Things aren’t looking good for Patriots’ 2022 draft class

The New England Patriots’ 2022 NFL draft class was full of promise after Year 1.

Fans saw a Day 1 starter in Cole Strange and saw promise in Pierre Strong Jr, Tyquan Thornton, Bailey Zappe and Jack Jones, while Marcus Jones was an All-Pro returner and spark plug for a dormant 2022 Patriots team.

The Patriots’ offensive draft picks were selected with a west coast zone offense in mind, which was one that the team tried to implement under Matt Patricia. There was hope that quarterback Mac Jones would thrive in a system like the one San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan perfected.

The issue was the Patriots lacked the personnel and coaching to actually do it. With only one outside runner like Strong Jr., one agile lineman in Strange and one deep threat in Thornton, the Patriots were relying on rookie players and a rookie offensive coordinator to try to implement a unique system.

Now that Bill O’Brien has returned as the offensive coordinator, the Patriots moved on from Strong for tackle depth, while also cutting 2022 picks Chasen Hines, Bailey Zappe, Andrew Stueber and Kevin Harris.

Harris, Stueber, and Zappe all returned to the practice squad.

Thornton, was placed on injured reserve after making the initial 53-man roster, meaning he will have now missed eight games in his first two seasons without showing much production. The Patriots drafted two receivers that fit their offensive mold better in 2023 with rookies Kayshon Boutte and Demario Douglas, both of whom have already flashed potential.

They are reportedly not happy with Zappe as their No. 2 quarterback, and they would like to find a new veteran backup that fits the offense more after Zappe’s abysmal summer under Bill O’Brien.

The team would still like to work with Zappe to develop parts of his game, but they have in essence moved on from the Year 2 quarterback who was pegged as the No. 2 option as early as Week 1 in 2022.

Strange has actually been really good, and he also added some power to play in the system. I believe the team likes him, and he could stick around long-term.

But things could be different for Thornton, who has now missed eight games in two years. Boutte and Douglas have already produced on the field, and if Thornton starts slow, there is a possibility the team could look to move him at the trade deadline, which would signify a change in their offensive philosophy.

In 2023, more evidence pointed to this as the Patriots went and drafted three lineman, who all fit a power system. Atonio Mafi is a Mike Onwenu clone, and Jake Andrews has a similar skill set to Ted Karras, while Sidy Sow resembles the depth tackles the Patriots typically like.

Those additions coupled with the ones in the receiver room prove that the Patriots offense has a developmental pipeline more aligned with O’Brien.

There is a chance by the end of the year that Strange, Marcus Jones, Jack Jones and Sam Roberts are the only players left from the class on the active roster. It’s a sudden and disappointing turnaround for a draft class that initially seemed full of promise.

Story originally appeared on Patriots Wire