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2022 NFL mock draft: New England Patriots select Zion Johnson

In the latest installment of our Community Mock Draft, the New England Patriots have added an interior offensive lineman who will help protect the team’s young quarterback.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 04 Colgate at Boston College Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The New England Patriots are on the clock in the 2022 Pride of Detroit Community Mock Draft, and unfortunately for them, we didn’t allow trades. Sorry, Bill, there will be no trade downs here. You’ll have to make your pick and stick with it.

The Patriots seemed to do okay in Year 2 of the post-Tom Brady era last season. Rookie quarterback Mac Jones led the team to a respectable 10-7 record, but a first-round exit in the Wild Card round of the playoffs.

But now with Matt Patricia helping coach the offense among other random tasks around Foxborough, I’m sure they’re ready to take the next step.

For this exercise, it will be up to tjwGOblue to act as Patriots' general manager. Here’s a look at picks 1-20.

POD Community Mock Draft picks so far:

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
  2. Detroit Lions: Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia
  3. Houston Texans: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
  4. New York Jets: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
  5. New York Giants: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
  6. Carolina Panthers: Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State
  7. New York Giants: Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
  8. Atlanta Falcons: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
  9. Seattle Seahawks: Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
  10. New York Jets: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
  11. Washington Commanders: Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
  12. Minnesota Vikings: Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
  13. Houston Texans: Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
  14. Baltimore Ravens: Jermaine Johnson, EDGE, Florida State
  15. Philadelphia Eagles: Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia
  16. Philadelphia Eagles: Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
  17. Los Angeles Chargers: Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
  18. New Orleans Saints: Drake London, WR, USC
  19. Philadelphia Eagles: Daxton Hill, S, Michigan
  20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

With the 21st pick in the POD Community Mock, the New England Patriots have selected Zion Johnson, interior offensive lineman from Boston College.

Here’s tjwGOblue with the explanation:

The Patriots find themselves in an interesting position entering the 2022 season. Mac Jones has led the youth movement, and overall the offense was strong at home. Home being the keyword; their offense had the best offensive home DVOA but only ranked 26th while on the road.

Josh McDaniels is gone but I doubt the four-step offensive philosophy Bill Belichick has adhered to for 30+ years has: 1. Run ball; 2. Pick up blitz; 3. Pick up third downs; 4. Score. I’ll also encourage you to read Belichick’s explanation on the trend of poor offensive line play, albeit from five years ago.

That leads to the selection of Zion Johnson. The Patriots have a history of prioritizing linemen in the first round using five of their previous 10 on these positions. Johnson comes to Foxborough from nearby Boston College after a strong finish to his collegiate career. PFF graded him with an 84.4 overall for 2021 and noted his impressive performance at the Senior Bowl. It was in Mobile and the NFL Combine where he crushed interviews and talent evaluators noted his character. He also posted a 9.55 RAS score at the combine. All-ACC and All-American help round out his impressive collegiate resume.

A slightly nightmarish scenario has played out in this mock draft for the Patriots as they look to get more athletic on defense. It would not shock me if they field calls from a team looking to select a QB (Hey Titans, pick up the phone). Belichick might love trading back more than our own Fearless* Leader. Cornerback has been a trendy pick on mock drafts but the Patriots have been absurdly good at developing UDFAs recently, just ask Malcolm Butler, Jonathan Jones, and J.C. Jackson. Wide receiver seems unlikely as well as it is not a position that Belichick values in the first round historically. Linebacker remains a work in progress but solidifying and adding youth to the offensive line seemed prudent at this point.

Erik’s thoughts:

After losing Shaq Mason in free agency, Johnson makes for an easy plug-and-play replacement at right guard and arguably fills the most obvious hole on offense. But as is typically the case with Belichick, his choice is not always the most obvious.

I could see Belichick opt for Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum and shift him to guard, secure the services of Clemson corner Andrew Booth, or maybe even try their hand again at wide receiver with Alabama’s Jameson Williams or Arkansas’ Treylon Burks.

You can follow along with every pick + grades in our Community Mock Draft tracker.

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