The Patriots’ decision to release cornerback Jack Jones on Monday marks a disappointing end to a promising defenseman’s tenure in Foxborough amid a dip in performance, reported rule violations and legal troubles.
It also serves as the latest indictment that the Patriots’ 2022 draft class will be a complete disaster for a team in desperate need of internal talent and affordable assets.
New England’s putrid 2-8 start to the 2023 season is the byproduct of several shortcomings of the organization that has been building for years. You can point the finger at a series of devastating injuries, Mac Jones’ regression, Bill Belichick’s roster construction, a coaching carousel and much more.
But years of poor drafting from Belichick and his staff have hampered New England’s ability to replenish this roster with key contributors.
These scents have been happening since the final years of Tom Brady’s tenure in Foxborough – with names like Isaiah Wynn, N’Keal Harry, Jordan Richards, Cyrus Jones, Duke Dawson, Tyquan Thronton, Joejuan Williams, Chase Winovich, Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene Moans of Patriots fans expecting impact players through the draft.
But with Jack Jones cut from the roster, New England’s 2022 draft class is starting to stand out from an already mediocre pack of poor draft selections from Belichick.
In total, the Patriots selected 10 players during the 2022 NFL Draft, with Belichick and Co. wanted to further strengthen a New England team after a 10-7 season, playoff appearance and a Pro-Bowl campaign from rookie QB Mac Jones.
But much like Mac Jones’ own career trajectory in New England, it hasn’t taken long for the value of the Patriots’ 2022 draft class to plummet — with more than half of those 10 players either cut or traded from the active roster.
In the wake of Jack Jones’ release, here’s a quick look at New England’s 2022 draft selections and where they are just a year and a half into their respective NFL careers.
Round 1, pick 29: G Cole Strange
Belichick and the Patriots received some criticism for taking Strange in the 2022 first round, with an AFC executive telling The Boston Globes Ben Volin that she expected the Chattanooga guard to go 2-4 in rounds.
Strange improved as his rookie season continued in 2022, offering hope that an internal group of him, Mike Onwenu (right guard) and veteran David Andrews (center) could help keep the wallet clean for Jones in the years to come.
The 2023 season has been more of a struggle for Strange, who was injured during training camp and has been unable to find consistency in his play. According to Pro Football FocusStrange ranks 42nd out of 82 qualified guards so far this year.
Round 2, pick 50: WR Tyquan Thornton
The Patriots hoped a speedster like Thornton from Baylor would give New England a much-needed vertical threat on offense.
Whether it’s injuries or his mistakes in execution, Thornton is looking more and more like a complete failure on a Patriots roster currently experiencing a shortage of proven playmakers.
After hauling in just 22 catches for 247 yards in 2022, Thornton has caught just three passes for 15 total yards this season.
The wideout opened the year on injured reserve due to a shoulder ailment, but has now made 15 appearances in the past four weeks. Even with players like Kendrick Bourne and DeVante Parker sidelined due to injury, Thornton didn’t play a single snap despite being active against the Colts in Germany.
Round 3, pick 85: CB Marcus Jones
There remains hope that Jones can develop into an impact player for New England in the coming years.
The Houston cornerback took home All-Pro honors as a rookie last season and helped New England orchestrate a dramatic walk-off win over the Jets on Nov. 20. The versatile defensive back also recorded two interceptions last season and hauled in a receiving touchdown from Mac Jones on December 1, 2022.
But Jones went down in Week 2 against the Dolphins due to a torn labrum that ended his sophomore campaign prematurely.
Round 4, pick #121: CB Jack Jones
Cut by the Patriots on Monday after playing just 18 games in New England. Displayed the impression of being a dynamic ball-hawk corner as a rookie (two interceptions), but quickly drew the ire of the Patriots coaching staff due to his dip in the game and reported attitude issues.
Round 4, pick #127: RB Pierre Strong Jr.
The crafty running back out of South Dakota State was traded for OT Tyrone Wheatley Jr. before the start of the 2023 season. Wheatley is currently on injured reserve for New England, while Strong has recorded 34 carries for 152 rushing yards and one score at the Browns. He also recorded two catches for 34 yards through the air in Cleveland.
Round 4, pick No. 137: QB Bailey Zappe
It certainly feels like a long time ago that “Zappe Fever” took place in New England.
A case could be made that Zappe warrants a start over Mac Jones at this stage of the 2023 season. But there is little evidence that Zappe is an effective NFL QB in his own right.
New England opted to cut Zappe after the 2023 training camp before ultimately signing him to the practice squad. He has since been reinstated to New England’s active roster, but has completed just 10 of his 25 passing attempts for 104 yards and an interception this season.
Round 6, pick #183: RB Kevin Harris
He recorded just 18 carries for 52 yards and one touchdown in a reserve role with the Patriots in 2022. Was cut out of training camp in late 2023 and has been on New England’s practice squad so far this season.
Round 6, pick #200: DL Sam Roberts
Roberts has played a total of 11 games with the Patriots, but has served more as a depth player on the D-line and as a special teams contributor. He has landed on New England’s inactive list four times this season, including the last two games against the Commanders and Colts.
Round 6, pick #210: OL Chasen Hines
After not playing a snap as a rookie in 2022, Hines was cut by the Patriots before the start of the 2023 season. Hines is currently on the Miami Dolphins practice squad.
Round 7, pick #245: OL Andrew Stueber
Like Hines, Stueber was cut by the Patriots before the start of the 2023 season after not playing a snap as a rookie. Stueber is currently on New England’s practice squad.
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