Patriots

"20 Under 25" New England Patriots Candidates for 2022

Patriots

The New England Patriots had a few lackluster draft classes in the second half of the 2010s, and it hurt the team's overall talent and depth in the final years of Tom Brady's career in Foxboro.

Luckily for the Patriots, the tide is turning.

The last three draft classes from 2019, 2020 and 2021 have yielded several quality players and even a few starters.

"20 Under 25" candidates for other teams: Celtics | Red Sox | Bruins | Revs

For example, those drafts have produced two good running backs in Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson, an impressive starting safety in Kyle Dugger, an offensive lineman with elite potential in Michael Onwenu, a strong pass rusher in Christian Barmore and, most importantly, a franchise quarterback in Mac Jones.

Not bad, right?

These players and several others made it onto our list "20 Under 25" candidates for 2022. Below, you'll find the 12 Patriots players on the ballot this year followed by a form to cast your vote.

N'Keal Harry

LAST YEAR: 34 | RATING: 67.8

Harry requested a trade in the offseason, but the team decided to keep the 2019 first-round draft pick and try to make it work. The former Arizona State star still hasn't developed into a reliable pass-catcher -- six receptions in six games -- but his blocking in the run game has been impressive. There's still time for Harry to be a contributor in the Patriots passing attack, but time is running out.

Jake Bailey

Bailey was a fifth-round pick of the Patriots in 2019 and quickly developed into the league's best punter. He earned first team All-Pro honors last season with a league-leading 46.5 net yards per punt, which also set a Patriots single-season record. He also owns the team record for the most punts inside the 20-yard line with 36 in 2019. 

 

The Patriots put a huge emphasis on special teams, and Bailey is one of the primary reasons why this unit has enjoyed so much success since he arrived in New England.

Damien Harris

LAST YEAR: 6 | RATING: 85.08

Harris has tallied a team-leading 547 rushing yards with a career-high seven rushing touchdowns in nine games this season, establishing himself as a top 15 running back. One area where Harris has shown plenty of improvement during his third season is consistency. He has scored a touchdown in each of his last five games -- six total during that span -- along with three 100-yard games. The Patriots are in great shape at running back with two talented young players in Harris and Stevenson atop the depth chart.

Devin Asiasi

LAST YEAR: 43 | RATING: 63.8

Asiasi failed to make much of an impact as a pass-catching tight end as a rookie last season, tallying just two receptions for 39 yards and a touchdown. The 2020 third-round draft pick made his season debut in Sunday's win over the Cleveland Browns. Carving out a role on a team with two talented veteran tight ends in Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry will be hard for Asiasi, but it's still a little early to label him a draft bust.

Michael Onwenu

LAST YEAR: 8 | RATING: 82.84

Onwenu was one of the league's most talented rookies at any position last season and he's built on that success during his second year. Pro Football Focus has given him a grade of 88.8 through 10 games -- the highest mark on the team. Onwenu's ability to succeed at several different positions along the offensive line should make him a staple of that unit for many years.

Josh Uche

LAST YEAR: 14 | RATING: 75.07

The Patriots need a few young linebackers to step up and eventually replace veterans such as Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins and Dont'a Hightower. Uche could be part of that next wave. The athletic linebacker from Michigan has already tripled his sack total from his rookie season. Uche has the potential to be an effective pass rusher for a long time.

Shaun Wade

LAST YEAR: N/A

Wade was a productive cornerback for Ohio State over the last three seasons and was a 2021 fifth-round pick of the Ravens, who traded him to the Patriots in August. Wade has not yet played for the Patriots this season, but his debut could come soon with the team lacking ideal depth at cornerback following the Stephon Gilmore trade and Jonathan Jones' season-ending injury.

Wade has plenty of potential. He was a first-round caliber prospect after his second season with the Buckeyes, but an up-and-down final season in Columbus hurt his draft stock.

J.J. Taylor

LAST YEAR: N/A

Taylor has played in five games this season, scoring two touchdowns on 19 carries. His lack of snaps has more to do with the Patriots having lots of depth at running back and not because Taylor is lacking talent. Taylor has shown plenty of promise in his brief action with the Patriots over the last two years. He has a bright future as a powerful, shifty running back capable of making defenders miss. Taylor averaged an impressive 4.8 yards per carry in his six appearances as a rookie in 2020.

 

Rhamondre Stevenson

LAST YEAR: N/A

Stevenson has the potential to be a quality starting running back at the NFL level, and his best performance of the season came in a Week 10 win over the Browns. The Oklahoma product ran for a career-high 100 yards and two touchdowns. His powerful running style makes him difficult to bring down, and this strength also helps him at the goal line. Stevenson and Damien Harris could form a fantastic 1-2 punch in the Patriots backfield for a long time.

Mac Jones

LAST YEAR: N/A

The Patriots took Jones with the 15th pick in the first round of the 2021 draft, and it looks like a bigger and bigger steal with each passing week.

Jones has been the best rookie quarterback in the league this season and it's not even close. His best performance came in Sunday's win over the Browns when he completed 19 of 23 passes for 198 yards and three touchdowns. His accuracy has been fantastic, evidenced by his 69.0 completion percentage that ranks fourth among all quarterbacks.

The Patriots have found their franchise QB.

Ronnie Perkins

LAST YEAR: N/A

Perkins has not been active for a game in 2021, but the rookie defensive end showed plenty of promise at the University of Oklahoma as a quality pass rusher. He tallied 16.5 sacks over three seasons with Oklahoma, and the Patriots selected him in the third round of the last draft. Perkins' time to shine with the Patriots will come eventually.

Christian Barmore

LAST YEAR: N/A

Barmore has become one of the biggest steals from the 2021 NFL Draft. He was a first-round talent entering the draft but fell to the second round, where the Patriots were eager to trade up and select him with the No. 38 overall pick.

Barmore, among all defensive linemen, ranks eighth in total pressure (31), 11th in pass rush win percentage (14.9), ninth in pressure percentage (11.6) and eighth in pass rush productivity (6.0), per Pro Football Focus. That's pretty good for a rookie.

The Patriots need a new generation to step up and lead the defense as impact players, and Barmore is poised to be part of this group.