FOXBORO -- The Patriots have needed an influx of youth for years. The 2022 NFL Draft was a golden opportunity for Bill Belichick and company to bring in a new generation of Patriots players to help stabilize the franchise.
But they missed. And missed. And missed again. Boy did they miss.
New England made 10 selections that draft, and hitting on even just half of them would have made a major impact on the future of the franchise. Instead, less than two years removed from making those picks, it's been one bust after another.
The draft class took another huge hit on Monday, with cornerback Jack Jones reportedly getting cut after spending time in Belichick's doghouse and pouting on the bench the last two weeks. So you can go ahead and add another to New England's "miss" list in terms of drafting. That list is getting pretty crowded.
Of those 10 players drafted, only one -- Marcus Jones -- seems to have the potential to make an impact with the Patriots. Other than that though, New England's 2022 draft class looks worse and worse by the week.
First Round, 29th overall: Cole Strange
No one understood this pick when the Patriots made it. It even.
Only Bill Belichick would draft an offensive lineman out of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga on Day 1 of the draft. Strange was projected as maybe a late pick on Day 2.
Surprisingly, he hasn't lived up to his draft spot, either. Strange has missed time with injury and been benched in the middle of games for looking more like a turnstile.
Second Round, 50th overall: Tyquan Thornton
The Patriots desperately needed a young receiver, and there was at least some upside to this pick. But Thornton's success at Baylor has not translated to the NFL level, and he's spent more time injured than on the field. And when he's been on the field, he hasn't made many plays for New England.
To make matters worse, George Pickens went two picks later and he's been tearing it up for the Steelers. Pittsburgh is a wide receiver factory, but it's clear that Pickens has what it takes to make plays in the NFL. The same cannot be said about Thornton.
Third Round, 85th overall: Marcus Jones
The Patriots may have something with this Jones (they were bound to hit on one of them, right?), who has shined on special teams as an explosive return man. He was an All-Pro as a rookie, and had the play of the year when he lifted the Pats to a Week 11 win over the Jets with an 84-yard punt return touchdown with five seconds left. It was the only touchdown scored that afternoon.
The Pats have even worked Jones into the mix on offense, and it paid off immediately: On the first offensive snap of his career, Jones turned a short pass into a 48-yard touchdown in a loss against the Bills.
Jones was drafted as a corner, and he scored a defensive touchdown as a rookie too, returning a 69-yard pick-six against the Bengals. He's a bit undersized for the secondary, but he's not a bad depth piece on defense. And his contributions on special teams make him the best pick of the 2022 NFL Draft by New England.
Fourth-Round, 125th overall: Jack Jones
His draft stock plummeted because of off-the-field issues at UCS and Arizona State, and those off-the-field issues followed him to the NFL. Jones had a pair of picks as a rookie, including an awesome pick-six off Aaron Rogers, but he was suspended late in the year while he was rehabbing an injury.
All seemed to be going well with Jones heading into his second NFL season -- until he was arrested at Logan Airport with two loaded guns and ammunition in his carry-on. Charges were dropped when Jones reached a plea deal, but it wasn't a great start to what was supposed to be a big year for Jones.
Then he started the season on IR, returned in Week 7, and was benched a few weeks later for missing curfew and a team meeting. He was benched again for the start of Sunday's game in Germany, and now he's off the team.
The Patriots took a risk on Jones, taking a player with a ton of upside on Day 3. Had Jones bought in and just played football, he would have been one of the biggest steals of the draft. But that's not how it played out, and the Patriots had to boot him off the team less than two years into his career.
Fourth round, 127th overall: Pierre Strong Jr.
The running back out of South Dakota State barely saw the field during his rookie season, playing just 51 offensive snaps over 15 games. He did score a touchdown in a Week 14 win over the Cardinals, but played mostly on special teams.
Desperate for offensive line help, the Pats traded Strong to the Browns ahead of the 2023 season for Tyrone Wheatley Jr. Strong has rushed for 152 yards and a touchdown in nine games for Cleveland this season.
Fourth Round, 137th overall: Bailey Zappe
Though he gave the team a little spark in three of his four appearances in place of an injured or ineffective Mac Jones as a rookie, the Patriots weren't sold on Zappe heading into the 2023 season. He was cut ahead of the season but went unclaimed, and landed back in New England on the practice squad. He's since been signed to the roster, but the Pats have been doing anything they can to seemingly replace him as their No. 2 option at quarterback.
And now with Jones' latest benching, Zappe could be the team's starting quarterback again. Wild.
Sixth Round, 183rd overall: Kevin Harris
The second of two running backs the Pats drafted in 2022, Harris played in five games as a rookie. He averaged just 2.9 yards on his 18 carries and was cut ahead of his second season. He's now on the practice squad.
Sixth Round, 200th overall: Sam Roberts
The defensive tackle out of Northwest Missouri State is still on the team, but plays sparingly.
Sixth Round, 210th overall: Chasen Hines
The guard out of LSU spent his rookie season on IR and was released before his second season. He's now on the Dolphins practice squad.
Seventh Round, 245th overall: Andrew Stueber
The offensive lineman out of Michigan is on the New England practice squad.
You can excuse the Patriots for missing on players after the sixth round. Yes, they drafted the greatest quarterback to ever sling a football in the sixth round, but that happens once in a lifetime.
But missing on a first-round pick, then a second-round pick, and a pair of fourth-round picks -- all in the same year -- is the kind of drafting that will set a franchise back. For a franchise that has been looking toward the future the last few years, it could take a while for the Patriots to overcome their poor drafting in 2022.
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