It’s never too early to look ahead at the NFL draft, especially with the Patriots’ offseason already taking shape.
New England has quite a few holes to fill, with PFF suggesting their most significant needs are offensive tackle and EDGE. Of course, some argue receiver as well, but free agency may alter what they end up doing come April 1st.
Because the offseason began in unprecedented fashion, with the release of a memo revealing the search for a new offensive coordinator along with Robert Kraft expressing his unhappiness with the 2022 season, this year’s draft could also be an untraditional Bill Belichick draft.
Typically, most are prepared for the head coach to trade back in the first round, especially, or take the most random player, like Cole Strange’s selection last year. However, Belichick may be in the hot seat a bit from the Kraft’s which may impact how the draft unfolds for the Patriots this year.
Yes, you read that right. The Patriots could take a tight end in the first round.
At first glance, it seems like an absolutely bonkers idea, especially as they currently roster Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith, accounting for nearly $33 million of the salary cap in 2023. However, Smith has yet to live up to his contract since joining the team two years ago, and Henry had an uncharacteristically down season in 2022.
Could Belichick be looking to draft the Patriots’ next dominant tight end?
If so, Mayer would be the perfect selection. He is the highest ranked at the position in this year’s draft by PFF and could be the explosive player the Patriots’ offense has been missing. He is the quintessential tight end with excellent blocking and a great route runner, which is very much in line with what New England got from Rob Gronkowski.
For this pick to make sense, Belichick would likely move on from Smith or Henry. With Bill O’Brien back as the offensive coordinator, he could make the two currently rostered perform up to their true potential, but Mayer may be too good of a player to pass up in round one.
Although Belichick double-dipped at cornerback in the draft last year, selecting Marcus and Jack Jones, veteran Jonathan Jones is set to hit free agency next month. If he is not re-signed, his absence will leave a massive void in the secondary that will need to be addressed, opening the door for Emmanuel Forbes.
A former receiver in high school, Forbes was a four-star recruit landing with Mississippi State. Throughout his three years at the college, he was a force, using his natural play-making abilities to create an impressive resume.
Forbes is a versatile player with good instincts and aggressiveness, which would make him a great fit with who the Patriots currently have in the secondary.