Patriots to host projected first-round cornerback for visit on Friday

COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA – NOVEMBER 27: Cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. #23 of the Clemson Tigers makes an interception on a pass intended for wide receiver Josh Vann #6 of the South Carolina Gamecocks in the second quarter during their game at Williams-Brice Stadium on November 27, 2021 in Columbia, South Carolina. (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)

Throughout this offseason, the Patriots’ moves have suggested a possible shift away from their man-heavy defensive scheme to more of a zone look. However, could they still add a more traditional press-man corner to what’s now a very versatile secondary?

That option seemingly may be on the table, based on one of their upcoming Top-30 pre-draft visits. As first reported by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoportthe Patriots will be hosting Clemson cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. for a visit on Friday.

Booth projects as the kind of corner who could replace JC Jackson in the Patriots’ defensive scheme. At 6-foot, 194 pounds with 31.5-inch arms, he has the size, strength, and athleticism to bump and run down the sideline. He’ll compete physically down the field, as well as at the catch point. On top of that, he’s a willing tackler and big-hitter when he gets his chances.

Currently, Booth is projected to go somewhere in the middle of the first round of this month’s NFL Draft. As things stand now, it feels like a 50/50 shot he’s there for the Patriots at 21, although he may be the kind of player they’d be willing to move up slightly to get. How far he falls will likely depend on where the cornerbacks ranked above him go. Cincinnati’s Ahmad Gardner has been penciled in as a likely top-10 pick, but the real difference maker will be LSU’s Derek Singley, who’s current projections range anywhere from the top four to the 12-15 range. If Stingley’s fall really ends up being a big one, that could push Booth further down the board and right to the Patriots.

On top of that, Booth isn’t the only cornerback expected to go in that range. Washington’s Trent McDuffie is also currently projected as a late-teens pick. A team may prefer him to Booth, which would only help the Patriots’ case. Booth did also recently undergo core surgery according to NFL Network’s Mike Giardi. He’s not expected to miss any time, but that could also factor into the team’s evaluations of him.

Still, the competition for Booth could be tough. According to Rapoport, he also has meetings lined up with the Eagles and Saints – both of whom have multiple picks in the top 20.

Booth isn’t the only cornerback the Patriots are using a Top-30 meeting on. They also spoke with Arizona State’s Jack Jones on Wednesday, according to PFF’s Doug Kyed. Jones is a projected Day 3 pick.

Here’s a running list of all of the players the Patriots’ pre-draft meetings that have been made public so far…

2022 Patriots pre-draft meeting tracker

NEXT: Mac Jones and Patriots receivers have throwing session in Tampa

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