BOSTON (CBS) — Patriots fans surely wish it were still playoff season in New England. Unfortunately for them, it’s not. But it is mock draft season. For whatever that’s worth.

While the mock drafts put out by experts and amateurs alike don’t often mean squat, they do provide a mental exercise of sorts to get everyone thinking about every team’s draft needs and possible moves.

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As such, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. released his first mock draft of 2022, and he’s got a big name going to the Patriots: Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams.

Williams was a star for the Crimson Tide in 2021, his first year in Tuscaloosa, but he tore his ACL in the National Championship Game. That injury might hurt his draft stock some, but as evidenced by the 21st selection in this mock draft, it’s not enough to even drop him out of the first round.

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“What stuck out to me as I watched the Patriots, though, was their lack of playmakers in the passing game,” Kiper wrote. “Their top two receivers were former undrafted free agents (Jakobi Meyers and Kendrick Bourne), and their tight ends didn’t beat defenders after the catch (when they got open). N’Keal Henry hasn’t developed like they had hoped. If they can get a deep threat for Jones here, they should be thrilled.”

Kiper said that Williams would have been “in the top-10 range” if not for the injury.

“Still, I don’t think he’s going to fall too far, because he’s a true No. 1 wideout when he’s healthy,” Kiper wrote. “This is good value for New England.”

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Williams caught just 15 passes for 266 yards and three touchdowns combined over two seasons with Ohio State. In Alabama, though, he caught 79 passes for 1,572 yards and 15 touchdowns. He also returned 10 kickoffs, bringing two back for touchdowns.

CBSBoston.com Staff