Full seven-round Patriots’ 2023 NFL re-draft
The New England Patriots didn’t miss much in the 2023 NFL draft, which should be considered a major success for the organization.
Granted, there are no certainties until the rookies actually back up their hyped potential on the football field, but the Patriots meticulously worked their way up and down the board with great effect.
That doesn’t mean there weren’t missed opportunities for the team to capitalize on. There were plenty of potential game-changers left on the board by a Patriots team that made some bold moves in this year’s draft, including moving up to take a kicker in the fourth round.
Now that mock drafting season is over, it’s time to start exploring a 2023 re-draft for the Patriots. In this seven-round re-draft, we’re going to pretend like the board unfolds the exact same way in terms of where players are taken. A couple of the trades remain, but there is another trade thrown in that enables the Patriots to come away with a major offensive weapon.
Here’s how the draft do-over panned out:
TRADE: Pittsburgh Steelers trade up for Patriots' No. 14 overall pick
Patriots get: No. 17 pick, No. 120 pick
Steelers get: No. 14 pick
There was always a possibility Bill Belichick was going to trade down considering he already had an arsenal of draft picks coming into the event. It obviously wasn’t the most popular move, especially for fans that wanted to see him be more aggressive, but it ultimately ended up paying off in a big way for the Patriots.
Round 1, pick No. 17: Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
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Everyone that has been following the mock drafts know I’ve been screaming to the moon for the Patriots to draft Boston College wideout Zay Flowers. The offense clearly needs an explosive playmaker and a true No. 1 option to keep opposing defenses on their heels.
But who would have thought Oregon cornerback Christian Gonzalez would still be on the board at No. 17?
This was a no-brainer pick for the Patriots, who have been tremendous at developing cornerbacks over the years. Hell would freeze over before I’d bet the house on Belichick getting it right at receiver, but when it comes to drafting a great cornerback, I’m all in with the legendary coach.
Gonzalez, who was projected as a top-10 pick on most draft boards, fills a serious need for a Patriots team that’s considerably undersized at the cornerback position. They also got another draft pick in the process.
How sweet is that?
Round 2, pick No. 46: Keion White, DE, Georgia Tech
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I’m sure it’s beginning to feel like a strong sense of déjà vu right about now, but in all honesty, the Patriots made the right choice with Keion White as well.
The guy will be a monster along the defensive front for years to come. He’s a massive human being with rare athleticism and speed for a man his size. This was a projected first-round pick that fell on the board. So this draft selection is another win for the Patriots.
The havoc White can cause up front with Matthew Judon and Josh Uche will be fun to watch.
Round 3, pick No. 76: Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina
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The Patriots didn’t get Flowers or Jaxon Smith-Njigba, but they do come away with North Carolina speedy wideout Josh Downs.
He’s slippery with the ball in his hands and capable of turning short-yardage passing plays into huge gains. The blazing speed and quick footwork alone, especially in the slot, should have been enough to pique New England’s interest. They’ve done wonders with players in that role historically.
There’s nothing wrong with taking late fliers on receivers, but the Downs pick brings a bit more security in that regard.
TRADE: Patriots trade up to No. 89 pick with Los Angeles Rams
Patriots get: Pick No. 89
Rams get: Pick No. 107 and Pick No. 135
With four fourth-round picks at their disposal, the Patriots make a dramatic trade up back into the latter-half of the third round with a Rams team that was wheeling and dealing like crazy on the board.
Round 3, pick No. 89: Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia
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Great players have surprisingly fallen into the Patriots’ lap throughout this draft, but they trade up to get another one of those players this time with Georgia tight end Darnell Washington still on the board.
Washington has rare size at the position, and he would fill an immediate blocking need for the Patriots. But the hope with this player is that he could develop into somewhat of a new Rob Gronkowski for the team.
He showed glimpses of greatness during his run with Georgia, and a tight end-loving coach like Bill O’Brien could take his game to the next level.
TRADE: Patriots trade up to No. 112 with New York Jets to get their defensive player
Patriots get: Pick No. 112
Jets get: Pick No. 120, Pick No. 184
The Patriots trade up to get a small-school linebacker they’ve been eyeing since the third round.
Round 4, pick No. 112: Marte Mapu, LB, Sacramento State
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I loved the Marte Mapu pick as much as anyone, but I can’t help but feel like the Patriots could have waited a bit on this one. This time around, they get their receiver and a talented tight end, while waiting a bit longer to get Mapu in the fourth round.
Instead of getting a kicker, the Patriots trade up to get another possible defensive game-changer in Mapu.
Some outlets had him going as late as the seventh round in this draft. He’s an explosive talent with a versatile build to play multiple positions defensively. So we won’t roll the dice for too long on taking his name off the draft board.
Round 4, pick No. 117: Jake Andrews, C, Troy
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Like the Mapu pick, the Patriots might have been able to wait a bit longer on drafting Troy center Jake Andrews.
The team desperately needed to start looking to the future behind starting center David Andrews, and Jake fits the bill as a tough, gritty offensive lineman with the ability to play all three inside positions.
This was a tremendous pick by the Patriots, and although we’ll never know how the actual board would have unfolded, the original timing of the pick does come into question.
Round 6, pick No. 187: Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU
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After taking Downs in the third round, the Patriots still take a late flier on Kayshon Boutte with the No. 187 overall pick in the sixth round.
Boutte has the talent to take off as one of the best future receivers in the league, but it will all depend on his ability to put the pieces together on the field. This is an incredibly high ceiling and low risk sort of situation for the Patriots.
There’s no way they were passing this up.
Round 6, pick No. 192: Chad Ryland, K, Maryland
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The San Francisco 49ers drafting Michigan kicker Jake Moody in the third round might have forced the Patriots to hit the panic button and take Maryland kicker Chad Ryland earlier than intended.
In this draft, they wait until the later rounds to start addressing the special teams positions. Ryland is the second-best kicker on the board, and the Patriots need to start looking to a future beyond an aging Nick Folk.
Round 6: pick No. 210: Bryce Baringer, P, Michigan State
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The Patriots wait a few picks later to get their punter of the future.
Bryce Baringer averaged 46 yards per kick in 161 total punts for the Spartans. So he is more than ready to come in and compete with Corliss Waitman for Jake Bailey’s former job.
The team is still searching for a suitable replacement after moving on from Bailey, less than a year after making him one of the league’s top-three highest-paid punters.
Round 7, pick No. 254: Isaiah Bolden, CB, Jackson State
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Isaiah Bolden is a defensive player with real upside as a cornerback, but more importantly, he can help out immediately on special teams as a kick returner.
The Patriots are looking to improve on special teams, and a player like Bolden would help them do it with his shifty moves and quick feet in the open field. He isn’t an easy guy to get a clean hit on, and he’d couple real nicely with a Patriots team that’s already creating nightmares with Marcus Jones returning punts.