Mel Kiper’s first 2022 mock draft has the Patriots picking a wide receiver

"What stuck out to me as I watched the Patriots, though, was their lack of playmakers in the passing game."

Jameson Williams
Jameson Williams during the 2021 Cotton Bowl. AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth

One of the clearest signs of the impending NFL offseason has arrived: Mel Kiper Jr. has published his first official mock draft.

The veteran ESPN draft analyst dropped his initial predictions for the 2022 NFL Draft, including who he thinks the Patriots will select with the 21st overall pick.

For New England, Kiper sees a glaring need.

“What stuck out to me as I watched the Patriots, though, was their lack of playmakers in the passing game,” he wrote.

It’s become a familiar refrain for those assessing the Patriots’ offseason priorities. Multiple NFL analysts have already forecasted that Bill Belichick will try to add more talent in the offense around quarterback Mac Jones.


“If they can get a deep threat for Jones here, they should be thrilled,” Kiper noted.

The player Kiper thinks the Patriots will select is Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams, who he describes as having “blazing speed.”

One aspect of Williams’s current situation is that he tore his ACL in the recent national title game loss to Georgia. Still, as NFL reporter Adam Schefter explained, Williams is expected to make a “full recovery.”

Kiper thinks that Williams will fall slightly in the draft because of his injury, but that it shouldn’t deter New England with the 21st pick.

“He would likely be in the top-10 range if he didn’t tear his ACL in the national title game, which means he might not be ready for training camp,” Kiper explained. “Still, I don’t think he’s going to fall too far, because he’s a true No. 1 wideout when he’s healthy. This is good value for New England.”

The draft doesn’t get started until April 28, and free agency—which will begin in March—will undoubtedly play a role in further shifting around teams’ needs and what Kiper and other analysts project will take place.


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