Who the experts say the Patriots will draft at pick 14

ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 26: The New England Patriots logo is seen on a video board during the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft at AT
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 26: The New England Patriots logo is seen on a video board during the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft at AT /

The Patriots’ offseason began far earlier than hoped, but the fun is just beginning as NFL and draft experts are well on their way releasing mock drafts weeks before the postseason has concluded.

With so many changes expected for the Patriots’ 2023 season, it isn’t easy to pinpoint what direction they’ll go in in this year’s draft. Most of the up-to-date mock drafts reflect that uncertainty; with New England choosing either top-name offensive tackles or versatile secondary players, possessing the 14th overall pick allows Bill Belichick a variety of talent to choose from.

But what direction will he go? Will offense remain the focus even in the draft?

Here’s what the latest experts are projecting the Patriots’ first selection to be.

Daniel Jeremiah – NFL.com
Brian Branch, S – Alabama

  • “Branch is one of my favorite players in this draft class. He’s an outstanding nickel defender with the versatility to move around the secondary.”

Marcus Mosher – Pro Football Focus
Lukas Van Ness – EDGE – Iowa

  • “The Patriots got fantastic play from Matt Judon and Josh Uche last year, but they could use more size and power on the defensive line. Van Ness is one of the best power rushers in this class, as he can bully offensive tackles back into the laps of quarterbacks. He would be a perfect fit in a New England defense that likes to utilize different types of pass rushers.”

Ryan Wilson – CBS Sports
Peter Skoronski, OT – Northwestern

  • “Peter Skoronski is solid and consistent, which are two of the best things you can say about an offensive lineman. The biggest issue he’ll face during the pre-draft process will be arm length and whether his NFL future is at tackle or guard.”

Trevor Sikkema – Pro Football Focus
Jordan Addison, WR – USC

  • “When Jordan Addison’s name comes up during big board assembly meetings across the NFL, some teams will focus on his lack of size at 6-foot and 175 pounds. Others will focus on his 2,506 receiving yards, 25 receiving touchdowns and Biletnikoff Award over the past two years. I’m not sure the Patriots are in a position to pass up a smooth and productive playmaker in the passing game.”

Joe Marino – The Draft Network
Devon Witherspoon, CB – Illinois

  • “If the New England Patriots are going to get back into contention in the AFC East, improved cornerback play to combat the talent at wide receiver in the division is a must. Witherspoon is an ultra-competitive corner with man coverage ability, ball skills, and physicality.”

Kyle Stackpole – CBS Sports
Broderick Jones, OT – Georgia

  • “The Patriots could stand to bolster the offensive tackle spot with Isaiah Wynn set to become a free agent and veteran Trent Brown coming off a disappointing campaign. And even if Broderick Jones doesn’t start right away, he’ll add quality depth before establishing himself as a force up front. He has all the tools to succeed; he just needs to refine them.”

Nick Baumgardner – The Athletic
Brian Branch, S – Alabama

  • “This pick was nearly Iowa edge Lukas Van Ness, due to all of the Belichickian traits he possesses (down to the fact that he played for Kirk Ferentz). But Brian Branch is probably even more of a classic Patriots fit. This also might be too low for Branch, who could well be the best defensive prospect in this draft outside of Carter and Anderson. A terrific space defender in the back seven, Branch is a safety who can cover. One of these years, NFL teams will stop being afraid to draft these types of players higher than the teens. Maybe it’ll be this year.”

Phil Perry – NBC Sports Boston
Peter Skoronski, OT – Northwestern

  • “The Patriots have a few clear needs headed into this offseason. None are clearer than the spot they tried to man with spare parts all season: seemingly tackle. While Trent Brown was a staple on the left side — if inconsistent with his performance — the right side was a revolving door: Isaiah Wynn, Marcus Cannon, Yodny Cajuste, Conor McDermott. They need someone there. In this scenario … it might be Brown, who has played plenty of right tackle in the past. The reason? Skoronski looks like he has the chops to pass-protect effectively from Day 1 on the left side.”

Chris Trapasso – CBS Sports
Michael Mayer, TE – Notre Dame

  • “Mayer isn’t a big-time athlete, but he does everything well at the position. Safe selection here for the Patriots.”

Cam Mellor – Pro Football Network
Christian Gonzalez, CB – Oregon

  • “Showcasing his elite coverage ability with Oregon in 2022, Christian Gonzalez put himself on the map in a big way. On multiple occasions, Gonzalez peeled off his receiver to make plays on the ball that weren’t even in his target range, showcasing range.But his best attribute is his ability in man coverage. Gonzalez put forth an impressive display of defensive back teach tape in seemingly every game, as he baited and switched receivers, blanketed them, or just downright defeated them at the line of scrimmage with any number of elite-level intangibles. He’s a surefire starter from day one and helps usher in a new era of coverage for the Patriots.”

Mark Schofield – SB Nation
Quentin Johnston, WR – TCU

  • “Over the Bill Belichick Era, the Patriots have done a fantastic job at identifying talent at the slot receiver position. Wes Welker, Julian Edelman, and now Jakobi Meyers all come to mind. But the boundary receiver spots have been a mixed bag at best. Yes, they traded for Randy Moss, but you knew what you were getting with him. Draft picks such as Chad Jackson, Aaron Dobson, and most recently N’Keal Harry all failed to live up to the billing. Fourth-round pick Malcolm Mitchell played a huge role for the Patriots as a rookie in Super Bowl LI but retired after two years due to injuries. Could Johnston break that streak? Perhaps. He projects as a prototypical X receiver in the NFL, with the ball skills and speed to stretch defenses vertically, but as we saw against Michigan he can also work underneath to create explosive plays.”

Josh Edwards – CBS Sports
Drew Sanders, LB – Arkansas

  • “Drew Sanders is an Alabama transfer who primarily played an off-ball linebacker role, but also showed the capability to rush the passer when given the opportunity.”