Patriots get No. 1 receiver in Mel Kiper’s latest 2023 mock draft

The wait is over for the New England Patriots when it comes to landing a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver capable of striking fear into the hearts of opposing defenses, according to Mel Kiper’s latest 2023 mock draft.

On Tuesday, the NFL analyst had the Patriots using the No. 14 overall pick on Ohio State All-American receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba.

Kiper wrote:

“The Patriots have a new offensive coordinator in Bill O’Brien and could look completely different on that side of the ball in 2023. That’s a good thing, because quarterback Mac Jones regressed last season. He’d benefit greatly from Smith-Njigba, a true No. 1 wideout who knows how to get open.”

The latter part of Kiper’s breakdown is like music to the ears of Patriots fans.

It has been a mountain to climb for the team when it comes to drafting and developing successful homegrown receivers. Jakobi Meyers is the most recent name that comes to mind, but he signed as an undrafted rookie out of NC State back in 2019. He’s also a pending free agent this offseason, which adds even more urgency for the Patriots to make a move at receiver.

Smith-Njigba missed most of the 2022 season due to a hamstring injury. However, in his previous year with the Buckeyes, he compiled 95 receptions for 1,606 yards and one touchdown.

There’s a bit of uncertainty there considering all of that production came in only one collegiate season, but Smith-Njigba has the size, ball-tracking skills and savviness in his routes to become Mac Jones’ new favorite receiving target.

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Story originally appeared on Patriots Wire