ESPN's seven-round 2023 NFL Mock Draft has a few Patriots surprises
New seven-round 2023 NFL Mock Draft has a few Patriots surprises originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
We've spent plenty of oxygen discussing who the New England Patriots will take with the No. 14 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
But if you know Bill Belichick, you know his team makes its hay in the later rounds.
That could be the case again in 2023. While New England has two picks in the top 50 selections, the team also has three fourth-round picks and four sixth-round selections for a total of 11 picks over seven rounds.
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So, who will the Patriots target with a majority of their draft capital? ESPN's Jordan Reid bravely projected all seven rounds in an epic 2023 NFL Mock Draft that includes predictions for all 11 of New England's picks.
Below are Reid's Patriots picks (and analysis, where applicable), followed by our Phil Perry's selections for each New England pick in his recent seven-round, Patriots-specific mock draft.
First Round, No. 14: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
2023 NFL Draft Highlights: DB Devon Witherspoon - Illinois
While the Patriots haven't taken a cornerback higher than No. 27 (Devin McCourty in 2010) under Belichick, Witherspoon is "too good to pass up" at No. 14, writes Reid.
"At 6 feet, 181 pounds, he plays with a consistent physical nature, and Belichick and the defensive coaches could fall in love with him. With the versatility to play inside in nickel as well as on the outside, Witherspoon has the technique to immediately fit into the complex New England defense."
Phil Perry's pick: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
Second Round, No. 46: Matthew Bergeron, OT, Syracuse
Offensive tackle "might be New England's biggest need," writes Reid, and Bergeron "is an intriguing prospect who has shown dominant flashes as a run blocker."
"He must improve his strength and balance as a pass protector, however," Reid added. "He allowed three sacks in 11 starts last season."
Perry recently tabbed Bergeron as one of his "Prototypical Patriots" offensive tackles, citing his athleticism and wealth of ACC experience.
Phil Perry's pick: Julius Brents, CB, Kansas State
Third Round, No. 76: Cedric Tillman, WR, Tennessee
Reid compares the 6-foot-3 Tillman to Buffalo Bills wide receiver Gabe Davis, noting that he averaged 16.9 yards per reception in 2021. That number dropped to 11.3 in 2022, but the big-bodied still would make for an intriguing red zone target.
Phil Perry's pick: Tucker Kraft, TE, South Dakota State
Fourth Round, No. 107: Mike Morris, Edge, Michigan
The Patriots have selected at least one Michigan product in four consecutive drafts, and they make it five here by drafting a player they hope is more Josh Uche than Chase Winovich.
Phil Perry's pick: Jonathan Mingo, WR, Ole Miss
Fourth Round, No. 117: Sydney Brown, S, Illinois
New England could use safety help in the wake of McCourty's retirement (even after converting Jalen Mills to safety), and Brown comes NFL-ready with five seasons of Big Ten experience under his belt.
Phil Perry's pick: Jon Gaines II, OL, UCLA
Fourth Round, No. 135: Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon
The younger brother of Detroit Lions offensive lineman and 2021 first-round pick Penei Sewell, Noah would add some extra depth to a linebacker core that could use some extra juice in 2023.
Phil Perry's pick: YaYa Diaby, DE, Louisville
Sixth Round, No. 184: Matt Landers, WR, Arkansas
Reid and Perry are aligned on the Patriots taking a late-round flyer on a wideout. Reid's choice is the 6-foot-5, 200-pound Landers, who amassed 901 yards and eight touchdowns on 47 catches for the Razorbacks last season.
Phil Perry's pick: Tre Tucker, WR, Cincinnati
Sixth Round, No. 187: Juice Scruggs, OL, Penn State
Speaking of adding extra juice... The 6-foot-3, 315-pound Scruggs is a candidate for this year's All-Name Team and also gives the Patriots more depth where it's sorely needed up front.
Phil Perry's pick: Jack Coletto, FB, Oregon State
Sixth Round, No. 192: Jaren Hall, QB, BYU
This one's an eye-opener. Hall posted solid numbers as a senior (3,171 passing yards, 31 touchdown passes, six interceptions) while adding 350 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, but do the Patriots need another QB with two young arms already on the roster in Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe? Following Brian Hoyer's release, it can't hurt to have a late-round project.
Phil Perry's pick: Dorian Thompson-Robinson, QB, UCLA
Sixth Round, No. 210: Hunter Luepke, FB/TE, North Dakota State
Luepke is what you might call a blue-collar dual threat who racked up 619 rushing yards and nine touchdowns as a fullback and 196 receiving yards and four touchdowns as a tight end in 2022. You could argue the Patriots should take a tight end sooner (Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki are both free agents after the season), but better late than never, right?
Phil Perry's pick: Daniel Scott, S, California
Seventh Round, No. 245: Bryce Baringer, P, Michigan State
Belichick loves a good punter, and the Patriots need one after releasing Jake Bailey. So, he turns to the Big Ten once more to snag the conference's Punter of the Year in Round 7.
Phil Perry's pick: Adam Korsak, P, Rutgers