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Patriots 2023 Draft: Pick-By-Pick Breakdowns And Assessment

Updated: Jun 28, 2023

The Patriots had an eventful 2023 draft, having a whopping 12 picks, eight of which involved trades. They added to a number of position groups and as a new crop of players booked their tickets to Foxborough, I take a look at how the most crucial weekend of the offseason fared.

The Patriots’ Draft Picks

1-17: Christian Gonzalez – CB, Oregon

This was by far the value pick of the first round. Lots of people had Christian in their top 10. He has the rare athleticism, speed, and instincts combo that is so coveted in a corner. Particularly impressive is his vision – specifically his ability to read the quarterback and multiple weapons simultaneously.

Oregon DB Christian Gonzalez is headed to New England at No. 17 Patriots just upgraded their secondary 🔥 — B/R Gridiron (@brgridiron) April 28, 2023

The Patriots traded down from 14 to 17 and gained a fourth-rounder in the process while nabbing a top player. Gonzalez has the size that the Patriots’ secondary needs and if he can bulk up and gain just that little extra bit of power, he can be a threat from week one. Not much on the negative end to say about this pick; they had bigger needs but Gonzalez couldn’t be left on the board. To add to all this, he’s only 20, and has so much time and room to grow. An exciting prospect to say the least.

2-46: Keion White – DE, Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech won five games without being a five-game-worthy team last year, and a big reason why is that they were able to consistently put pressure on the quarterback and limit some really high-powered offenses. Keion was arguably the biggest part of this. He has a stunningly quick off-the-line burst, a persistent motor, and the agility to move around his assignment.

New #Patriots draft pick Keion White's play strength, length, and upper-body are his standout traits. Couple examples against the run. Press-and-hold on the goal line+fire into the inside shoulder and work down the line. A better interior rusher in a three-point stance, imo. — Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) April 29, 2023

With 54 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, and 7.5 sacks last year, he’s coming off an impressive year. At 6’5″, 285 lbs, his size may not be as intimidating at the NFL level as in college, and he does rely a lot on his power, so that will be something to watch with him. Edge is a sneaky need for the Patriots – while Judon is excellent and Wise is normally solid, he can be a bit on and off, and there’s not much depth there. It can be argued, though, that the Patriots had bigger needs here, but ultimately Keion was too hard to say no to. Another great pick.

3-76: Marte Mapu – LB/S, Sacramento State

For a team that was so beleaguered on offense in 2022 and having come off a decent defensive season, three defensive players in three picks feels somewhat difficult to justify. However, again, Belichick does get a good one here. Mapu has the hitting power of the linebacker, but the limberness, agility, and coverage instincts of a safety. If he is to be used in the secondary he adds some valuable size.

Another look at #Patriots defender Marte Mapu: 💥🤫 — Mike Kadlick (@mikekadlick) April 29, 2023

It’s a bit hard to wrap my head around this pick as a fit, though. In Phillips, Dugger, and Peppers, and to an extent, even Mack Wilson, the Patriots have the hybrid of tackling ability/hitting power and coverage abilities more than covered. Trading up for a player who meets an existing and abundant profile on the team does look like the first mistake of the draft. However, Mapu should still be able to be an option on passing downs for the Patriots, as well as a solid special teams contributor.

4-107: Jake Andrews – OG, Troy

Andrews has been all over the interior offensive line and was a center in 2022. At 6’3″, 305 pounds, he has the size needed for the position. Watching his take, what impressed me the most is his hand placement and usage. Both with his punches and gripping power, he quickly takes control of most of his matchups. He’s difficult to move and plants his feet well.

Here’s your first look at new #Patriots center Jake Andrews (#55): — Mike Kadlick (@mikekadlick) April 29, 2023

He’s generally known as a hard worker who plays the right way, which is important and goes perfectly with the way the Patriots conduct their locker room. His athleticism, or lack thereof, is a concern, but overall Andrews does add depth to the interior offensive line. Furthermore, with his versatility, he can sub for Onwenu, David Andrews, and Strange almost equally well. I do think, with Dawand Jones on the board, that tackle should have been a bigger priority there, especially because the issues on the edges go all the way up to and including the starters.

4-112: Chad Ryland – K, Maryland

Before offering my judgment, I will say this: as a kicker, Ryland is quite good. He was deservedly the second kicker taken off the board and was in the top five of pretty much anybody’s kicker rankings. He has the power to handle kickoffs and kick from beyond 50 – he has a career-long of 55 yards and had at least one kick go in over 50 in each of his five years. While he is inconsistent beyond 50, making just half his kicks in that range in 2022, he’s almost automatic under it, missing just one kick inside 50 and no kicks inside 40.

Another @bigten kicker 🎯 The @Patriots just selected former @TerpsFootball K Chad Ryland (@C_Ryland38).#NFLDraft x #ForeverNE — Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) April 29, 2023

There is a key issue with this pick. One is that the profile I described for Ryland matches someone the Patriots already have, someone who broke the NFL record for most kicks made consecutively inside 50 – Nick Folk. Drafted this early, it’s hard to see Ryland not at least being given a chance to compete or the starting job, yet it’s also hard to see him winning it. Furthermore, the Patriots don’t have the luxury roster-wise to not use a fourth-round pick to get a kicker, but also to trade up for it.

4-117: Sidy Sow – OG, Michigan St

Sow was a tackle before playing guard and potentially could end up being a tackle in New England given the currently precarious situation at that position group. Sow is a talented addition to the line, and has quite the imposing size, at 6’5″ and 323 pounds. He’s explosive at the point of attack, starts the play off with a strong and quick burst, and is extremely adept with his hands.

He’s able to get to the second level, and will overall be a good project for Adrian Klemm to work with. The biggest weakness in Sow’s game, though, is his pass blocking, and if he wants serious playing time with the Patriots, he needs to improve there.

Sidy Sow (Eastern Michigan) He's moved up boards as people discover him so he probably goes day 3. But there's a lot to like in his game (LG #62 below) — Chicago Football Connection (@CFCBears) April 26, 2023

Not a bad pick, overall, but the Patriots, after four rounds, had yet to fully address their biggest weakness at tackle. Sow is a step in the right direction, but his most recent seasons had him playing on the interior.

5-144: Antonio Mafi – OG, UCLA

Mafi was a player that the Patriots had already worked with when their staff coached him at the Shrine bowl, which does inspire some confidence. At 6’5″, 338 pounds, he’s an intimidating figure in the interior offensive line. He uses his size well and generates power extremely well while being difficult to move around from a pass-blocking perspective.

Antonio Mafi (@mafiatonio) is a 6'3" 340-pound Monster. I'm surprised the UCLA LG isn't being talked about more. He's super physical at the POA, has great Reach Ability, and can process well in Pass Pro. — Sanjit T. (@Sanjit__T) February 23, 2023

Mafi is an interesting project, having started as a defensive lineman and having just 16 offensive starts under his belt, but is no doubt a project. His technique, fundamentals, footwork, hand placement, etc… all need work if he wants to start at the next level. There’s a high ceiling for Mafi, but I’m not sure the Patriots were best off picking someone who will take as much time to get there as Mafi might.

Had this pick been made during the Patricia era, I’m not sure if Mafi would have the tools he needed to evolve. However, Adrian Klemm can give him the direction he needs. If he does, the defensive perspective could actually add a dimension to his game that differentiates him from other linemen.

6-187: Kayshon Boutte – WR, LSU

Kayshon in the sixth seems like a steal. It’s hard to tell, however, which version of him will come out. As just a sophomore, he tallied over 500 yards and nine touchdowns a year after having over 700 yards and five touchdowns. He had the looks of a first-rounder, but in 2022, saw a dip, only scoring two touchdowns, and overall seeing his season riddled with inconsistency. This coupled with some issues with the coaching staff and with his general attitude gives concerns about the kind of locker room presence he will be.

Bottom of the screen. New #Patriots WR Kayshon Boutte takes a skinny post to the house vs. Emmanuel Forbes in 2021. Forbes was drafted by the Commanders in the first round on Thursday night. — Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) April 29, 2023

When it comes to his talent and potential, though, he’s at a second-round level if not first. He has exceptional versatility as a receiver, is able to run both inside and outside routes, and has generally reliable hands. His vertical threat ability could be a great asset to the Patriots if harnessed properly. He’s at his most threatening with the ball in his hands, though. His raw speed, ability to sense and avoid defenders, and ability to change direction make him exceptionally difficult to bring down. As far as his temperament, there’s nothing more perfect than the Patriot way to try to bring the best out of him.

6-192: Bryce Baringer – P, Michigan State

The Patriots needed a punter. Jake Bailey, who struggled mightily in 2022, is in Miami, Michael Palardy remains a non-solution, and Corliss Waitman is likely only a small step up. There are arguments for a guy like Michael Turk, but Baringer is at the very least a top-three guy in the class and perhaps at the very top. The Patriots made a smart and necessary move here to attack a position of need.

Your first look at #Patriots punter Bryce Baringer. A 68-yard BOMB inside the 5 yard line. Weapon. — Mike Kadlick (@mikekadlick) April 29, 2023

As a punter, he has a lot of qualities a team would want: range, a quick release, good direction. His hangtime and consistency of placement could use some work, but he led the NCAA in punt average at 49 last year, and had a 60-yarder in eight of his twelve games. He can help flip the field for a Patriots special teams unit that struggled to do just that.

6-201: Demario Douglas – WR, Liberty

The Patriots make a second addition to their WR corps in another promising guy in Douglas. At Liberty, Douglas saw a massive increase in his productivity every year, culminating in an excellent output last year that netted him almost 1000 receiving yards and six touchdowns on 79 catches, adding 105 yards and a touchdown on just five rushes.

Your first look at new #Patriots WR Demario Douglas. 💨💨💨 — Mike Kadlick (@mikekadlick) April 29, 2023

His value can be summed up in one word: shifty. In addition to vertical speed, he can change direction on a dime and uses jukes and cuts to confuse his matchup to great efficacy – and does this both before and after the catch. With the Patriots, he’s another weapon in the slot, although he does have the ability to line up outside and make catches downfield.

His shiftiness and success with rushing last year make him a possible candidate for use in gadget plays, and his success on punt and kick returns makes him a possible backup return guy for Marcus Jones. For a sixth, this is a good pick, but his size (5’8″ and 170 pounds) limits his NFL efficacy in a conventional receiver role.

6-214: Ameer Speed – CB, Michigan State

With a last name like Speed, he has to be fast, and with a 4.34-second forty time, he absolutely is. Furthermore, at 6’3″, 210 lbs, he adds intimidating size for a corner. After five relatively quiet seasons at Georgia, Speed broke out after transferring, having 63 tackles and five pass deflections in his final year.

With the 214th pick in the #NFLDraft, the New England #Patriots select CB Ameer Speed from Michigan State. Played at Georgia for 5 years before transferring to MSU. He’s 6’3”, 209 lbs and ran a 4.33 sec 40. Should contribute to special teams right away. — Casey Baker (@_CaseyBaker) April 29, 2023

Speed is excellent at the line of scrimmage, and his speed and ball skills help his package as a corner. However, he’s penalty-prone downfield and doesn’t have the ability to read offenses that early-round corners in this class do. He didn’t record a single interception in his college career and overall isn’t going to see playing time as a corner early in his Patriots career. It’s likely on special teams, where he was successful each of his six college years, where he’ll find the role that works best for him.

7-245: Isaiah Bolden – CB, Jackson State

As a corner, Bolden’s speed and agility does help him, and he has decent ball skills. He had a good 2022 output, with 33 tackles and six pass deflections. However, his abilities as a corner are not at an NFL roster level, especially in terms of his ability to read the progressions of plays. He does, however, have the burst to catch up to faster receivers and if honed right, could be a great addition to the defense in time.

Patriots grab a big corner in Isaiah Bolden; he played for Deion Sanders at Jackson State. Wicked athlete (4.33 40) at 6-2, 201. Also a really impressive return man: — Bobby Football (@Rob__Paul) April 29, 2023

His true value is as an athlete and special teamer. He’s fast, shifty, and has a great field sense, and his hitting ability could be useful in punt coverage. As a returner, he’s had two touchdowns and a whopping average of over 39 yards/return. He’s likely going to be competing for a fringe roster spot, but is overall a good addition for the second round.

Overall Draft Assessment

When it comes to value, the Patriots couldn’t have done much better. Almost every pick was either better or at the spot that they were picked. Lots of good system fits and players with potential were among the group of twelve. Overall, the Pats should be thrilled with what they’re adding.

If there was one mistake, it’s that they didn’t go according to need to the extent that they should have. Their fourth-round pick of Ryland wasn’t a well-timed call, even though he is a talented kicker. More importantly, they absolutely should have tried to get a right tackle in the first three/four rounds, and not grabbing Dawand Jones with their first pick of the fourth round was a questionable call.

However, the Patriots overall look very well-poised for training camp and had one of the best drafts in the entire league as far as the overall value was concerned. Especially on the defensive side, they look like one productive training camp from being an even tougher wall than they were in 2022.


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