The Patriots are coming off a playoff appearance in a year where they were not expected to do much considering their situation with a rookie QB. That said, with major improvements made in free agency prior to 2021, they were still able to have some success. Going into 2022, they did lose some key veterans but with a leap from their young QB, they could be right back in the playoffs.
QB: Mac Jones, Brian Hoyer, Bailey Zappe
This group is headed by Mac Jones, who finished the season as the best of the rookie QBs. He will go into year 2 expecting more of the same play from last season. The group is rounded out by veteran Brian Hoyer and rookie Bailey Zappe. The grade could certainly be better if there is an improvement from Jones and if he grows into a top 10 caliber QB, which he is not right now.
RB: Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson, Pierre Strong Jr, James White, JJ Taylor, Kevin Harris
These backs made up a very solid rushing attack last season, and return many key players, including their two top rushers in Harris and Stevenson. They also drafted rookie Pierre Strong Jr, who will add to the impressive depth of the group. We should expect more of the same from this platoon in 2022.
WR: Kendrick Bourne, DeVante Parker, Nelson Agholor, Jakobi Myers, N’Keal Harry, Ty Montgomery, Tyquan Thorton, Trey Nixon, Malcolm Perry, Kristian Wilkerson,
After the makeover of the receiving core last offseason, New England made a couple of more improvements. Bourne surprised many last year, as he heads a wide receiver group of DeVante Parker, Nelson Agholor, and Jakobi Myers. This group has depth across the board, but it lacks the star power to give the offense dynamic playmakers.
TE: Hunter Henry, Johnu Smith, Devin Asiasi, Dalton Keene, Matt Sokol
Perhaps the strongest group on the team, New England made Henry and Smith the highest-paid duo in the league. Smith was pretty underutilized but is very talented, while Henry was very productive last season and gave Mac Jones a great safety blanket.
OL: Isaiah Wynn, Mike Onwenu, David Andrews, Cole Strange, Trent Brown, Andrew Steuber, Will Sherman, Justin Herron, Chasen Hines, James Ferentz, Yodny Cajuste, Arlington Hambright, Drew Desjarlais, Yasir Durany
The loss of Shaq Mason makes this group a bit thinner and although they are aging, the Patriots still return a group of solid veterans. Much to the surprise of many, they also added Cole Strange in the first round of the draft. Between the unknown of Strange and the lack of depth, the group is a bit worse compared to past years.
DL: Matthew Judon, Lawrence Guy, Christian Barmore, Deatrich Wise Jr, Henry Anderson, Josh Uche, Davon Godchaux, Ronnie Perkins, Daniel Ekuale, Byron Cowart, Carl Davis, Sam Roberts, Bill Murray, Ray LaBryan, DaMarcus Mitchell
Judon leads this group, as he grew into a star pass rusher last season. They are also strong along the interior between Guy, Barmore, and Wise. They will need to find pass rush production outside of Judon, which is why they are not higher but are a deep and productive group.
LB: Ja’Whaun Bentley, Mack Wilson, Cameron McGrone, Anfernee Jennings, Jahlani Tavai, Raekwon McMillan, Harvey Langi
This may be the team’s weakest unit, as the Patriots will be playing without a group of veteran LBs headed by Dont’a Hightower. That said, Ju’Whaun Bentley was solid last year in his second year as a starter. After Bentley the group has potential but is overall inexperienced.
CB: Jalen Mills, Jonathan Jones, Malcolm Butler, Marcus Jones, Jack Jones, Terrance Mitchell, Joejuan Williams, Myles Bryant, Shaun Wade, Justin Bethel
Going into last season, this was one of the best groups in the entire league, if not the best, as they were led by a duo of Stephon Gilmore and JC Jackson. However, after losing both via trade and free agency, the group is left with Jalen Mills, who started every game last season, and an aging Malcolm Butler. The group also has some versatile options in Jonathan and Marcus Jones, but overall is relatively unproven and much worse than last year.
S: Devin McCourty, Adrian Phillips, Kyle Dugger, Jabrill Peppers, Joshua Bledsoe, Cody Davis, Brenden Schooler
The strongest position group on the defense, these safeties are both talented and have depth. McCourty is old but his play remains at a high level, and between Phillips, Dugger, and Peppers, any of them could be quality starters in the league.