The Patriots’ 2022 draft class is looking like a complete disaster

Patriots

More than half of New England’s 2022 draft class has either been cut or traded.

Jack Jones #13 of the New England Patriots reacts during a game against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium on October 22, 2023 in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
Jack Jones was cut by the Patriots on Monday afternoon. Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)

COMMENTARY

The Patriots’ decision to release cornerback Jack Jones on Monday marks a disappointing end to a promising defensive back’s tenure in Foxborough amid a dip in performance, reported rules violations, and legal woes. 

It also stands as the latest indictment that the Patriots’ 2022 draft class is shaping up to be a complete disaster for a team in desperate need of internal talent and affordable assets.

New England’s putrid 2-8 start to the 2023 season is the byproduct of several failings from the organization that have been building for years. One can point the finger at a string of devastating injuries, Mac Jones’ regression, Bill Belichick’s roster construction, a coaching carousel, and much more.

But extended stretches of poor drafting by Belichick and his staff for years have stunted New England’s ability to replenish this roster with key contributors.

These whiffs have been taking place since the final years of Tom Brady’s tenure in Foxborough — with names like Isaiah Wynn, N’Keal Harry, Jordan Richards, Cyrus Jones, Duke Dawson, Tyquan Thronton, Joejuan Williams, Chase Winovich, Devin Asiasi, and Dalton Keene drawing groans from Patriots fans expecting impact players through the draft.

But with Jack Jones now cut from the roster, New England’s 2022 draft class is starting to separate itself from an already lackluster pack of poor draft selections by Belichick.

In total, the Patriots selected 10 players during the 2022 NFL Draft, with Belichick and Co. looking to further bolster a New England team coming off a 10-7 season, playoff appearance, and a Pro-Bowl campaign from rookie QB Mac Jones.

But much like Mac Jones’ own career trajectory in New England, it hasn’t taken very long for the Patriots’ 2022 draft class’ value to plummet — with more than half of those 10 players either cut or traded from the active roster.

In the wake of Jack Jones’ release, here’s a quick rundown of New England’s 2022 draft selections and where they stand just a year and a half into their respective NFL careers.

Round 1, Pick 29: G Cole Strange

Belichick and the Patriots caught some flak for taking Strange in the first round in 2022, with an AFC executive telling The Boston Globe’s Ben Volin that they expected the Chattanooga guard to go in Rounds 2-4. 

Strange improved as his rookie season continued in 2022, offering up hope that an interior grouping of him, Mike Onwenu (right guard), and veteran David Andrews (center) could help keep the pocket clean for Jones for years to come.

The 2023 season has been more of a struggle for Strange, who was injured during training camp and has not been able to find consistency in his game. According to Pro Football Focus, Strange ranks 42nd among 82 qualified guards so far this year. 

Round 2, Pick 50: WR Tyquan Thornton 

The Patriots hoped that a speedster like Thornton out of Baylor would give New England a much-needed vertical threat on offense.

Be it injuries or his lapses in execution, Thornton is looking more and more like a complete bust on a Patriots roster currently experiencing a dearth of proven playmakers.

After reeling in just 22 catches for 247 yards in 2022, Thornton has only caught three passes for 15 total yards this season.

The wideout opened the year on injured reserve due to a shoulder ailment but has now played in 15 total snaps over his last four weeks. Even with players like Kendrick Bourne and DeVante Parker sidelined due to injury, Thornton did not play a single snap despite being active against the Colts in Germany.

Round 3, Pick 85: CB Marcus Jones

Hope remains that Jones can develop into an impact player for New England in the years to come.

The cornerback out of Houston took home All-Pro honors as a punt returner last season as a rookie, helping New England orchestrate a dramatic walk-off victory over the Jets on Nov. 20. The versatile defensive back also recorded two interceptions last season and reeled in a receiving touchdown from Mac Jones on Dec. 1, 2022.

But Jones went down in Week 2 against the Dolphins due to a torn labrum that ended his sophomore campaign early.

Round 4, Pick No. 121: CB Jack Jones

Cut by the Patriots on Monday after playing just 18 total games in New England. Showed flashes of being a dynamic ball-hawk corner as a rookie (two interceptions), but quickly drew the ire of the Patriots’ coaching staff due to his dip in play and reported attitude issues.

Round 4, Pick No. 127: RB Pierre Strong Jr. 

The shifty running back out of South Dakota State was traded before the start of the 2023 season for OT Tyrone Wheatley Jr.. Wheatley is currently on injured reserve for New England, while Strong has recorded 34 carries for 152 rushing yards and one score with the Browns. He also recorded two catches for 34 yards through the air in Cleveland.

Round 4, Pick No. 137: QB Bailey Zappe

It sure feels like a long time ago that “Zappe Fever” took hold in New England.

The case could be made that Zappe warrants a start over Mac Jones at this stage of the 2023 season. But there’s little evidence that Zappe is an effective NFL QB in his own right.

New England opted to cut Zappe following 2023 training camp before eventually signing with the practice squad. He’s rejoined New England’s active roster since then, but has only completed 10 of his 25 passing attempts this season for 104 yards and an interception.

Round 6, Pick No. 183: RB Kevin Harris 

Recorded just 18 carries for 52 yards and one touchdown in a reserve role with the Patriots in 2022. Was cut at the end of 2023 training camp and has been on New England’s practice squad so far this season.

Round 6, Pick No. 200: DL Sam Roberts

Roberts has appeared in 11 total games with the Patriots, but has served as more of a depth option on the D-line and a special-teams contributor. He’s landed on New England’s inactive list four times this season, including the last two games against the Commanders and Colts.

Round 6, Pick No. 210: OL Chasen Hines

After not playing a snap as a rookie in 2022, Hines was cut by the Patriots before the start of the 2023 season. Hines is currently on the Miami Dolphins’ practice squad.

Round 7, Pick No. 245: OL Andrew Stueber

Much like Hines, Stueber was cut by the Patriots before the start of the 2023 season after not playing a snap as a rookie. Stueber is currently on New England’s practice squad.


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