The New England Patriots still have some business to take care of this season, but it's never too early to start thinking about the NFL Draft.
Bill Belichick and Co. started a new era in Foxboro when they selected quarterback Mac Jones in the first round of last year's draft. Defensive tackle Christian Barmore and running back Rhamondre Stevenson -- selected in the second and fourth rounds, respectively -- also have made a significant impact in their rookie campaigns.
So, which names in the 2022 NFL Draft class should Pats fans keep tabs on? ESPN NFL Draft analyst Jordan Reid has a few players in mind, and he revealed them in the latest Next Pats Podcast with Phil Perry.
"As far as some players who I think just scream New England Patriots, I actually had one in my latest mock draft back in the middle of November, and his name is Devin Lloyd," Reid said. "He's a linebacker from Utah, and he actually started off his career as a safety. But as he continued to get older, he transitioned to linebacker. He's actually playing Mike. I think he's probably going to be a Sam or a Will at the next level.
"But Devin Lloyd, he's a player if you go back and watch the Pac-12 championship game against Oregon, he was all over the field. If they have interest in addressing linebacker early, I think Devin Lloyd from Utah is one name to keep an eye on."
Reid also mentions two Alabama standouts who, like Barmore, could fit in well with the Patriots' defense.
"The first, he's an interior defensive lineman and his name is Phidarian Mathis," Reid said. "He's one of the more experienced players along the Alabama defensive front. He's not going to go as high as Barmore, I think he'll end up being a third or fourth-round draft pick, but if you're looking for a player that I think can come in and be a Day 1 starter as far as that nose tackle or that A-Gap plugger that Bill Belichick has sought in years past whether it's Vince Wilfork or some of the other players that he has had in years past, I definitely think Phidarian Mathis could be one.
"Another is Jordan Battle. He's a safety that is very battle-tested for a lack of better words. He's a versatile player on the back end. He's really played his best ball down the back stretch of the year. He had an interception, a pick-six, against Mississippi State and then he had another one in the SEC Championship game in that big victory over Georgia. So, Jordan Battle definitely could be another player that I think could be on the Patriots' radar."
Also discussed in this episode: Perry on what we’ve learned from the Patriots in the last two weeks. Can the Patriots find help at cornerback in the second half of the draft? And would you rather build around Mac Jones or Trevor Lawrence?