With the 2023 NFL Draft set to kick off three weeks from Thursday, it’s time to take another shot at predicting the New England Patriots’ picks.
This is the fourth NESN.com Patriots mock draft. Click the links below to check out any of the previous installments. All coverage, dropped pass and snap count stats via Pro Football Focus unless otherwise noted.
TRADE: Nos. 14 and 187 to Tampa Bay for Nos. 19, 82 and 175
First round, 19th overall: OT Darnell Wright, Tennessee
Different trade than the one we swung in last week’s mock draft, but same result. With Wright’s mix of experience as a four-year starter in the SEC, right/left versatility, powerful run-blocking ability and success as a pass protector last season, the 6-foot-5, 333-pounder looks like an excellent Patriots fit at a clear position of need.
TRADE: Nos. 46, 135 and 175 to Tennessee for Nos. 41 and 147
Second round, 41st overall: RB Jahmyr Gibbs, Alabama
The Athletic’s Jeff Howe this week reported the Patriots are interested in drafting a “blue-chip back” and are “absolutely intrigued” by this year’s top prospect at the position, Texas’ Bijan Robinson. Robinson is projected to go in the first round, though, and that doesn’t seem like a smart investment given the Patriots’ other needs. Instead, they trade up five spots in Round 2 to draft an Alabama product who’s garnered comparisons to Alvin Kamara.
Gibbs averaged 6.1 yards per carry in 2022 when he played under new Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien with the Crimson Tide. He also caught 79 passes over the last two seasons and had just two drops in college. Add in the 4.36-second 40-yard dash he ran at the NFL Scouting Combine, and he could be an explosive, receiving-focused complement to Rhamondre Stevenson. The Patriots drafted six Nick Saban disciples in the last eight drafts and traded up in Round 2 in each of the last five.
Third round, 76th overall: TE Sam LaPorta, Iowa
Neither Mike Gesicki nor Hunter Henry is an overpowering run blocker, so we considered taking a tight end with a clear strength in that area (like Michigan’s Luke Schoonmaker, whom we grabbed in the fourth round last week). But the 6-foot-3, 245-pound LaPorta is competitive as a blocker, and he has the potential to be a true weapon in the passing game. He was a run-after-catch fiend at Iowa and showcased his athleticism with an excellent showing at the combine.
His college OC, ex-Patriots assistant Brian Ferentz, told The Athletic that LaPorta is “probably the best” player he’s coached — high praise from a guy who previously worked with George Kittle, T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant. He brings strong leadership qualities, too, as a college captain.
Third round, 82nd overall: WR Jonathan Mingo, Ole Miss
Mingo’s collegiate production wasn’t eye-popping (51-861-5 in 13 games last season), but there’s a lot to like when watching the big-bodied wideout on film. He played multiple receiver spots for Ole Miss, can slip defenders and make contested catches, is a threat in run-after-catch scenarios and uses his frame well as a blocker in the run game. Mingo, who turned heads at the Senior Bowl and reportedly has the Patriots on his top-30 visit schedule, also crushed his combine workout, running the 40 in 4.46 seconds at 6-1, 220.
Fourth round, 107th overall: S Jammie Robinson, Florida State
Robinson’s 5-foot-11, 191-pound frame and lackluster combine showing could hurt his draft stock, but he offers a lot of the skills New England looks for in its defensive backs. Primarily a deep safety, he also logged more than 250 snaps in the box and more than 150 in the slot last season, his third as a starter.
Robinson is regarded as a strong tackler despite his lack of prototypical size, and he allowed just one touchdown in coverage last season. The Patriots love versatile DBs who can tackle, and Robinson could have a role in their plan to replace Devin McCourty. He attended the Senior Bowl and reportedly has a pre-draft visit scheduled with New England.
Fourth round, 117th overall: CB Cory Trice, Purdue
The Patriots should be looking to add some height and length to their cornerback room on draft day. At a towering 6-foot-3, 206 pounds, taking Trice would address that need. He battled injuries over his five-year college career but played in all 13 games last season, intercepting two passes and breaking up 10 others.
Considered a talented press-man corner, Trice boosted his stock by running a 4.47-second 40 and broad-jumping 11 feet at the combine. At his pro day, Purdue claimed Trice ran the three-cone drill in 6.70 seconds and the short shuttle in 3.96 — elite marks for any corner, never mind a 6-3 one. The Athletic, which ranked Trice No. 100 on its prospect big board, also noted he missed just two tackles last season.
Fifth round, 147th overall: OL Andrew Vorhees, USC
Vorhees likely won’t help the Patriots this season after tearing his ACL at the combine. But he’s considered one of the better interior O-line prospects in this year’s class and would be a worthy draft-and-stash candidate if he slides this far. Vorhees started 25 games at right guard, eight at left guard and four at left tackle for the Trojans. The Patriots took a similar fifth-round flier on an injured player when they took linebacker Cameron McGrone in 2021.
TRADE: Nos. 184 and 245 to Las Vegas for No. 174
Fifth round, 174th overall: P Adam Korsak, Rutgers
The Patriots flip their final pick to Josh McDaniels’ Raiders to move up 10 spots and draft Korsak, the only player to appear in each of our first four mock drafts. He was the best punter in college football last season, played for a friend of Bill Belichick in Greg Schiano, was a three-year captain and participated in the Senior Bowl. He’s the total Patriots package, and Round 5 is where Belichick traditionally targets specialists.
Sixth round, 192nd overall: QB Clayton Tune, Houston
Given all the hubbub surrounding Mac Jones, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Patriots draft a quarterback for the fifth time in the last six years. This might be too late to snag Tune, but he’d be a fit as a four-year starter and three-year captain who completed 67.3% of his passes last season and played in the Senior Bowl, though his 2.02% interception rate was a bit high by New England standards. Tune also is a very good athlete and can make plays with his legs, rushing for 544 yards and five touchdowns in 2022.
Sixth round, 210th overall: DE Viliami Fehoko, San Jose State
Fehoko, who visited the Patriots this week, is a bit of a D-line tweener at 6-foot-4, 276 pounds. But he was incredibly disruptive in college, tallying 22 sacks, 44 tackles for loss, five forced fumbles and seven pass breakups over the last three seasons. In 2022, he had nine sacks and 19 TFLs to earn Defensive Player of the Year honors in the Mountain West. He was a four-year starter at San Jose State and “plays with a nose for the football and a chippy attitude,” according to his NFL.com draft profile.