With the 2023 NFL draft just days away, the Patriots have some big decisions to make regarding what position they will decide to go with in round one.
Since wide receiver is one of the reported narrowed-down choices, many have speculated Bill Belichick will go with one of the top prospects with their first-round pick, despite their bad luck the last time they did that with N’Keal Harry in 2019.
But what if they go in a different direction with pick 14?
Although that may differ from what many fans want to see, plenty of talented receivers will still be left on the board that could easily be great fits in New England.
(the following list is in alphabetical order)
Nathaniel (Tank) Dell – Houston
Projected round: Second or third
- HEIGHT: 5’8″ or 5’10” (both are listed on various websites)
- WEIGHT: 165 lbs
- 40-YARD-DASH: 4.49 seconds
- 2022 stats: 108/152 receptions, 1,399 yards, 17 touchdowns in 13 games
Tank Dell out of Houston may not be the tallest receiver of the class, but he’s certainly one of the most explosive in the group.
He’s a twitchy, speed machine who is efficient in his route running and demonstrates an impeccable ability to change direction. Throughout his time at Houston, he became known for his proficiency in gaining yards after the catch, something the Patriots could truly benefit from, and he always figured out a way to get open.
Dell completely dominated the field through the last two seasons, totaling 199/291 catches for 2,727 yards and 29 touchdowns, averaging 13.8 yards per catch.
History will tell you that due to his slender build, his performance could translate poorly in the NFL, but with the right coaching and the right system, Dell could easily become a primary offensive weapon.
Josh Downs – North Carolina
Projected round: Second
- HEIGHT: 5’9″
- WEIGHT: 171 lbs
- 40-YARD-DASH: 4.48 seconds
- 2022 STATS: 94/116 receptions, 1,029 yards, 11 touchdowns in 11 games
Another of the shorter receivers, Josh Downs, could be a great slot option for the Patriots on day two.
Considered one of the better prospects of the 2023 class, Downs is a complete workhorse with noteworthy athleticism and footwork that got scouts talking. In addition, his impressive instincts and separation make him a standout despite his size and contributed to the packed resume he created over the last two seasons.
Like Dell, his size is what most deem questionable regarding his performance in the NFL. However, the Patriots are known for working wonders with those types of guys, and Downs has been compared to some New England greats.
He would be an excellent day-two option if Belichick wants insurance that he’s getting a capable and hard-working player with the confidence and technique to put him over the top.