2023 NFL Mock Draft: Patriots tab Zay Flowers as perfect fit for Mac Jones, Bill O'Brien
Perry's 2023 NFL Mock Draft: Patriots tab perfect WR fit for Mac Jones originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The Patriots were relatively quiet on Day 1 of the legal tampering period. Splashless, if you will. They re-signed Jonathan Jones and Carl Davis. They traded Jonnu Smith.
Perhaps there's something a little more explosive coming soon, but given what we know now about their needs -- tackle, receiver, cornerback and safety -- how might they handle the No. 14 overall pick in April?
Curran: A word of advice to Pats fans entering free agency ... RELAX!
Let's take a stab here...
1. Carolina Panthers (via Bears): C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
The Panthers rocket up the board from No. 9 to land the player who may not be the most awe-inspiring (Anthony Richardson) or the most consistent (Bryce Young). But Stroud has the size and accuracy to be worthy of this selection.
2. Houston Texans: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
Nick Caserio doesn't have to budge off his spot at No. 2 to land the player who is currently the best quarterback in the class. Even if he's undersized.
3. Arizona Cardinals: Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
Carter has all kinds of off-the-field questions that now need answering. But if new general manager Monti Ossenfort feels comfortable with Carter's character, this will qualify as a steal. Best player in the draft.
4. Indianapolis Colts: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
If you're going to be a bear, be a grizzly. The Colts need a quarterback. They have a vet in Matt Ryan, who should allow Richardson the chance to develop behind the scenes until he gets the reins.
5. Seattle Seahawks (via Broncos): Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech
Would the Seahawks roll with Wilson over Will Anderson? Physically, Wilson may be the more impressive specimen.
6. Detroit Lions (via Rams): Will Anderson, EDGE, Alabama
The Lions will be pleased to see Anderson -- seen by some at this time last year as the top pick in the 2023 draft -- slide all the way to them. He'll plop himself opposite Aidan Hutchinson and feast in obvious passing situations.
7. Las Vegas Raiders: Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
The Raiders have a crack at Kentucky quarterback Will Levis here, but after signing Jimmy Garoppolo, they don't have to reach at quarterback. They go with the do-it-all cover corner out of Oregon instead to help elevate their defense.
8. Atlanta Falcons: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
Atlanta needs everything. Might as well start taking shots on quarterbacks when you have the chance. Levis has enough arm and athleticism to develop into a capable starter. He was just inconsistent enough in the SEC that Arthur Smith might hesitate a touch as he turns in this particular card.
9. Chicago Bears (via Panthers): Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern
Best offensive lineman in the draft class. Maybe he's a tackle. Maybe he's a guard. His 32-inch arms would suggest he's the latter. Either way, Justin Fields gets more help here after the Bears moved off the top overall pick.
10. Philadelphia Eagles (via Saints): Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
Howie Roseman understands just how important it is to be stocked with talent at the receiver position. His team would have an argument as the most talented wideout room in football with AJ Brown, DeVonta Smith and Smith-Njigba in the slot.
11. Tennessee Titans: Paris Johnson, OT, Ohio State
Johnson looks like a developmental tackle with unlimited upside. Good match for the Titans here as they appear to be in developmental mode with the vast majority of their roster.
12. Houston Texans (via Browns): Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
Witherspoon is a Patriots type. Which means he'll be a Caserio type. Smart. Tough. Tackles well. Makes plays on the football when he has the opportunity. He'll fit just fine in DeMeco Ryans' scheme.
13. New York Jets: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
The Jets are going to need someone to help protect Aaron Rodgers when the future Hall of Famer (presumably) makes his way to New Jersey. Jones is a hard-nosed athlete who's good enough to start right now... but his best football is ahead of him.
14. Jacksonville Jaguars (via Patriots): Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah
Jaguars receive: Patriots' No. 14, No. 187 and No. 192 picks
Patriots receive: Jaguars' No. 25 and No. 56 picks
In this scenario, the Patriots are sitting at No. 14 and looking at a variety of options.
They could snag their favorite tight end in the class to pair with Hunter Henry now that Jonnu Smith is gone. They could go with a couple of tackles -- Anton Harrison of Oklahoma and Darrell Wright of Tennessee -- who'd make sense. There are athletic corners still on the board in Deonte Banks of Maryland and Joey Porter Jr. of Penn State. All receivers not named Smith-Njigba remain as well.
But with that many quality -- if not "blue-chip" -- talents at positions of need available, Bill Belichick does what he does and trades down. He finds the Jaguars as an interested party.
They're looking to pair Trevor Lawrence with the kind of weapon he'd lean on in critical down-and-distance situations. In the process, to get the man they want, and to leapfrog another team in need of a middle-of-the-field-pass-catcher, they part with a second-round pick. Good haul for New England.
15. Green Bay Packers: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
While the Packers may have been intrigued by Kincaid's hands and catch-and-run ability, they'll be fine with Mayer. For Jordan Love, Mayer represents a steady up-the-seam option who some consider the top tight end in the class.
16. Washington Commanders: Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma
Not a bad idea to start throwing high-end resources at premium positions if you're the Commanders. Harrison is already a capable pass-protector, and given where the game is going, that could get him drafted in the top half of the first round.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee
While Harrison may be the modern-age tackle because of his pass-game prowess, Wright feels a little more old school at 6-foot-5 and 335 pounds. He's an elite athlete, though, and he'll be a plug-and-play right tackle.
18. Detroit Lions: Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
Detroit surprised most of the NFL last season with its offense. Makes sense now that the Lions load up on the other side of the ball. What better way to accentuate the skill set of the pass-rushers you've drafted highly the last two seasons? Get a corner who forces quarterbacks to hold the ball. That's Banks, who might've been the best athlete at the position at this year's combine.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
Robinson really shouldn't have lasted this long. He's one of the best backs to enter the league in years. Maybe right there with Saquon Barkley, who went to the Giants with the second overall pick in 2018.
20. Seattle Seahawks: Jordan Addison, WR, USC
Seattle could use a third wideout to link up with DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Able to play both inside and out, Geno Smith will be a very happy man to see this selection on Day 1.
*22. Los Angeles Chargers: Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
Give Justin Herbert as many toys as he needs to succeed while still on his rookie deal. Even if he inks an extension soon ... give him some talent. Johnston is a nice add to Herbert's crew because he brings a combination of size and speed they just don't have at the moment.
*Miami forfeited the No. 21 overall selection as punishment for tampering with Tom Brady.
23. Baltimore Ravens: Brian Branch, DB, Alabama
Baltimore is always going to love 'Bama products. They'll love Branch for his versatility and his ability to match up with a variety of different pass-catchers from week to week. Seamless fit.
24. Minnesota Vikings: Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina
Brian Flores is going to want a man-to-man corner for his Vikings defense, and he has a crack at two with this selection. He ends up taking the more-explosive-than-many-thought Smith (4.43-second 40, 11-foot-3 broad) out of the SEC.
25. New England Patriots (via Jaguars): Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
2023 NFL Draft Highlights: WR Zay Flowers - Boston College
The Patriots have already traded down once, but they might be enticed to do it again given some of the talent still on the board here. Joey Porter Jr. would be an excellent fit in their man-heavy defense. Lukas Van Ness of Iowa has the length and explosiveness off the edge they may covet. Darnell Washington, the freakishly big and athletic tight end from Georgia, remains available.
Instead, they go with the kind of receiver who will make their quarterback and new offensive coordinator giddy. With or without Jakobi Meyers, the Patriots could afford to add a quick-as-a-hiccup type of wideout for Mac Jones. And Flowers is (right there with Smith-Njigba) among the shiftiest receivers in the class.
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For Bill O'Brien, who we know has the ability to free up slot receivers in the Patriots offense, Flowers would be a dynamic do-it-all type. Short-to-intermediate routes ... end-arounds ... screens ... But there's more to his game than that. Flowers doesn't look like a classic down-the-field threat (5-foot-9, 182 pounds), but he can test corners and safeties deep with the juice he possesses.
His combination of speed and explosiveness -- packaged in a smaller frame -- is a little reminiscent of a guy Jones loved throwing to at 'Bama: Jaylen Waddle.
26. New York Giants: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
Wink Martindale can't believe his luck. Two man-heavy teams select ahead of the Giants and he still ends up with one of the best press-man corners in the class?
27. Dallas Cowboys: Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa
It's about time. Van Ness would be the perfect complement to Micah Parsons off the edge. Speed and power. Terrifying combination for opposing quarterbacks.
28. Buffalo Bills: O'Cyrus Torrence, OL, Florida
This just seems like an ideal fit. Josh Allen needs some help up front, specifically along the interior. Maybe TCU's Steve Avila should be the choice here. But Torrence looks like he might be the best all-around guard in the class.
29. Cincinnati Bengals: Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia
There just aren't many humans like Washington walking the planet. He's 6-foot-7, 265 pounds, and he clocked the third-quickest short-shuttle time across positions at this year's combine. Almost offensive-tackle sized. Receiver-timed quickness. Mind-boggling stuff. Joe Burrow will love him.
30. New Orleans Saints (via 49ers): Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson
Derek Carr is getting all the attention in the Big Easy right now, but they need to add on the defensive side of the ball. Bresee's power at the point of attack should be used across situations and should help a run defense that ranked in the bottom half of the NFL last season.
31. Philadelphia Eagles: Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson
Roseman strikes again. Some consider Murphy worthy of a top-10 selection. Teams picking that early may be scared off by his lack of polish and explosiveness. But here? Worth it. He's a power player off the edge (6-foot-5, 268 pounds) who should help keep that constantly-changing rush unit in Philly fresh.
32. Kansas City Chiefs: Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia
Hard to find two more different types of pass-rushers in back-to-back picks here. Smith is a tad undersized but a ridiculous athlete, as he showed at this year's combine.