Patriots Draft Tracker: Analysis On Every New England Pick, Trade

Your one-stop shop for draft-day Patriots analysis


Apr 29, 2023

The 2023 NFL Draft officially is underway.

The New England Patriots entered Thursday night armed with a total of 11 selections: one on Day 1, two on Day 2 and eight on Day 3. Follow along with this tracker for’s rapid-fire take on each pick, along with any draft-day trades New England executes.

Click each draftee’s name for a deeper look at his skill set and his fit in New England. This post will be updated throughout the draft.

— No. 14 to Pittsburgh for Nos. 17 and 120

Analysis: For the third time in the last four drafts, the Patriots traded down on Day 1, netting an extra fourth-rounder to move back three spots.

The Steelers used the pick they acquired from New England to take Georgia’s Broderick Jones, the last of the perceived top-tier offensive tackles still on the board. Jones was a popular Patriots pick in mock drafts — including the first one we put out last month — but he lacks the collegiate experience the Patriots typically look for in their first-round picks. He only started 19 games in college and would have been the first redshirt sophomore drafted in Round 1 by New England under Bill Belichick.

Still, tackle is one of the Patriots’ biggest needs — arguably the biggest, with Trent Brown and Riley Reiff both entering contract years and carrying lengthy injury histories — so it’ll be very interesting to see how they address the position later in this draft.

Other prospects still available at the time of the trade included cornerbacks Christian Gonzalez, Joey Porter Jr. and Deonte Banks; wide receivers Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Zay Flowers; edge rushers Nolan Smith and Myles Murphy; and offensive tackle Anton Harrison. Gonzalez, in particular, was surprising, as he was widely projected as a top-10 pick as one of the top corners in this class. Illinois’ Devon Witherspoon was the first cornerback off the board, going fifth overall to Seattle.

Kentucky quarterback Will Levis also is tumbling down the board, but NBC Sports Boston’s Tom E. Curran reported before the draft that the Patriots would not take a QB in Round 1.

The Patriots also now are armed with four fourth-round picks that they can use to trade up on Day 2 if they choose. That wouldn’t be a surprise: They’ve traded up in the second round in each of the last five drafts.

— Nos. 120 and 184 to the New York Jets for No. 112

Analysis: A trade! The first since Day 1. And with the AFC East rival Jets! The Patriots moved up eight spots in Round 4 to select Maryland kicker Chad Ryland. Given that investment, he’ll be expected to beat out steady veteran Nick Folk in training camp.

— No. 135 to Las Vegas for Nos. 144 and 214

Analysis: On the clock with the last pick in the fourth round, the Patriots traded back into Round 5, allowing Dave Ziegler and Josh McDaniels to jump up nine spots to take Purdue quarterback Aiden O’Connell. New England received pick No. 214 in the deal, giving them five (!) sixth-rounders and one seventh.

Could they be targeting a punter with this move? Round 5 traditionally has been Belichick’s sweet spot for specialists. The Patriots also still haven’t taken a wide receiver, tight end or offensive tackle in this draft.

Round 1, 17th overall: CB Christian Gonzalez, Oregon
Analysis: What a win for the Patriots. Gonzalez was considered arguably the best cornerback in this year’s draft — if not, the second-best behind Devon Witherspoon — and New England was able to land him at No. 17 while also picking up an extra fourth-round pick in the process.

Gonzalez is an elite athlete, grabbed four interceptions with 11 passes defended last season, never missed a game due to injury in college and, at 6-foot-1, 197 bounds, will add some much-needed size and length to the Patriots’ shorter cornerback group. The only New England cornerback who topped 6 feet last season was Jalen Mills, and he reportedly is moving to safety. They needed a player with Gonzalez’s skill set.

A slam dunk off the top for Bill Belichick, who surely got a positive review of Gonzalez’s character from Adrian Klemm. The Patriots’ new O-line coach was an assistant at Oregon last season.

Gonzalez wound up being the third corner selected after Witherspoon and Mississippi State’s Emmanuel Forbes (No. 16 to Washington).

Round 2, 46th overall: DE Keion White, Georgia Tech
The Patriots used their top Day 2 pick on a big, versatile, athletic edge rusher. White missed most of the 2021 season with an injury but returned to notch 7 1/2 sacks and 14 tackles for loss last season.

Well-built at 6-foot-5, 285 pounds, White started his college career as a tight end at Old Dominion before switching to defense and later transferring to Georgia Tech. Pro Football Focus’s draft guide called him a “true athletic marvel.” He was the 28th-ranked player on Daniel Jeremiah’s big board and the No. 31 on Mel Kiper’s.

From Jeremiah:

White is a twitched-up edge rusher with a defensive tackle frame. Against the pass, he has an explosive first step and can really bend at the top of his rush. He can convert speed to power and refuses to stay blocked. He never stops working to free himself and he can stack one move after another. He is a freaky athlete in coverage. On tape, you can see him peel off and mirror running backs 30 yards down the field. He also showed off his effort and motor by running more than 80 yards to look for a block on a Georgia Tech fumble return vs. Florida State. Against the run, he is violent with his hands to shock and shed blocks. He has a huge burst to close from the back side.

Like Gonzalez, White posted a near-perfect Relative Athletic Score (9.92). They also placed a premium on athleticism in last year’s draft.

White is 24, so unlike Gonzalez, he’ll be on the older side for an NFL rookie

The Patriots didn’t have a glaring need on the edge, but with Josh Uche entering the last year of his rookie contract and Matthew Judon turning 31 in August, extra depth certainly won’t hurt help. White, who can line up at multiple D-line spots, could play a role similar to Deatrich Wise, who saw by far the largest workload of his career last season.

The Detroit Lions traded above the Patriots to take Alabama safety Brian Branch at No. 45. Among the players New England passed on to pick White: tight end Darnell Washington, wide receiver Josh Downs and offensive tackles Cody Mauch and Dawand Jones.

We’ll see if they use any of their four fourth-round selections to move up from No. 76.

Round 3, 76th overall: LB/S Marte Mapu, Sacramento State
Make room, Kyle Dugger, Adrian Phillips and Jabrill Peppers. The Patriots just added yet another safety/linebacker hybrid to their growing stable. Mapu played both positions as well as nickel cornerback at Sacramento State, where he earned Defensive Player of the Year honors in the Big Sky Conference last season.

Checking in at 6-foot-3, 221 pounds, he acquitted himself well at the Senior Bowl — just as Dugger did before the 2020 draft — and took a pre-draft visit to New England. His defensive coordinator in that college all-star game was Patriots D-line coach DeMarcus Covington.

Mapu was not invited to the NFL Scouting Combine and could not test at his pro day after tearing his pectoral muscle in February.

Here’s Mapu’s writeup on his draft profile:

Mapu has been praised for his versatility, but he might need to prove he can excel in at least one department — whether in run support or in coverage — at the next level. He lacks short-area athleticism and long speed, so his man coverage might be limited to tight ends. He is highly instinctive from short zone and is a very willing hitter when playing near the box. It won’t be a surprise if Mapu adds weight and locks in as a backup weakside linebacker in a 4-3 defense as a pro.

NFL Media’s Daniel Jeremiah called Mapu his “favorite player in this entire draft.”

The Patriots announced Mapu as a linebacker, but he’s more closely aligned in size to those aforementioned safeties. We’ll see how Belichick plans to use him, and how long he’ll be sidelined as he recovers from his injury. He’s also an older prospect (turns 24 in November).

It’s worth noting Dugger is entering the final year of his rookie contract.

The Patriots have gone defense with each of their first three draft picks and, surprisingly have yet to execute a Day 2 trade. A couple of potential New England targets in South Dakota State tight end Tucker Kraft and North Carolina receiver Josh Downs came off the board shortly after Mapu.

Round 4, 107th overall: C Jake Andrews, Troy
The Patriots now have two centers named Andrews. Jake (no relation to David) was a three-year starter at Troy and could have some positional versatility, as 23 of his 38 starts came at right guard. He’s the third member of this draft class who played at the 2023 Senior Bowl, joining White and Mapu.

New England seems to have its starting interior trio set with David Andrews at center and Cole Strange and Mike Onwenu at the two guard spots, but it lacked depth there last season, with veteran James Ferentz serving as the top backup for all three positions.

David Andrews also had some fun with this pick:

Round 4, 112th overall: K Chad Ryland, Maryland
After a rare in-division trade with the rival Jets, the Patriots made Ryland the second kicker drafted this year. As mentioned above, this pick seems to be bad news for Folk, as teams expect their fourth-round picks to make the roster. Especially if they traded up to take them.

In fact, Ryland is the highest-drafted Patriots specialist (kicker/punter/long snapper) of the Belichick era. He went six spots higher than Stephen Gostkowski did in 2006.

Ryland is yet another Senior Bowl alum.

Round 4, 117th overall: OL Sidy Sow, Eastern Michigan
Boosting their O-line depth was a clear priority for the Patriots here on Day 3. Sow is an intriguing prospect who started a whopping 55 games in college and has top-tier athletic traits at 6-foot-5, 323 pounds.

New England could view Sow as a possible future replacement for Onwenu, who’s entering the final year of his rookie contract. Or, at that size, they could even give him a look at tackle, where they surprisingly have yet to draft any players. Eleven of Sow’s starts at Eastern Michigan were at left tackle, with the 44 coming at left guard.

Round 4, 144th overall: G Atonio Mafi, UCLA
It was only a matter of time before the Patriots drafted a player they coached at the East-West Shrine Bowl. Their choice: yet another interior O-lineman.

Mafi, who was voted a captain of the Patriots-coached West Team, is a burly run blocker who started his college career as a hole-clogging defensive tackle. He transitioned to offense in 2020 and went on to start three games at right guard in 2021 and all 13 at left guard last season. During that transition, he reportedly dropped from 411 pounds to the 6-foot-3, 329 pounds he weighed in at the NFL Scouting Combine. He has a rugby background — he planned to play professionally in his parents’ native Tonga before becoming a legit high school football recruit — and a few tangential Patriots connections. Former New England tight end Devin Asiasi is his cousin, and he went to Tom Brady’s high school (Junipero Serra in the Bay Area).

Round 6, 187th overall: WR Kayshon Boutte, LSU
With a slew of late-round picks, the Patriots took a gamble on an SEC wideout that was considered a potential first-round prospect a year ago. Boutte had 38 catches for 509 yards and nine touchdowns in just six games as a sophomore in 2012 before a season-ending ankle injury, but his 2022 campaign was a nightmare as he clashed with new Tigers head coach Brian Kelly, saw his production plummet and then turned in a miserable combine workout.

The 20-year-old entered the draft with real concerns about his maturity and coachability, so it’s far from a guarantee that he’ll stick in New England. But if he can buy in and recapture his 2021 form, this has the potential to be a sixth-round heist. A big “if,” though.

Round 6, 192nd overall: P Bryce Baringer, Michigan State
A kicker in Round 4, and now a punter in Round 6. The Patriots are the first team to draft both in the same draft since the Oakland Raiders took both Sebastian Janikowski and Shane Lechler in 2000. New England surely hopes these picks work out as well as those did. Baringer was the consensus top punter available in this draft, and he and Ryland were teammates at the Senior Bowl. He’ll compete with veteran newcomer Corliss Waitman for a roster spot this summer.

Round 6, 210th overall: WR Demario Douglas, Liberty
Another sixth-round wideout. The Patriots got a long look at Douglas when they coached him at the Shrine Bowl. He’s seriously undersized (5-8, 178) and doesn’t have the elite quickness New England traditionally looks for in its slot receivers, but he ran a 4.4-second 40 and tested in the 89th percentile or higher in the vertical jump and broad jump. He and Boutte both will compete for roster spots this summer.

Round 6, 214th overall: CB Ameer Speed, Michigan State
Speed profiles as a kicking-game specialist. He played more snaps on special teams over his six collegiate seasons (five at Georgia, one at Michigan State) than he did on defense. With his 4.33 speed, he could fill a role similar to the one Jonathan Jones played early in his career. He’s much larger than the similarly speedy Jones, though, standing 6-foot-3, 209 pounds.

Round 7, 245th overall: CB Isaiah Bolden, Jackson State

Thumbnail photo via Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports Images
New England Patriots punter Bryce Baringer
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