NCAA Football: Arizona State at Utah Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers selected Desmond Ridder with the 20th pick of our community mock draft. After Ben Roethlisberger retired this offseason, the team signed Mitchell Trubisky to be their starter. Ridder will most likely start the season on the bench but will be expected to start sooner rather than later as he steps into the franchise quarterback role.

The Patriots stayed relatively quiet this offseason after spending cash like a kid in a candy shop last spring. After a blistering start, New England cooled down and finished 1-4 over their last five games. Last year’s free-agent spending spree was surprising to see from the typically conservative franchise but raised the level of talent to give Mac Jones an easier transition. This year, things have returned to normal in Foxborough, with the Pats staying relatively quiet as a few AFC teams engage in an arms race. With gobs of cap space next summer, they are most likely focused on bargain-bin options this year.

After investing in Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne last season, the Patriots were on the market for more receiver help. They got it in the form of trading for DeVante Parker, who is their biggest addition thus far. Their top corner, J.C. Jackson, signed with the Chargers and created a hole in the secondary. Jalen Mills and Malcolm Butler are not going to cut it as the starting corner tandem. Andrew Booth Jr. is available here and would go a long way towards replacing Jackson.

They also will need help at linebacker, as Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins remain unsigned. The team has typically opted for linebackers weighing 250 lbs. or more, but speed is the name of the game today. Matt Groh, New England’s director of player personnel, recently spoke about the lack of bigger linebackers in today’s college game. This explains why the Patriots were willing to trade for Mack Wilson, a 6’1”, 233 lb. backer from Cleveland. If the Patriots are willing to get smaller and faster at the position, Devin Lloyd could be the pick here. His range and aggressiveness could begin the Patriots defensive transformation over the next few years.

The biggest move of New England’s offseason may have been the Shaq Mason trade. The talented guard had two years left on his deal but may have wanted a new contract that reset the market. Or Bill Belichick simply felt he could save cap space this year and get similar production. Whatever the reasoning was, there is now a hole at guard, and the Patriots will need to find a replacement if they don’t believe a current player like Michael Onwenu is the answer. Zion Johnson is the top interior lineman on the board right now and projects as a solid starter at the next level.


Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson

Booth Jr. was a standout for Clemson in 2021 despite their disappointing season. The CB led the team with three interceptions and added five pass breakups on his way to a Second Team All-ACC nod. Booth is a physical corner with good size and the agility needed to close on throws and make plays. He is an aggressive tackler but occasionally leaves his feet too early and whiffs. Hip fluidity and balance allow him to excel in man and zone coverage and his burst helps cover any mistakes. Booth has been limited in the pre-draft process due to injury but should still see his name called in the first round.

Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah

Lloyd had himself quite a season last year. A three-year starter at Utah, his last season was his best as he led the team to a Pac-12 title and was named the conference’s defensive player of the year. In 13 starts, he posted 110 tackles, eight sacks, and returned two interceptions for touchdowns. Lloyd has sideline-to-sideline range and has the aggression you look for in your best linebacker. However, his lower body is tight and leads to some weird body angles in space. He is able to diagnose plays and has solid awareness in coverage as well as some pass-rushing ability. Lloyd will likely be a first-round pick and checks a lot of the boxes teams desire in a modern linebacker.

Zion Johnson, G, Boston College

After starting his college career at Davidson and garnering attention at right tackle, Johnson transferred to Boston College for his junior year. Johnson thrived in the ACC and earned all-conference honors each year culminating in a first-team All American selection in 2021. Versatility was his strong suit in college and a point of pride as he spent time at both tackle spots and guard, but he is best suited to play inside at the next level. Johnson showed off his explosiveness at the combine, posting an RAS of 9.74. That athleticism in combination with his 34-inch arms gives him an advantage with his first punch. He is likely a scheme-dependent player due to his struggles in space but has the ceiling to be a starting guard.


Poll

Who will the Patriots select at no. 21?

This poll is closed

  • 40%
    Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson
    (143 votes)
  • 36%
    Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
    (130 votes)
  • 22%
    Zion Johnson, G, Boston College
    (81 votes)
354 votes total Vote Now

The Patriots have opted to fill their current roster holes through the draft and have their choice of a few highly talented players at 21. Check back tomorrow to see how they fill the holes left by free agency. Be sure to vote here and on Twitter (@acmepackingco) and come back tomorrow as the Packers are finally on the clock followed by the Arizona Cardinals.