Many Patriots fans were baffled by some of New England’s decisions in the 2023 NFL Draft, and people around the league reportedly were right there with them.
The Patriots drafted 12 players — their most since 2010 — but, at first glance, didn’t improve their offense in any significant way. New England went defense with its first three picks, took a trio of interior offensive linemen and traded up for a kicker in the middle rounds, and finished with a punter, two project receivers and a pair of special teams-first cornerbacks.
As director of player personnel Matt Groh said Saturday night, it’s a “diverse” draft class. But was it what the Patriots needed as they look to rejoin some of the top dogs in the AFC?
Some in the NFL have their doubts, according to NBC Sports Boston’s Phil Perry.
“I thought they got two players that fit them in a variety of different ways, that check a lot of boxes for them in the first and second round,” Perry said during the latest episode of Tom E. Curran’s “Patriots Talk” podcast. “I think the third round and on, I wouldn’t be stunned if Patriots fans are wondering about the Patriots’ approach there.
“And I can tell you league people feel the same way, sort of scratching their heads about the Patriots not taking an offensive player until the fourth round. the Patriots not taking a tackle, not tacking a pass-catcher until the sixth round. So, if you’ve got some issues with this draft class, now that you’re not the only one.”
There’s no doubt that New England improved its already-formidable defense. The Patriots filled a glaring need at cornerback with first-round pick Christian Gonzalez and added high-upside depth in other areas.
However, New England entered the draft seemingly needing both a new offensive tackle and tight end. They got neither, with the decision to opt against drafting one of many quality tight ends particularly confusing.
“I think the question from the people that I’ve spoken to is, is the Patriots offense going to be able to stay on the field?” Perry said. “That might help their defense as much as anything.”
Ultimately, neither the Patriots nor their fans will complain if some of this year’s picks develop into meaningful contributors. And New England’s strong performance in recent drafts can’t be discounted.
But even if this year’s class produces some good players, that won’t mean the Patriots took the right players in the draft. And though the Mel Kipers of the world believe Bill Belichick and company deserve high marks for what they did over the weekend, some in the NFL apparently feel quite differently.