3 unexpected Patriots players who could make a big impact in 2023

There is still hope that the New England Patriots will add to their wide receiver core by signing former All-Pro wideout DeAndre Hopkins, as they have been long linked to him since rumors first began on his availability.

Whether that’s a mere dream or reality is up for debate. But one thing we do know is there are some under-the-radar players currently on the roster that could end up making a big impact in 2023.

These players aren’t being talked about enough, and that could all change at some point this season. A breakout showing from any of the players on this list would do wonders for the Patriots and their playoff chances.

Ty Montgomery

Ty Montgomery looked primed for a big role on offense in 2022 before going down with a season-ending injury early on. He was poised to replace James White’s much-needed third-down running back role, and his injury left the Patriots to flounder in search of a replacement for a key function of the offense.

That is until Rhamondre Stevenson broke out as a true workhorse dual threat running back. The Patriots brought in James Robinson to replace Damien Harris and have so far seen good things from Pierre Strong Jr. and Kevin Harris as backend depth.

With those additions, it’s a clear signal they want to keep the worn tread on Stevenson to a minimum and will supplement drives with Strong and Robinson, while Montgomery would reassume the third-down back role.

Robinson and Strong can also compete for the role, but their value will be as change-of-pace backs who offer upside as pass-catchers. The Patriots likely want to move away from the one-dimensional backfield, where defenses can determine the play based on who is in the backfield, as what happened with Sony Michel and Damien Harris to an extent.

Montgomery should be the lead for third-down back, which will allow Bill O’Brien to get creative with personnel and motions to optimize matchups across the board.

Christian Barmore

Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports
Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Barmore was ready to take a Year 2 leap after a successful 2021 season, but he suffered injuries that kept him out of action for a significant chunk of the 2002 season. Barmore has raw talent that could translate to one of the best interior players in the league, and if he can stay healthy, he should make an impact in 2023 along the defensive line.

His impact is more than just sacks or tackles for a loss, as he pressures the pocket at a high clip, all while drawing double teams all game. His presence alone makes things easier for Matthew Judon, Deatrich Wise, Davon Godchaux and Josh Uche. It could also pair nicely to versatile rookie defensive lineman Keion White as a one-two punch on passing downs.

If Barmore can stay healthy, the Patriots’ front seven could be scary good and make the defense even better than expected.

Riley Reiff

Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports
Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

One of the downfalls of the Patriots’ 2022 season had to do with the lackluster offensive line, particularly lack of depth and poor tackle play.

The Patriots addressed this by adding Calvin Anderson and Riley Reiff as veterans who could come compete and likely make the roster to provide some much-needed tackle depth. They also drafted Sidy Sow, who will get a left tackle run early, despite being drafted as a guard.

Reiff could be the catalyst for this offense for the 2023 season simply because he provides a veteran presence and can still play tackle at an above average clip.

He will allow Mac Jones to have some much-needed time to process and get rid of the ball. So this was definitely one of those offseason pick-ups that a lot of people have been underestimating.

Right tackle was a massive need, and the Patriots filled it temporarily with a veteran stop gap. Sure, he might not be elite or even Pro Bowl level, but serviceable is better than what the team had in 2022.

With Anderson and Conor McDermott there as depth, there is optimism for better play all-around in 2023.

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Story originally appeared on Patriots Wire