I stuck with no trades for this third installment but targeted only offensive players for a better sense of which weapons, blockers, and passers could be available at New England’s current draft slots.
Did I put the Patriots in a position to kick off a new dynasty? Doom the franchise for eternity (or at least the next couple of seasons)? Scroll and see!
R1-14: WR Zay Flowers, Boston College (PFF Big Board: #29, D+)
In a draft full of undersized ballers, Flowers is the standard amongst his peers. His three-level playmaking ability from both inside and outside is exactly what the Patriots’ receiving corp lacks. New England’s staff is also very familiar with Flowers after coaching him at the Senior Bowl and bringing him in for a Top-30 visit. Not only was Flowers used in Julian Edelman’s slot role out of empty sets, but it’s also hard not to think of the former Patriots great when watching Flowers create separation short-to-intermediate.
(leans forward) pic.twitter.com/Xml6oRPFMy
— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) April 13, 2023
R2-46: WR Josh Downs, North Carolina (PFF Big Board: #40, A)
With the Las Vegas Patriots selecting Jahmyr Gibbs at #38, Downs was too good to pass up on. Though Downs’ 5’8″, 171 lb frame will likely keep him in the slot, he’s similarly dynamic to Flowers downfield and after the catch. He also plays much bigger than his size would suggest, maximizing his catch radius by attacking the ball in-flight.
Our @ThePretendGM thinks Josh Downs is one of the safest rookies in this year's draft class.
— Footballguys | Fantasy Football (@Footballguys) April 14, 2023
Downs route-running is nuanced and deliberate, using pace and subtle tactics to manipulate defenders before blowing past them. After finishing his college career with back-to-back First Team All-ACC honors, Downs’ resume speaks for itself.
R3-76: OT Tyler Steen, Alabama (PFF Big Board: #106, C+)
After four years at Vanderbilt, Steen earned Second Team All-ACC honors in his only year under Bill O’Brien at Alabama. He’s a nasty, effective, and versatile run-blocker who shows exceptional hands and athleticism in pass protection. Steen also has experience at right tackle and raised his stock during the Senior Bowl, showing the versatility kick inside to left guard. He needs to be more consistent with his footwork and tends to give ground early in reps, but has shown the ability to re-anchor against power.
Tyler Steen's hands don't initially land, but good recovery here pic.twitter.com/oPwVwTm1fX
— Tyler Browning (@DiabeticTyler) April 14, 2023
Steen likely won’t start Week 1, but he could supplant Riley Reiff mid-to-late season.
R4-107: TE Luke Schoonmaker, Michigan (PFF Big Board: #96, D+)
Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki are good players, but neither is an exceptional blocker and both are free agents next offseason. Schoonmaker would give New England another versatile tight end who solves both problems. He’s a smart, tough, and versatile player who could contribute heavily as a rookie.
Luke Schoonmaker Michigan
*Tall, lean target
*Agile releasing off the LOS
*Fluid body control
*Extension of the offensive line
*Blocking immediately pops
Gets hands inside
Constantly fighting to win hand leverage
Creates lift… pic.twitter.com/3MkpAkBWkV
— Erik Turner (@ErikJTurner) March 4, 2023
Schoonmaker’s one of the best blockers at his position in this class and can execute multiple assignments from different positions. While not the most dynamic receiver, he is reliable and a good athlete. The Patriots’ staff also has hands-on experience with Schoonmaker after coaching him at the East-West Shrine Bowl.
R4-117: RB Kendre Miller, TCU (PFF Big Board: #97, B+)
It’s hard not to think of Rhamondre Stevenson when watching Kendre Miller’s vision and contact balance. He shows great patience to maximize rushing lanes, but creates his own yards with physicality, nifty running, and relentless effort.
Kendre Miller's contact balance pic.twitter.com/joeF37UsH6
— Billy M (@BillyM_91) April 9, 2023
Miller will need to improve his ball security, which could be partially attrtibuted to his upright running style, and his receiving experience is limited. Bill Belichick was seen chatting with Miller during TCU’s Pro Day, which the back didn’t participate in as he recovers from a knee injury suffered in the Fiesta Bowl. With both of New England’s projected veteran backups coming off knee injuries and no proven depth behind them, it would make sense to add another body to the backfield.
R4-135: WR Tyler Scott, Cincinatti (PFF Big Board: #119, B)
If you give me one of the draft’s most explosive players at the end of the 4th round, I’m pulling the trigger. Scott is another Mighty Mite-type receiver who outperforms his measurables, but he may be the only player in that group who can truly line up at any spot.
I had never heard of Tyler Scott until I read his interview with @jacobinfante24 and this guy can PLAY
Outstanding athlete that can win at all 3 levels of the field, plus he makes some impressive hands catches throughout this reel. I like him in Late Round 2/Early Round 3, stud pic.twitter.com/eUX7aOLE1Y
— Robert Schmitz (@robertkschmitz) April 10, 2023
Scott can win outside with quickness at the line and serious deep receiving ability. Though Scott spent most of his career as a running back, that skill set shows after the catch, making him a threat downfield and underneath. His role could be similar to Phillip Dorsett, who played a lot of X for New England despite not fitting the typical body type. And if the Patriots find themselves with too many bodies at receiver, whichever rookie fails to separate himself could always be cleverly stashed for a red-shirt season.
R6-184: OT Asim Richards, North Carolina (PFF Big Board: #217, F)
Full disclosure, I didn’t know much about Richards until offensive line guru Brandon Thorn mentioned the left tackle on Twitter last week. But it’s easy to see why Thorn is fond of him, as Richards is a good athlete with length and size who held up well against potential 1st-rounder Keion White.
LT Asim Richards, UNC
*Exceptional body symmetry
*Very good balance
*Strong drive catch technique creates displacement
*Very efficient feet/footwork/active
*Strong core and hip muscles give him the ability to absorb power rushes
*Calculated movement to 2nd level in run game… pic.twitter.com/GuBYdbfKiW
— Erik Turner (@ErikJTurner) March 30, 2023
The Third Team All-ACC honoree played in every game the past three seasons and has some experience at guard. With Steen in-line to become the team’s next starting tackle, Richards could serve as developmental depth while he improves his ability to sustain blocks and combat inside rush moves.
R6-187: QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson, UCLA (PFF Big Board: #163, A)
The Patriots signed former Bill O’Brien-recruit Trace McSorley to the roster last week, but that won’t dissuade them from adding another quarterback if someone they like falls in the draft. Dorian Thompson-Robinson is a prospect who makes a ton of sense for New England. He played under Chip Kelly at UCLA after being recruited by 2020 Patriots quarterbacks coach Jedd Fisch and worked with New England at the Senior Bowl. Though undersized, Thompson-Robsinson is garnering 4th-round buzz due to his rare physical talent, natural feel as a passer, and ability to create outside of structure.
I've seen basically zero talk about Dorian Thompson-Robinson this draft season, so I just wanted remind people he's out there.
QBs with DTR's arm and athleticism always get drafted. pic.twitter.com/DJso6XTdWY
— Ryan McCrystal (@Ryan_McCrystal) April 7, 2023
His talent as a runner would also make him a valuable asset on scout-team and potentially in short-yardage situations on gamedays. That said, he has poor lower-body mechanics and his accuracy is too sporadic to see meaningful action anytime soon.
R6-192: OT Jordan McFadden, Clemson (PFF Big Board: #161, A+)
McFadden will likely switch to guard at the next level due to less-than-ideal measurables, but he checks a lot of boxes for the Patriots. He’s a three-year starter who didn’t miss a game over that span, a team captain, has experience at left and right tackle, and was coached by New England’s staff at the Shrine Bowl. He also earned First Team All-ACC honors in 2022. On the field, McFadden wins with outstanding length, footwork, and power.
#Clemson OL Jordan McFadden NFL Combine results
Wt: 303 LBS
40-YD: 4.99s (4th best OL)
10-YD Split: 1.74s
20-YD Shuttle: 4.81s
Put athleticism on full display today. 7th most snaps played in Clemson FB history, voted a permanent captain in ‘22 pic.twitter.com/z9iGAs99Of
— Johnny Falduto (@johnnyfalduto) March 6, 2023
McFadden will slip down boards due to his aforementioned measurables and inexperience playing inside, and he will need to work on his balance to at the next level. But the Patriots could use promising, developmental depth with top backip James Ferentz well into his 30’s and no proven talent behind him.
R6-210: WR Bryce Ford-Wheaton, West Virginia (PFF Big Board: #157, A+)
Without much quality line depth remaining at #157, I opted for a player who could significantly benefit the Patriots’ practice squad while developing into a potential game-changer. Ford-Wheaton scored a ridiculous 9.97/10 relative athletic score at 6’ 4’’, 221 lbs. He would offer excellent size to a diminutive wide receivers class for New England, making him a potential replacement at X for Devante Parker down the road.
WVU WR Bryce Ford-Wheaton.
Really impressive testing numbers.
10.9 Broad Jump
Has the physical profile of a Boundary X (3×1 sets). Run the fades, slants, deep in-breakers. Set up some WR screens, too. pic.twitter.com/sopRpRbfYp
— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) March 5, 2023
Ford-Wheaton is still very new to the nuances of the position and needs to learn to maximize his size before seeing game action. But his profile would be a huge benefit to the defense during practices in the mean time.