The New England Patriots made some selections that might not be everyone’s cup of tea in the first and second rounds of the 2022 NFL Draft. Taking an FCS lineman in Cole Strange and a wide receiver in Tyquan Thornton that many expected to go later means that Bill Belichick isn’t receiving rave reviews.
New England waited longer than most anticipated to address the cornerback spot. With JC Jackson now a Los Angeles Charger, the Patriots needed to make a move to replace him. After two shocker picks, the Patriots selected someone that could become a quality NFL player if he overcomes his size concerns.
The Pats addressed that issue by using the No. 85 overall pick on Houston cornerback Marcus Jones. While he is undersized, that diminutive frame hides one of the most feisty styles of play in this draft. That style of play is going to fit in well with Belichick’s culture.
Senior Bowl director Jim Nagy compared Jones to former Patriots wide receiver Troy Brown, who famously saw emergency reps at cornerback due to injuries. Considering all of the roles that Brown played in his Patriots career, drafting someone in that same athletic tier might make sense for New England.
The New England Patriots drafted Marcus Jones in the third round.
Jones’ size is a red flag, as he is 5-8 and 174 pounds. That frame is going to be problematic in the pros. A shoulder injury in college is not ideal either. Even with those concerns, Belichick will love the fact that he is a master technician with insanely good ball skills and a non-stop motor.
Jones, who has seen reps at wide receiver and returner in college, is a top-shelf athlete with some of the best acceleration in the draft. With the long speed to stay with receivers deep down the field and elite turnover creation, Jones will find some way to get on the field as a rookie.
As a rookie, look for Jones to get work inside. As good as Myles Bryant was last year, the Patriots decided to upgrade by selecting a solid athlete in Jones. A 5-8 cornerback from Houston being the “safest” pick of the night for New England is odd, but not unprecedented.
Belichick letting Jackson go was rooted, in part, by the belief that he could mold another standout corner out of a player that didn’t have the best physical frame. If Jackson can become an All-Pro, the odds of Jones eventually becoming a plus starter and returner are looking up.