2023 NFL draft: Prediction for the Patriots in the first round
It’s nearly impossible to guess what New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick is going to do at any NFL draft, much less one where he’ll have his highest draft pick in nearly 15 years.
Enter the 2023 NFL draft on Thursday.
The Patriots are sitting pretty with the No. 14 overall pick and more options than a kid with a bucket of Halloween candy.
Upgrading the defense will always be a possibility when dealing with a defensive-minded head coach, but then again, Belichick watched from the sidelines as his offense got squished like a bug on a windshield in the 2022 season. The offseason theme has been improving on the offensive side of the ball, and I’m convinced that effort will continue on the first draft night.
Although the Patriots would be better off drafting a receiver, such as Zay Flowers, Jaxon Smith-Njigba or even Quentin Johnston, I’m predicting they’ll add another offensive lineman in the first round for the second year straight with Georgia offensive tackle Broderick Jones.
The unit already has Trent Brown, and veteran Riley Reiff is getting guaranteed money, which is a good sign he’ll get to see the field in the 2023 season as well. But Reiff, 34, isn’t a long-term solution for the Patriots. There’s no certainty he’ll be a short-term one, either.
The Patriots need to get younger and improve at protecting quarterback Mac Jones in the pocket. Jones isn’t blessed with the sort of athletic talent as Josh Allen or Tua Tagovailoa, when it comes to scrambling ability and buying more time in the pocket. In many ways, he’s a bit of a throwback option at quarterback. If the Patriots want to make that work, they’re going to have to make protecting him a priority.
And it all starts up front with a large, athletic and talented player like Broderick. Before the Patriots can win on the scoreboard, they need to win in the trenches first.
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