The New England Patriots 2023 NFL Draft is officially in the books, which means it’s time to review the actual picks. After going heavy on defense early in the draft, the Patriots went with a volume approach on Day 3 and hoped that strength truly does lie in numbers.
In all, they obtained the following players:
- First Round, 17th Overall: Christian Gonzalez, CB
- Second Round, 46th Overall: Keion White, EDGE
- Third Round, 76th Overall: Marte Mapu, S/LB
- Fourth Round, 107th Overall: Jake Andrews, C
- Fourth Round, 112th Overall: Chad Ryland, K
- Fourth Round, 117th Overall: Sidy Sow, G
- Fifth Round, 144th Overall: Antonio Mafi, G
- Sixth Round, 187th Overall: Kayshon Boutte, WR
- Sixth Round, 192nd Overall: Bryce Baringer, P
- Sixth Round, 210th Overall: Demario Douglas, WR
- Sixth Round, 214th Overall: Ameer Speed, CB
- Seventh Round, 245th Overall: Isaiah Bolden, CB
New England Patriots 2023 NFL Draft Review Grade: 8.9/10
New England Patriots 2023 NFL Draft Review
The Best Player: Christian Gonzalez
Boy, did the Patriots knock it out of the park with their first selection. Widely mocked as a top-10 pick and arguably the best cornerback in the NFL Draft class, Christian Gonzalez somehow fell all the way to 17, and New England made arguably the best pick of the entire draft when they selected him.
Bill Belichick’s defense is at its best when he has a big, strong cornerback that can isolate an opponents top receiver, and that’s exactly what Christian Gonzalez could do. In many ways, he’s basically just a younger Stephon Gilmore, and he could easily turn into a top-five cornerback with the right coaching. This was a phenomenal selection, and the fact that they traded back and added some extra draft capital is just the cherry on top.
The Head-Scratcher: So. Many. Lineman
The New England Patriots entered the 2023 NFL Draft with a glaring need at the tackle position. So, naturally, they focused on defense in the first three rounds before going absolutely wild on interior offensive lineman.
Jake Andrews, Sidy Sow, and Antonio Mafi are all cut from the same cloth: big, physical blockers that are better against the run than they are against the pass. Belichick loves these types of players, but the only question is why he felt the need to get so many. Michael Onwenu, David Andrews, and Cole Strange are all set to start along the interior, and each one of those guys range somewhere from adequate to great. Perhaps Onwenu is shifting back out to right tackle? But if that’s the case, then why didn’t the team move him there in 2022 when the Patriots desperately needed more tackle help?
The Surprise: Chad Ryland
Bill Belichick loves special teams, but it’s still surprising to see him trade up and take the second-best kicker in this class in the fourth round. Chad Ryland appears to be a good prospect, but unless he’s Justin Tucker, he’s probably not going to be notably better than Nick Folk, or some other kicker you could find as a seventh-round pick or undrafted free agent.
The Steal: Keion White
In his draft profile, I wrote that Keion White was a boom-or-bust prospect whose success will largely be determined by his landing spot. Well, he just so happened to land with the greatest coach in the history of football. Belichick should be able to iron out the flaws in White’s game, and within a season or two, he should be a double-digit sack guy. If the team retains Josh Uche long-term, he and White could be New England’s next great pass rushing duo.
Most Likely to Turn Heads in Training Camp: Christian Gonzalez
Once again, we have to go back to the best player in this draft class. The Patriots man-heavy scheme allows great cornerbacks to thrive in practice, and Gonzalez should waste no time showing off his amazing skills. Combine this with the fact that he’ll be going up against a mediocre quarterback in Mac Jones and an army of underwhelming receiver, and you’ll be reading a lot of hype pieces in July.
Marte Mapu has some interesting tape, and nobody is better than Belichick at utilizing the “pseudo linebacker/safety” type of player, but it is still surprising to see that the Patriots prioritized him over some offensive players that could have provided an immediate impact.
The Patriots only have two wide receviers on the books after the 2023 season, so Kayshon Boutte and Demario Douglas should have a chance to prove themselves in the coming years. Boutte could actually turn into a steal, as an ankle injury led to poor performances late in the season. He’s no superstar, but he’s a smart player that can make stuff happen after the catch. Demario Douglas, meanwhlie, is just a poor mans version of Zay Flowers.
I’m not going to act like I’ve spent a second watching any sort of punter film, but it’s impossible for Bryce Baringer to be worse than what the Patriots had last year.
New England wrapped up their 2023 NFL Draft by taking cornerbacks Ameer Speed and Isaiah Bolden. Ameer Speed lives up to his name, as he ran a 4.33 40-yard dash and is essentially just a special teamer. Bolden, meanwhile, is a big, physical corner that could theoretically be good in New England’s man-heavy scheme, but he’ll need to basically recreate his fundamentals from scratch.
Main Photo: Kirby Lee – USA Today Sports