Mel Kiper wonders if Pats will trade up for one of these draft prospects


Bill Belichick isn't usually known for aggressively pursuing players in the NFL Draft. In fact, the New England Patriots head coach has often taken the opposite approach of trading back and stocking up on later picks.

Will this year be different? The Patriots currently own the No. 21 overall selection with some intriguing prospects projected to be picked in the middle of the first round. If one of them slips a few spots, Belichick will have to consider trading up.

Perry: Prototypical Patriots cornerbacks in 2022 NFL Draft class

On a new episode of the Next Pats Podcast with Phil Perry, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. wonders whether the Patriots could trade up to select Derek Stingley Jr. The LSU cornerback would provide an immediate boost to New England's thin secondary, though he's unlikely to fall all the way to No. 21.

Next Pats Podcast: Mel Kiper Jr wonders if Patriots will trade up for Derek Stingley or Jameson Williams | Listen & Follow | Watch on YouTube

"Stingley Jr., I can't see it. I can't see him getting to 21," Kiper said. "Some have projected him as low as 24 to Dallas, I have him at 12 and I don't even feel good about that. I think he should go higher. Great football player. If you're concerned with the medical, the Lisfranc, medical staffs are going to have to debate and work through.

"But talent, people will say he didn't play that well, he was hurt in a COVID year. They were coming off a 2019 season where they went 15-0 and won a national title. Most of those players left, you had the coaching staff changing, you had a lot of things happening this year that were out of everyone's control, and Derek was banged up and legitimately hurt. So, I don't know how you hold that against him. So yeah, if he starts slipping a bit, I gotta believe someone's moving up to get him."

Kiper added another prospect the Patriots and other teams could target if they slip in the first round.

"Jameson Williams, the wide receiver from Alabama, very similar," Kiper said. "He had the injury. Great player prior to the ACL where they say he's ahead of schedule, could be back in October. If that's the case, you've got to go up and get him. So, Jameson Williams and Derek Stingley Jr. are going be fun to see who's aggressive and goes up to get them."

Also in the new episode: Kiper recalls his analysis of Tom Brady after Patriots drafted him in 2000. Which player in the draft would help the Patriots stop Josh Allen? Who Kiper thinks the Patriots should take with their first pick. And why have the Patriots struggled drafting WRs?

Check out the latest episode of the Next Pats Podcast on the NBC Sports Boston Podcast Network, or watch on YouTube below:

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