After missing the playoffs last season, the New England Patriots turned to the 2023 NFL Draft to fill holes in their roster ahead of next season. Did Bill Belichick’s team add some instant impact-makers? The Patriots’ NFL Draft grades tell the story of how New England’s 2023 haul unfolded.
New England Patriots NFL Draft Grades
Round 1, Pick 17: Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
Lacking depth in the secondary, the Patriots came into the 2023 NFL Draft with cornerback as one of their biggest draft needs. We know that the draft isn’t all about taking position of need, but Bill Belichick’s team land the perfect combination of best player available that just so happens to be a position of need.
Oregon cornerback Christian Gonzalez was the fifth overall player on the Pro Football Network Big Board, and his slip outside of the top 10 felt unfathomable as the NFL’s annual selection event got underway.
Gonzalez has the size and length to patrol the Patriots’ perimeter while possessing an insatiable combination of elite athleticism, incredible ball skills, and the football intelligence to weaponize all of the above. It’s a slam-dunk pick for New England.
Round 2, Pick 46: Keion White, DL, Georgia Tech
For the second time in the 2023 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots stop the slide of an impactful defensive prospect. Having snagged Gonzalez in Round 1, Belichick adds a versatile defensive front piece in the form of Georgia Tech’s Keion White.
At 6’4” and 285 pounds, White can play as a big defensive end while also making an impact from the interior of a defensive line. That skill set makes him a valuable piece in New England. The Georgia Tech EDGE prospect is extremely explosive, and his size/length combination allows him to be a violent and powerful presence on the defensive front.
Round 3, Pick 76: Marte Mapu, S, Sacramento State
Here we go! New England is always a potential landing spot for ascending smaller-school prospects, and sure enough, the Patriots snagged a player who made a name for himself during the all-star circuit.
Marte Mapu is a versatile piece who blurs the line between safety and linebacker, with his 6’2”, 217-pound frame. He’s a physical force with fluidity and the football intelligence to be an impact-maker in multiple phases. As a result, Mapu should find an early role on the Patriots.
Round 4, Pick 107: Jake Andrews, OL, Troy
One of the most experienced offensive linemen in this class, Jake Andrews is a bit of a reach at this point for New England. Andrews is limited athletically and failed to dominate in either facet of blocking. He can play a variety of roles and has special teams ability, but there were better center or guard options on the board here.
Round 4, Pick 112: Chad Ryland, K, Maryland
The Patriots sent a sixth-round pick to move up eight spots to grab a kicker. Why? Because Chad Ryland has a rocket attached to his lower half in the form of his right leg. Ryland was 60% on kicks over 50 yards in his college career, spanning four years at Eastern Michigan and one at Maryland and was nearly flawless from under 30 yards.
Round 4, Pick 117: Sidy Sow, G, Eastern Michigan
One of the most talented interior linemen left on the board, Sidy Sow comes with a bevy of experience from his time at Eastern Michigan. A five-year starter for the Eagles, Sow is strong with both his hands and his lower-half footwork. He’s equally impressive in pass protection as he is on the move in the run game.
Round 5, Pick 144: Atonio Mafi, G, UCLA
A puzzling pick, given the fact that Atonio Mafi is the third interior offensive lineman selected by New England since Day 3 started. A former defensive lineman, Mafi has a great get-off at the line of scrimmage, but he’s not refined in either facet on offense just yet.
He’ll be a depth piece with a potentially high ceiling, but it’s getting more and more crowded on the inside of the Patriots’ offensive line.
Round 6, Pick 187: Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU
If there is a discussion about a coach who can get the best out of his players, it certainly involves Bill Belichick. That ability will be tested as Kayshon Boutte, a player with first-round talent, slipped all the way down to Round 6 mainly because of off-field concerns. On the field, Boutte is slippery as a route runner and has tremendous hands and after-the-catch ability. If Belichick keeps him on the straight and narrow, Boutte is a tremendous pick for the Patriots.
Round 6, Pick 192: Bryce Baringer, P, Michigan State
The only team bold enough to pull the trigger on drafting a kicker AND a punter, the Patriots strike gold with Bryce Baringer from Michigan State. The Spartan record-holder for yards per punt (49.0), he was an artist when it came to pinning opposing teams inside their 20-yard line. He can hang punts for lengthy periods and should become a fan favorite in no time.
Round 6, Pick 210: Demario Douglas, WR, Liberty
A speedster who is dangerous with the ball in his hands, Demario Douglas is a true inside threat for the Patriots to deploy. A longtime starter for Liberty, Douglas exploded onto the national stage in 2021 and exceeded expectations in 2022 with a near 1,000-yard season. Despite size concerns, Douglas can track and navigate the football incredibly well, using his football IQ and late hands to dominate at the catch point.
Round 6, Pick 214: Ameer Speed, CB, Michigan State
Known for taking relatively unknown players, the Patriots continue their trend with the selection of Ameer Speed. A longtime member of the Georgia Bulldogs, Speed finally broke through to a starting lineup in 2022 with Michigan State after five seasons in Athens.
Speed has length and great size overall but lacked top-tier coverage skills to make much of a difference in East Lansing. He comes with a full slate of special teams ability, however, and could factor onto any special teams unit in New England.
Round 7, Pick 245: Isaiah Bolden, CB, Jackson State
A former Florida State defensive back, Isaiah Bolden transferred to Jackson State and finally broke out on the big stage in 2022. Bolden has great length and was sticky in coverage, flashing some serious ball skills at times. He’ll likely make the roster due to his elite return skills as well, as he had nearly 1,000 kick return yards and a score in his college career.
What Were the Patriots’ Biggest Needs Entering the Draft?
- OT, WR, EDGE, DT, CB
For a long time now, the Patriots have had good offensive line play. Starting Riley Reiff at right tackle would end that run. New England must improve that right side. Again, the more things change, the more they remain the same, and the Patriots still could use an upgrade at wide receiver.
Matthew Judon has been outstanding, and Josh Uche looks like he might be an absolute star, but the Patriots could use some depth at the position. The same rings true at defensive tackle.
Jonathan Jones and Jack Jones have been good for New England, and Marcus Jones could make it three Jones on the starting depth chart. Yet, the Patriots could also be staring directly at Devon Witherspoon when their pick rolls around, and that’s a fit that couldn’t be more perfect.
Running back isn’t a real need, but rumor has it the Patriots could look to add a blue-chip talent to the backfield, which would be an interesting decision with the 14th pick.
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