Musket Fire Roundup: Our own final predictions for round 1

CHESTNUT HILL, MA - OCTOBER 01: Zay Flowers #4 of the Boston College Eagles looks on during a game Against the Louisville Cardinals at Alumni Stadium on October 1, 2022 in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images)
CHESTNUT HILL, MA - OCTOBER 01: Zay Flowers #4 of the Boston College Eagles looks on during a game Against the Louisville Cardinals at Alumni Stadium on October 1, 2022 in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images) /

We over at Musket Fire compiled our own choices for who we think the New England Patriots should take in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft.  Here we go!  The 2023 NFL Draft is soon approaching, and we at Musket Fire decided to compile who we think the Patriots should take with their first round picks.

No one truly knows what’s going to happen, but what we do know are the needs on the Patriots’ roster.  They have urgent needs at tackle, wide receiver, and cornerback.  Will those positions carry over to our own predictions?

Musket Fire Roundup: Our own final predictions for round 1

Matt Burnett, Contributor

With the 14th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft the New England Patriots select Broderick Jones, Offensive Tackle from the University of Georgia.

It’s no secret that the offensive line needs a serious upgrade in New England. Mac Jones was more often than not running from defenders who successfully rushed the offensive line. The offensive line is one of the major blaring weaknesses of the team. It is a must that it is addressed during the draft.The Patriots have added two offensive linemen in Calvin Anderson from the Denver Broncos and Riley Reiff who was most recently with the Chicago Bears last season. But that’s not enough to satisfy the need to continue to rebuild the offensive line.

Insert Broderick Jones. A quick and powerful offensive lineman that rarely allows defenders by him. Jones was an anchor on the offensive line for the Bulldogs that helped bring back to back championships to Georgia.Jones had a dominant combine and an even better pro day. Both days featured his speed off the line and his power as well. This is exactly what the Patriots need. This should be considered a homerun pick for Bill Belichick with bringing in one of the more dominant offensive linemen in this year’s draft.

Jared Koch, Contributor

Pick 14: Zay Flowers

The Patriots’ lack of urgency in addressing receiver in free agency makes it seem as if it’ll be a priority come Thursday night. Even after the signings of Juju Smith-Schuster and Mike Gesicki, the offense still seems a bit unfinished. Lucky for New England, they find themselves in a pretty good position as far as top receivers being available where they’re selecting.

Unfortunately, a top talent like Jaxon Smith-Njigba would likely be off the board at this point, given that he’s most likely the top receiver on team’s boards around the league. Unless the Patriots are willing to trade up (which seems like an unrealistic request given the team’s history), the team seems more likely to stay put at their current selection.

Despite missing out on Smith-Njigba, the Patriots can get a great consolation prize in Zay Flowers. The front office has seemed interested in Flowers throughout the pre-draft process, and he falls right into their lap at 14. He provides speed and versatility to an offense that desperately needs a spark at receiver. A dynamic weapon like Flowers can be a game-changer for Matt Patrica and Mac Jones who enters a crucial year three.

Garrett Haydon, Contributor

My pick at No.14: Paris Johnson Jr., Offensive Tackle, Ohio State University

The great thing about the Patriots picking where they are is they have plenty of options. With this pick being the highest the team has held since 2008, the Patriots have a tremendous opportunity to bring in a supremely talented prospect. The teams issues in protecting Mac Jones last season were extremely evident, so I see them addressing that need immediately with the pro-ready Johnson Jr. who could potentially slide in as the starting left tackle next season.

With the team addressing the offensive line depth in free agency, drafting someone like Johnson Jr. would give them the ability to potentially use someone like Riley Reiff as a depth piece as opposed to a starter and also as potential mentor to young player. Johnson Jr. started all 13 games at left tackle for the Buckeyes last season allowing just two sacks and 12 quarterback hurries, exhibiting excellent durability and was a big reason why C.J. Stroud had the impressive season he did. It is also worth noting that the Patriots were quite successful with last year’s first round pick Cole Strange who ended up starting every game so there’s reason to think Johnson Jr. can have a similar impact on the offensive line.

Lou Scataglia, Site Expert

Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

The Patriots did address their wide receiver situation in the offseason, but only minimally.  JuJu Smith-Schuster is a slight upgrade over Jakobi Meyers, who departed for the Las Vegas Raiders, and Mike Gesicki and James Robinson cannot be discounted to help the offense, but there’s still something missing, and that’s where JSN comes into play.

He’s the best wide receiver in the draft and would put the finishing touches on what could be a very good core of skill players.  JSN, Smith-Schuster, Parker, Thornton, Gesicki, Henry, Stevenson, and Robinson could all end up overwhelming opposing defenses.

Grady Richard, Contributor

With the 14th pick in my 1st round mock draft the New England Patriots selected EDGE Myles Murphy out of Clemson University.

At 6’5″ and 258lbs Murphy is touted as an absolute freak of an athlete. He has the combination of power and speed that gets you very excited about his potential in the NFL. Using just his physical tools he can regularly put NFL tackles on their backs and get into the backfield and put pressure on QBs. Where he lacks is in his pass rushing moves but those are teachable skills whereas speed and power can not be taught. Getting drafted to the Patriots would work out well for Murphy as there is no one better at teaching and developing defensive skills than Bill Belichick. Give Belichick a year or two to work his magic on Myles Murphy and the Patriots could have a special pass rusher on their hands.

Sara Marshall, Site Expert

The Patriots immediately address one of their biggest needs by sticking at pick 14 to take Darnell Wright.

A four-year starter from Tennessee, Wright is a versatile offensive tackle who provides the luxury of experience playing both left and right tackle. Since one of the most significant issues facing the Patriots in recent years has been the consistency and reliability of their linemen, Wright would be important insurance when dealing with injuries to other players or poor performance.

One of his most noteworthy traits throughout his college career was his excellent protection of the quarterback, an aspect that plagued Mac Jones in his first two seasons. Wright didn’t allow a single sack in the 2022 season and also displayed an “awe-inspiring” power when blocking in the run game. As one of the prioritized positions for the Patriots to take early in the draft, selecting Wright would make for one of the more perfect scenarios for round one. They get one of the best tackles of the class, while not closing the door on other needy positions.

Spencer Swoboda, Contributor

Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

Notable players unavailable at No. 14: Christian Gonzalez, Devon Witherspoon, Broderick Jones, Paris Johnson Jr., Myles Murphy, Jaxon Smith-Njigba. If the Patriots stay put at No. 14, they may have to decide between filling one of their top needs (OT, WR, CB) or simply drafting the best available player left on the board. In this situation, set up by the Pro Football Network Mock Draft Simulator, Robinson remains on the board after 13 picks. He is a once in a decade type of talent at the position. And the only reason why he is not a consensus Top 10 draft pick is because he plays at the running back position. Three traits stand out to me when seeing Robinson play:

  • An ideal balance of strength and agility
  • Ability to break tackles and gain yards after contact
  • Reliable pass catching skills

Having the combination of Rhamondre Stevenson and Bijan Robinson in the backfield is a scary good thing to think about. And the benefits will be recognized outside of the running game as well.The pass catching skills of both running backs will give Mac Jones a reliable safety net when dealing with pressure and elite opponent secondary coverage. It can also help open up coverages and pass catching lanes in the middle of the field for wide receivers in the slot and tight ends. An underrated skill of Robinson’s is his overall pass protection, which could help give Mac the extra time necessary to throw the ball to his targets.

We at Musket Fire pride ourselves on our work, so we all hope you enjoyed reading our own final predictions for round one.

Mendy Cohen, Contributor

In my latest mock, I have the New England Patriots choosing Broderick Jones (Georgia) with the 14th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.

While the Patriots have a variety of options at this spot, including wide receivers, defensive ends, cornerbacks, and offensive linemen, they will likely have to choose from the next tier of players since the top two players in each premier position group will likely be off the board by this point. In this class, the top three linemen are Peter Skoronski from Northwestern, Paris Johnson from Ohio State, and Broderick Jones from Georgia, all of whom are potential targets for the Patriots.

The last time they drafted a tackle in the first round was Isaiah Wynn, another Georgia product. However, Jones has superior physical attributes to Wynn, standing at 6’5 with 34 ¾ inch arm length compared to Wynn’s 6’3 and 33 3/8 inch arm length. While Jones does need to improve his technique and ability to utilize leverage in pass protection, he has the potential to become the best tackle in the 2023 class.

If the Patriots choose Jones, he could benefit from learning behind veteran tackles Riley Reiff and Trent Brown for a year. This would allow him to develop his skills and potentially solidify the tackle position for the Patriots.

Justin Trombino, Contributor

I expect to see the Patriots support Mac Jones and Bill O’Brien with some fresh talent to revamp their offense heading into the season. Drafting Jaxon Smith-Njigba would be the perfect fit for the role of upgrading the offense with a legitimate producer in this wide receiver.

Let’s face it, at 14th overall, the Patriots are going to have many different options, especially if there’s a handful of quarterbacks taken within the first 13 picks, leaving that many more skill position players on the board for New England.

JSN is a slot receiver but can also line up along the outside and stretch the field. The Patriots brought in JuJu Smith-Schuster to be the alleged slot receiver after a harsh goodbye to Jakobi Meyers in the offseason. I just don’t see JuJu being great in the slot, opening a path for JSN.If JSN isn’t available, I think the Patriots will draft a defensive player, perhaps a corner or edge rusher and target a wide receiver in another round. Deonte Banks or Nick Hampton would both be great fits at both positions.There’s only one player in this draft I think the Patriots would trade up to pick, and that’s edge linebacker Tyree Wilson.