The New England Patriots could use a serious upgrade at offensive tackle, but ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. has them addressing the defensive backfield in his recent 2023 NFL mock draft.
With the No. 14 overall pick, Kiper has the Patriots selecting Illinois cornerback Devon Witherspoon.
It’s a solid pick if the Patriots prioritize fortifying their defensive backfield over the offensive line. Witherspoon made the First-Team All-Big Ten in the 2022 season after finishing with 41 tackles, three interceptions and 14 pass deflections.
The Patriots might need some help at cornerback if they lose Jonathan Jones in free agency. There are also concerns with Jack Jones, who already came with off-the-field concerns and was suspended near the end of the season after reportedly talking back to coach Bill Belichick.
When it comes to the Witherspoon draft selection, Kiper wrote:
“Witherspoon is my top-ranked corner, a long and physical player who shut down an entire side of the field for the Fighting Illini. He also is not afraid to stick his head in and make a tackle.
Outside of corner, New England could target offensive line or wide receiver with this pick to try to support quarterback Mac Jones, who struggled in Year 2.”
Adding another potential playmaker to a defensive unit that led the charge during the season would be a Belichick kind of move. As a cornerback, a feisty option who comes with incredibly athleticism and size like Witherspoon would only make things better.