Patriots Draft Review (2023)
We’ve said before that you can’t properly grade a draft class until three years have passed. In respect to that, we’ll refrain from grading individual picks from last week’s NFL draft — it’s been less than a week since the draft concluded — and instead go pick-by-pick and provide our insight into each selection. Initial reaction to this year’s class? There’s a lot to like. Dare I say; I love it.
With that being said, let’s take a look at New Englands 2023 draft class in further detail:
Round 1, Pick 17 — Christian Gonzalez, DB, Oregon
Brilliant. Love it. New England originally owned pick 14 but traded down three spots (acquiring an additional fourth-rounder) and a) still got their guy, one of the blue-chip cornerback prospects available, while b) preventing their rival, the Jets, from drafting OT prospect Broderick Jones. Double-whammy. 4D chess by Bill. So much has been said about Gonzalez already; he’ll be a welcome addition to their cornerback depth chart.
Round 2, Pick 46 — Keion White, DE, Georgia Tech
It initially seemed like Alabama safety Brian Branch would be available here, but Detroit traded up one pick ahead of the Patriots and selected him. New England then pivoted to White, a size/athleticism freak who should see time as both DE and DT in New England’s versatile defensive scheme. While he’ll be known for his stoic response after being drafted, White should see time and opportunity early and often.
Round 3, Pick 76 — Marte Mapu, S, Sacramento State
Ah, noted football powerhouse Sacramento State. On tape, what stands out is the comparison to current Patriots safety/linebacker hybrid Kyle Dugger. Mapu should step in and be able to provide similar versatility while giving the Patriots leverage before Dugger hits free agency in 2024.
Round 4, Pick 107 — Jake Andrews, C, Troy
It feels a bit silly to think of a 30-year-old as someone on the back-nine of their career, but that’s sports for you. David Andrews is not getting any younger. Missing all of the 2019 season and most of 2020, there have been health concerns here. With Jake Andrews (no relation), the Patriots get an experienced center that has over 3,000 snaps in his collegiate career.
Round 4, Pick 112 — Chad Ryland, K, Maryland
This was the most surprising selection of the draft for me personally. Anytime you draft a kicker in round 4 or earlier, there will be big expectations, and that’s no different here for Chad Ryland. A multi-sport player in high school, Ryland comes with five years of experience as a college kicker, with range upwards of fifty yards and the potential to kick off as well. He may not end up being special, but it may not matter if he’s reliable for the next decade, similar to stalwarts Adam Vinatieri and Stephen Gostkowski.
Round 4, Pick 117 — Sidy Sow, G, Eastern Michigan
New England continues its effort to bolster the interior offensive line here with the selection of Sow, a four-year starter who the Patriots believe may also have potential as a tackle.
Round 5, Pick 144 — Atonio Mafi, G, UCLA
At 338 pounds, Mafi has a massive frame and a known nasty streak — something every offensive line coach loves to see. Mafi is a former defensive tackle, converted to offensive guard.
Round 6, Pick 187 — Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU
This is my favorite pick of the draft. Boutte had a lot of hype as one of the best receivers in college but ended up with a disappointing 2022 season, where he flashed his playmaking skills but offset them with his inconsistency and 11% drop rate. This is a standard low-risk/high-reward selection that could make other teams regret letting him fall to round six. The Patriots will need to find ways to get him the ball underneath in space where Boutte can flash his YAC skills.
Round 6, Pick 192 — Bryce Baringer, P, Michigan State
Here we go with another special team selection. The Patriots become the first team since 2000 to draft a punter and kicker in the same draft. With former punter Jake Bailey falling off a cliff after signing an extension, this was a real need. We have been campaigning for Rutgers punter Adam Korsak who went undrafted, but there’s a lot to like with Baringer. Baringer’s 46 yards per punt average were the most in Big Ten history.
Round 6, Pick 210 — Demario Douglas, WR, Liberty
There’s definitely a faction of fans and pundits who love this pick. If Douglas can give them anything as a slot receiver, awesome. If he can be a reliable punt returner, even better. Bad on his size, we are a bit skeptical, but it’s worth a gamble, especially this late in the draft.
Round 6, Pick 214 — Ameer Speed, CB, Michigan State
This appears to be a selection based purely on special teams, and that’s okay. As a graduate transfer from Georgia, Speed had over 500 snaps on special teams. With the AFC East stacked offensively, the Patriots seem to be gambling on building a rugged defense and strong special teams to stay competitive.
Round 7, Pick 245 — Isaiah Bolden, CB, Jackson State
The only HBCU selection this year, Bolden will have a high ceiling as a corner and potential as a special teams weapon. At 6’2, 205 pounds with a 4.31 forty-yard dash, Bolden is a height/weight/speed freak that is still very raw and only started 13 games in college.