The 2023 NFL Draft has officially come to a close.
The Patriots selected 12 (!!) players over the weekend, the most for them since 2010.
Here are some quick hit thoughts on each of their selections:
Round 1, Pick 17: Christian Gonzalez – CB, Oregon
New England started the draft out with a bang, trading back three spots from their original spot of 14 and landing arguably the best cornerback in the class.
Filling a glaring need, Gonzalez is 6’1″and will slot in as the Patriots long boundary corner. This will allow Jalen Mills to move to safety, Jon Jones to move back to the slot, and Jack Jones to become your CB2.
Gonzo is CB1.
Round 2, Pick 46: Keion White – DE, Georgia Tech
Keion White from Georgia Tech was a potential first-round pick who fell into New England’s lap at pick 46.
A transfer from Old Dominion, the 6’5″, 285-pound defensive end tallied 54 tackles and 7.5 sacks in 2022 for the Yellow Jackets. With Josh Uche in a contact year, White will have a chance to prove himself and compete for a starting role in 2024.
Round 3, Pick 76: Marte Mapu – LB/S, Sacramento State
A bit of reach here for Mapu, but he’s a dynamic player who can play multiple positions both in the box and on the backend of your defense.
He’s a little light to play linebacker at just 221 pounds and may not have a role in the stacked Patriots safety room right away, but Mapu’s upside was too much for Groh and co. to pass up.
Round 4, Pick 107: Jake Andrews – C, Troy
Here’s where the redundancy started to set in. New England already has a top-tier center in David Andrews.
I’m not saying backup at the position shouldn’t have been on the radar and wasn’t a need, but I don’t think it was a need at pick 107. Andrews was simply overdrafted.
Round 4, Pick 112: Chad Ryland – K, Maryland
So long, Nick Folk. New England not only drafted a kicker in the fourth round, but they traded up for him.
I love the pick. The Patriots finally identified a need, were aggressive, and got their guy. Much better than sticking, picking, and settling which it felt like they did with Mapu and Andrews. The former Terrapin brings experience kicking in elements to the table for New England.
Round 4, Pick 117: Sidy Sow – G, Eastern Michigan
Sidy Sow from Eastern Michigan is a 6’5″, 323-pound interior offensive lineman who put himself on teams’ radar with a 5.07 second 40 at the Combine.
A bit redundant perhaps, as New England seemingly is okay at IOL, but he’s experienced, having played 56 games over five seasons with the Eagles, and Matt Groh alluded to him playing tackle as well given his size.
Round 5, Pick 144: Atonio Mafi – G, UCLA
Another redundant pick here in Mafi, but he’s someone who I had graded higher than Sow at guard.
Mafi was a Shrine Bowl player for the Patriots, and while he may not play for New England right away, his selection made their objective for the weekend clear: protect Mac Jones up the middle at all costs.
Round 6, Pick 187: Kayshon Boutte – WR, LSU
What a pick. Kayshon Boutte was widely considered a first-round talent prior to his final season at LSU, but both a foot injury and some “coachability concerns” allowed him to fall to the Patriots at pick 187.
Boutte is 5’11”, 195 pounds, and is a game-changing playmaker who’s been comp’d to Deebo Samuel. As Matt Groh told us on Saturday, he’s got all the potential in the world.
Round 6, Pick 192: Bryce Baringer – P, Michigan State
The Baringer pick here solidified the Patriots becoming the first team since 2000 to draft both a kicker and a punter in the same draft class.
Baringer was widely regarded as the best punter in the class, and the position is certainly a need after Jake Bailey’s suspension and subsequent release. A solid selection in the sixth round.
Round 6, Pick 210: Demario Douglas – WR, Liberty
Douglas, who worked with the Patriots at the Shrine Bowl, is an athletic freak who ran a 4.44s 40-yard dash while putting up a 39.5” vertical and an 11’2” broad jump at the NFL Combine.
He’s just 5’8” 179 pounds, but he’s a shift pass catcher who can play both inside and out. Worth the shot at pick 192.
Round 6, Pick 214: Ameer Speed – CB, Michigan State
Speaking of speed, the Ameer Speed pick confused me a bit.
There were some much larger needs on the board here, and with quality prospects still available (i.e. tight end Zack Kuntz).
Speed is a long cornerback who projects out as a special teamer – if he makes the roster.
Round 7, Pick 245: Isaiah Bolden – CB/KR/PR, Jackson State
New England rounded out the draft with yet another corner, this time with Isaiah Bolden from Jackson State.
The intriguing part of his game is his versatility, and he said it himself: “I’m a corner who’s real versatile… versatility is a big thing in my game.”
Bolden was one of the best return specialists in the country last season, averaging an NCAA-high 36.9 yards per return. He called it “his bread and butter”.