Patriots

Star linebacker, Alabama duo highlight Patriots’ picks in new ESPN 7-round mock draft

ESPN's Jordan Reid is the latest expert to tab Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd as a good fit for the Patriots at No. 21.

Devin Lloyd Patriots
Utah Utes linebacker Devin Lloyd. AP Photo/Tyler Tate
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The 2022 NFL Draft is just over two weeks away, which means the final iterations of everyone’s mock drafts are inbound. A few new developments might bode well for the Patriots.

Based on multiple recent mock drafts from the likes of NFL Network’s Peter Schrager and now ESPN’s Jordan Reid, quarterback prospects Malik Willis and Kenny Pickett are getting some top-10 buzz as the draft approaches, despite initial hesitance about the draft’s talent at the position.

Even if just those two quarterbacks end up going before the Patriots pick at No. 21, a few very good players could get pushed down to New England’s draft slot.

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Reid’s latest mock, released Monday morning, has one of the draft’s best linebackers, Utah’s Devin Lloyd, sliding to what would probably be an all-too-happy New England squad.

In this scenario, the Patriots see the temptation to select electric receiver Jameson Williams and fast-rising guard Zion Johnson taken out of their hands with the previous two picks and elect to grab the best player left in Lloyd, who also fills a major need for talent at off-ball linebacker.

Another intriguing thing about the Utah star: he can potentially start on Day 1 at inside linebacker and can even cover some of the holes at outside linebacker as needed.

For those hoping for an early wide receiver pick, don’t fret: New England still gets a dynamic pass-catcher for arguably a better value in Round 2 by selecting John Metchie, Mac Jones’s former Alabama teammate.

With Metchie supposedly on track for training camp, it’s hard to ignore the all-around skill set the Crimson Tide star brings as a blocker and route-runner at all three levels of the offense, not to mention the obvious rapport he had with Jones in college.

He might not have his teammate Williams’s game-breaking speed, but he’s got just about everything else the Patriots would want in a receiver if healthy.

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But Reid suggests one Alabama standout isn’t enough for Belichick this time around, with cornerback Jayln Armour-Davis coming to Foxborough with the No. 85 pick.

The young cornerback had to work his way into a starting job with the Tide, finally breaking through as a junior. But he still displays the classic discipline and strong technique you’d expect from a Nick Saban-coached defensive back. Armour-Davis can play whatever man or zone scheme the Patriots ask of him, and he’s also proven himself as a special teamer in college.

To round out this well-rounded top-four, the Patriots address their future offensive line uncertainty by taking North Carolina’s Joshua Ezeudu in the fourth round.

Ezeudu seemingly fits the bill of a mid-round Patriots offensive lineman perfectly. Though his size (6-foot-4, 308 pounds) is mostly average, he has excellent length and plays to the echo of the whistle, especially in the run game. Though he’s listed as a tackle and could be an interesting prospect there with his long arms and ability to move in short bursts, he might also project well as a guard down the line.

To finish things up, Reid has the Patriots taking Miami (Ohio) safety Sterling Weatherford and San Diego State tight end Daniel Bellinger in the fifth round and grabbing defensive end Esezi Otomewo (Minnesota) and Jaivon Heiligh (Coastal Carolina) in the sixth.

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