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Winners and losers from Patriots’ 2023 draft

The arrival of 12 brand new rookies for the New England Patriots isn’t good news for everyone on the roster.

It could mean the end of the road for veteran players or signal a change in future contract negotiations. The NFL is a revolving door that churns out new talent every year, and there is plenty to pick from in the Patriots’ 2023 draft class.

They focused heavily on the defensive side of the ball in the first three rounds and were lucky enough to have arguably the top cornerback in the entire draft fall to them at No. 17 overall.

The team then shifted focus to the offensive line and special teams, before finally adding a couple of receivers late in the draft. This year’s draft should be considered a monumental success for coach Bill Belichick and the Patriots, at least on paper.

Here are the winners and losers from the event:

Winner: Mac Jones

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After being the subject of offseason trade rumors, Patriots quarterback Mac Jones is still the leading man under center.

The Patriots didn’t draft Will Levis or any other quarterback for that matter. Not only did the team pass on adding a quarterback, but coach Bill Belichick admitted to feeling the same way about Jones in 2023 as he felt about him in 2022, when Jones was coming off a Pro Bowl season.

Go ahead and cue the campfire sounds of “Kumbaya” for a Patriots team that appears to be on the same page ahead of the regular season.

Winner: Riley Reiff

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One of the biggest criticisms for the Patriots following the draft was the fact that they didn’t take a single offensive tackle, despite having 12 picks.

That’s good news for 34-year-old veteran Riley Reiff, who is projected to start across from Trent Brown. The fact that Reiff has $4.5 million in guaranteed money tied to his contract was always a good indication that the Patriots viewed him as more than just a training camp body.

There has been talk of rookie guard Sidy Sow potentially kicking outside to tackle, but as of right now, Reiff appears to be firmly entrenched as a starter.

Loser: Myles Bryant

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The arrival of Christian Gonzalez only means less opportunities for Myles Bryant in the defensive backfield.

It also doesn’t help that cornerback Jonathan Jones re-signed with the team in free agency, and both Jack Jones and Marcus Jones will likely be even better in Year 2 of their NFL careers.

Marcus Jones has already emerged as the Patriots’ main punt returner, and the team drafted rookie defensive back Isaiah Bolden, who has experience returning kicks. So there may not be as many return opportunities, if any, for Bryant.

Winner: Tyquan Thornton

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For better or worse, the Patriots didn’t go after a new hot shot receiver. They had an opportunity to get Jaxon Smith-Njiga, Zay Flowers or Quentin Johnston but passed on all three.

They didn’t pick a receiver until the sixth round, when they took a pair of fliers on Kayshon Boutte and Demario Douglas.

That’s great news for Tyquan Thornton, who will have another chance to establish himself as a true offensive difference-maker in his second season. However, there won’t be the excuse of a Matt Patricia-led offense holding him back this time around. This could be a make-or-break year for Thornton.

Loser: Nick Folk

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Nick Folk turns 39 years old in November, and the Patriots traded up into the fourth round to draft rookie kicker Chad Ryland.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that the end could be nearing for Folk in New England. The other side of the coin is Folk beating out the youngster for the starting job, and the Patriots coming to the realization that they wasted a fourth-round draft pick on a kicker.

So the hope is for Ryland to work his way into replacing Folk as the new starter.

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Story originally appeared on Patriots Wire