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Patriots Got Faster Through NFL Draft, But Did They Do Enough On Defense?

BOSTON (CBS) -- The 2022 NFL Draft has come and gone, and like a fever dream, people are trying to figure out what Bill Belichick was up to over the NFL's three-day extravaganza.

New England ended up making 10 selections in the draft, and the majority of them were massive reaches that would make anyone's back ache. After trading back in the first round, the Patriots drafted guard Cole Strange out The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with the 29th overall pick. He was seen by most as a second-round selection -- at best.

Then on Day 2, the Patriots kicked things off by traded up four spots to take speedster wide receiver Tyquan Thornton at No. 50. He too was expected to go much later in the draft.

The Patriots did address their need at cornerback, taking slot corner/return man Marcus Jones out of Houston in the third round and Jack Jones out of Arizona State in the fourth round, but they did not draft a single linebacker over the weekend. They put a good amount of focus on the offensive side of the ball, taking a quarterback (Bailey Zappe), two running backs, a receiver and three linemen overall.

ESPN Boston's Mike Reiss joined WBZ-TV Sports Director Steve Burton for Sunday night's Sports Final to break down the draft, and is little worried about New England's approach over the weekend.

"They did not address all their needs," said Reiss. "Defense remains a concern. The linebacker position."

Reiss does note that the Patriots still have high hopes for Cameron McGrone, a 2021 fifth-round pick who missed his rookie season with a torn ACL, and the recently acquired Mack Wilson at linebacker. But he really would have liked for New England to have added to the position at the draft.

The Patriots certainly got faster with Thornton, who ran a 4.28 40 at the NFL Draft Combine, and running back Pierre Strong Jr. out of South Dakota State in the fourth round.  Burton likes what the Patriots did on offense, saying that "speed changes the game."

But Reiss says with 10 picks, the Patriots are going to need to get three starters out of that mix to classify it as a "good draft." He's not sure if that was the case.

Strange will start from Day 1, and he does provide insurance elsewhere on the offensive line.

"He reminds me of Logan Mankins. The Patriots were picking 32nd overall for Mankins, and people were saying they had him in the second or third round," said Reiss. "I'm not saying Cole Strange is gong to becoming Logan Mankins, but that is his playing style. I think you put him right in at left guard and he is going to start from Day 1. He'll provide you with insurance at center with Andrews coming off shoulder surgery. It's a safe pick, even if people say he wasn't in their mock draft. But he was going in the second round from what people around the league tell me.

"Cole Strange, lock him as one [starter]. Thornton, they haven't had a great history at receiver. They have to hit on him," added Reiss. "That is the key of the draft. You have to hit on the speed receiver."

As for the cornerbacks selected, Reiss does see a fit in the secondary.

"Marcus Jones in the third round was a guy a lot of people were talking about that fits them perfectly. He's also a great returner. But he's really going to match up against your Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle down in Miami. That, to me, was the approach the Patriots were taking; they know they have fast receivers in Miami and Buffalo is going to spread the field," said Reiss. "They need more sticky defensive backs. Smaller guys -- like Jack Jones in the fourth round out of Arizona State -- who can move and have good reactive athleticism. They're good, but I didn't see a linebacker. That is one thing that concerns me."

Burton and Reiss also discusses drafting Bailey Zappe and what that means for the quarterback depth chart. Catch his full thoughts on the 2022 Patriots draft class in the video above.

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