The New England Patriots may be lacking in just one department — a true No. 1 wide receiver.
The Patriots are doing just fine without a playmaker at wide receiver with a current record of 9-4 during the regular season. However, it remains to be seen how successful New England will be in the postseason as defenses tighten up and games become closer — when the need for an offensive playmaker becomes more evident.
If the Patriots do falter in the postseason, it’ll likely be due to the passing game stagnating due to the lack of a true go-to receiver.
According to Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox, the Patriots will fix that flaw in the upcoming 2022 NFL Draft by selecting another University of Alabama product in the first round, wide receiver Jameson Williams.
The New England Patriots have gotten a tremendous inaugural campaign out of quarterback Mac Jones thus far,” says Knox. “Jones has played smart, efficient football—he has a passer rating of 97.0—and he’s helped raise the level of New England’s patchwork receiving corps.
The Patriots rank sixth in yards per pass attempt.
While receivers Jakobi Meyers, Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne have been more than serviceable this year, the Patriots still lack a go-to No. 1 receiver. Targeting Jameson Williams could help change that.
Williams, the 19th-ranked prospect on Bleacher Report’s draft board, has legitimate No. 1 receiver potential. With a long (6’2″, 189 lbs) frame and plenty of quickness, Williams has shined as the Crimson Tide’s latest big-play pass-catcher.
In 13 games this season, Williams has caught 68 passes for 1,445 yards and 15 touchdowns. The Patriots should be willing to trade up to get him.
Patriots Would Need to Move up to Draft Williams
Williams initially began his career at Ohio State, catching just 15 passes for 266 yards and three touchdowns in two seasons with the Buckeyes. It wasn’t until after transferring to Alabama for his junior campaign that Williams truly broke out.
In a recent mock draft by CBS Sports’ Josh Edwards, the Fred Biletnikoff award finalist was projected to be drafted No. 13 overall in the first round. If that’s the case — as Knox mentions — the Patriots would need to trade up to move to the middle of the first round.
Considering the Patriots have done well using the Alabama pipeline with 2020 first-round draft selection Mac Jones, Bill Belichick may finally draft a future superstar wide receiver in the first round with Williams.
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Patriots’ Spending Splurge on Wide Receivers in 2021
New England went on a spending splurge in the offseason, dishing out a record-$163 million in guaranteed money in unrestricted free agency. Among the signings were veteran receivers Nelson Agholor (two years for $22 million) and Kendrick Bourne (three years, $15 million).
Bourne has been the better of the duo, posting 42 receptions to along with a team-leading 623 receiving yards and five touchdowns. Meanwhile, Agholor has been a little disappointing with just 32 catches for 416 yards and three touchdowns while catching just 58.2% of his targets — the lowest of any receiver on the team. In fact, that percentage ranks Agholor 180th of 207 qualifying players, according to Pro Football Reference.
The Patriots could find a way to move Agholor in the offseason. While Bourne has arguably been the best wide receiver on New England this year, the Patriots could easily cut ties with him if they chose to. There’s a potential out in his contract that would only cost New England $2.8 million in dead cap money by cutting him.
New England will have options this offseason. There are big-name wide receivers in the free agency market, including the Tampa Bay Buccaneers‘ Chris Godwin and the Green Bay Packers’ Davante Adams. The Patriots could either draft a franchise No. 1 receiver with a selection such as Williams or go the free agency route for an established star.