Patriots make history at 2023 NFL Draft with Chad Ryland, Bryce Baringer picks
Patriots make NFL history in on-brand fashion with Day 3 draft picks originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
We know Bill Belichick loves special teamers. So if any team was going to break the streak, it had to be the New England Patriots.
The Patriots used not one but two Day 3 picks on specialists in the 2023 NFL Draft on Sunday. First, they traded up to No. 112 to select Maryland kicker Chad Ryland in Round 4. Then they picked Michigan state punter Bryce Baringer in the sixth round at No. 192 overall.
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When is the last time an NFL team selected a kicker and a punter in the same draft? You have to go back 23 years to the 2000 Raiders.
In fact, the Raiders and Patriots are the only two teams to double dip on specialists since the NFL Draft expanded to seven rounds in 1994, per NFL Research.
As you can see above, this strategy worked out for the Raiders: Sebastian Janikowski was the team's starting kicker for 17 seasons, while Shane Lechler earned six First-Team All-Pro nods over 13 seasons in Oakland as one of the best punters of the modern era.
Then again, the 2000 Raiders could afford to spend draft capital on special teamers: That squad went 12-4 behind Pro Bowl quarterback Rich Gannon and reached the Super Bowl two seasons later.
The Patriots could use new blood in the kicking game: Kicker Nick Folk saw a drop-off in production last season after two strong seasons with New England and turns 39 in November, while punter Jake Bailey only played in nine games last season before the team released him this offseason.
So, the hope is that Ryland and Baringer will help improve one of the NFL's worst special teams units in 2022. Whether that helps the Patriots improve on their 8-9 record and reach the postseason remains to be seen.