One last time for the people in the back!
We’re now less than 48 hours away from the 2023 NFL Draft, so 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Alex Barth hit the PFF Mock Draft Simulator one more time prior to the real thing this weekend.
The Patriots left this one with:
- A boundary cornerback
- A wide receiver
- Offensive line depth
- Michael Turk
That’s a win.
Here are the results from Mock 8.0:
Round 1, Pick 14: Devon Witherspoon – CB, Illinois
Both tackle Paris Johnson and cornerback Devon Witherspoon fell to 14 in this version of the simulator, so we went with the larger need.
Some will panic and say that New England needs to protect Mac Jones, and they do, but the larger need right now is a true boundary cornerback. The 5’11” Witherspoon will bring you exactly that.
He’s a physical, hard-hitter and is high-quality tackler, tallying 42 of them in 2022. He also intercepted three passes, deflected 14, and allowed an NCAA low 24.6 QBR against him.
Round 2, Pick 37: Josh Downs – WR, North Carolina
TRADE DETAILS: Patriots receive pick 37 from Seattle for R2 (46), R4 (117)
UNC’s Josh Downs fits the mold of a Bill O’Brien slot receiver perfectly. Though on the smaller end at 5’9″ 171 pounds, he’s an elite route runner and understands how to get open and read leverage in coverage. He’s arguably the best route runner in the class behind Jaxon Smith-Njigba.
Sure, the Patriots added JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mike Gesicki this offseason during free agency, but they still more weapons for Mac Jones to work with.
Downs and his 4.48s 40-yard dash speed come in and make an impact immediately.
Round 3, Pick 76: Byron Young – EDGE, Tennessee
A candidate for last week’s “Speed Draft“, Tennessee EDGE rusher Byron Young is the pick at 76.
New England isn’t likely to leave the top-100 without beef. Young brings that at 6’2” 250-pounds, and he also brings speed, having run a 4.43s 40 at the Combine.
Josh Uche is in a contract year, so while Young would have a chance to make an impact this coming season, his real opportunity would come in 2024.
Round 4, Pick 107: Warren McClendon – OT, Georgia
After a couple of free agent signings in Riley Reiff and Calvin Anderson, New England continues adding to their tackle depth with Georgia OT Warren McClendon.
The Patriots met with McClendon over Zoom during the pre-draft process according to Justin Melo of the Draft Network, so the interest is there. McClendon is a 6’4” 306-pound tackle with upside as an eventual starter. He’ll be a depth piece in 2023.
Round 4, Pick 135: Andrew Vorhees – IOL, USC
Similar to the Cameron McGrone pick from a few seasons ago, the Patriots use a redshirt year pick on Andrew Vorhees.
The 6’6″ 310-pound interior offensive lineman was a monster for the Trojans over the last three seasons, but unfortunately suffered a torn ACL at the NFL Combine and will miss the entire 2023 season. If New England doesn’t sign guard Mike Onwenu to a contract extension and lets him walk in free agency, Vorhees would have a change to fill his role in 2024.
Round 5, Pick 171: Michael Turk – P, Oklahoma
TRADE DETAILS: Patriots receive pick 171 from LA Rams for R6 (184), R6 (2024)
Following the Jake Bailey model, New England trades up into the fifth round to select punter Michael Turk from Oklahoma.
Turk worked with the Patriots at the Shine Bowl, Bill Belichick was infatuated with him, and he’s also a freak athlete (think Pat McAfee).
Corliss Waitman is New England’s only rostered punter, so Turk comes in to compete for the job.
Round 6, Pick 187: Will Mallory – TE, Miami
New England is set at tight end for now, but it’ll be a crapshoot after that with both Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki in contract years in 2023.
Miami’s Will Mallory is an athletic freak. He was the fastest tight end at the NFL Combine in February with a 4.54s 40-yard dash. Though he leaves some to be desired as a blocker, he caught 42 passes for 538 yards and 3 TD for the Hurricanes last season and could develop as a quality receiving option in 2024.
Round 6, Pick 192: Scott Matlock – DL, Boise State
Scott Matlock from Boise State took a visit to New England earlier this offseason, and was also a Shine Bowl participant with the Patriots back in February.
The 6’4″ 300-pound defensive lineman was a force to be reckoned with on the interior for the Broncos, and would add depth behind Christian Barmore and the aging Lawrence Guy.
Round 6, Pick 210: Mohamed Ibrahim – RB, Minnesota
Minnesota running back Mo Ibrahim ran for 1,665 yards in 2023, good for third in the nation, and tallied 20 touchdowns on top of that.
Ibrahim has some room to improve as a pass catcher, but a proven workhorse who could immediately take some of the load off of Rhamondre Stevenson, especially with Damien Harris gone.
Round 7, Pick 245: Eric Scott Jr. – CB, Southern Miss
Once again, New England selects a Shrine Bowl player in a mock draft.
Southern Miss’ Eric Scott Jr. is 6’0″, 197 pounds, and spent some 1-on-1 time with Bill Belichick out in Las Vegas. He has the ability to play special teams while learning behind the rest of the defensive backs, which would give him a real shot at making the 53-man roster come late August.
That’s it for us on Mock Draft season! We’ll be back on Patriot Beat Thursday morning for a pre-draft Q+A, Friday morning for a post-round one recap, and Sunday afternoon to talk about the entire weekend! Make sure to subscribe on YouTube @PatriotsPressPass.
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