Breaking down the Patriots’ options in the 2023 NFL Draft

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 09: Broderick Jones #59 of the Georgia Bulldogs celebrates after a touchdown in the second quarter against the TCU Horned Frogs in the College Football Playoff National Championship game at SoFi Stadium on January 09, 2023 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 09: Broderick Jones #59 of the Georgia Bulldogs celebrates after a touchdown in the second quarter against the TCU Horned Frogs in the College Football Playoff National Championship game at SoFi Stadium on January 09, 2023 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /

Get a comprehensive analysis of the New England Patriots’ options in the 2023 NFL Draft. Our expert breakdown explores all possibilities.

Inside 1 Patriot Place, Belichick, Matt Groh, and the rest of the personnel department have been putting their heads together trying to anticipate what the rest of the league will do come draft night, so they can plan different strategies depending on other teams picks. They are not alone in that regard as the rest of the league scrambles to prepare for every possible scenario.

This is not something abnormal, as every year, teams have to do this, whether that means calling other teams to scout out potential trades, calling agents to try and figure out what other teams have been telling them, or doing mock drafts like the rest of us football nerds. But this year is different. This is set up to be one of the most shocking and drama-filled draft nights we’ve had in a while.

There are 4 QBs, and an argument can be made for each one going number 1 overall. A multitude of teams in the top 10 who need a QB, but don’t have to take one, except for Carolina. Three top-tier defensive line prospects, one of them happened to have been arrested during the combine. A running back who is threatening to be the exception to the modern rule of no running backs in the first round.

Besides who the prospects are, every team in front of the Patriots could go in 20 different directions and the Patriots have to be prepared for each one. I have done a handful of mock drafts and scouted a large array of the first-round talent, so I will try to lay down the possible directions the Patriots can go, depending on what happens on draft night.

Breaking Down the Patriots’ options in the 2023 NFL Draft


Mac Jones and his rocky sophomore season have been well-documented. From seeking outside help, and yelling at coaches, Mac did not end the year in Belichick’s good graces. There have been reports of Lamar Jackson, which has been shut down, but in the scenario where the Patriots move up, it will most definitely be for a quarterback.

On Reddit, a user wrote, “I am hearing NE has the parameters of a trade in place with Houston. NE would receive 1.2 in exchange for 1.14, a ’23 4th, ’24 1st, and Mac Jones.” Now, this needs to be taken with a glacier of salt, as people have recently found out how much impact they can have on draft odds when, on Tuesday, someone on Reddit wrote, that Will Levis is saying he’s going to the Texans, and his odds jumped from +4000 to +400, so chances are, it is someone bored.

Although, it is interesting to think that the Patriots could do this. Getting a quarterback who is much more athletic and dynamic, as opposed to slow-footed Mac Jones could be what they need in today’s NFL. Will Levis is a dynamic passer with some issues in the accuracy and game-processing department. For Levis to be successful, he would probably have to sit for a year and that would push the clock back even more on them being competitive, and with Belichick probably not being in New England for a lot longer, I don’t see it happening.

If they do end up trading up, I would love to see C.J. Stroud in New England. Stroud is the most complete quarterback in this class, with beautiful throwing mechanics and accuracy. His mind for the game is great for a rookie quarterback and would only improve under Bill O’Brien.


When it comes down to it, the Patriots have a handful of players who they would take at the 14th pick. Our job in the media is to use draft visits, combine meetings, and unnamed sources to try to figure out who those people are. The list will never be given out, unfortunately, so all we could do is speculate. The Patriots’ top three areas of need right now are offensive tackle, receiving threat, and cornerback.

I say receiving threat and not WR because they just need dudes who can catch the ball and be dominant. Teams are realizing more than ever these days that a TE who can be a threat impacts the offense just as much as if it was a WR. This year, the TE class has players who fit that description and who have talent that deserves a first-round grade.

Namely Michael Mayer (Notre Dame) and Dalton Kincaid (Utah), who will most certainly be available at 14. With an offense headlined by Juju Smith-Schuster and Rhamondre Stevenson, this is an area that needs to be addressed in the draft. This wide receiver class is not top-heavy and I believe the Patriots see it the same way, so if they are going to go this route, it will be via tight end

At offensive tackle, 3 guys could be available at 14. Paris Johnson (Ohio State), Broderick Jones (Georgia), and Darnell Wright (Tennessee). Paris Johnson is the most polished and NFL-ready out of this bunch and most likely will be gone, but if he is on the board, I would not be shocked to see the Patriots pick him. Broderick Jones is the next best option, and with his length, strength, and athleticism, he could potentially be the best tackle to come out of this draft.

Jones has a basketball background so he has elite footwork to go along with his strength. The Patriots are down to an aging Trent Brown who had the worst season of his career last year and Riley Reiff, who was signed this off-season, but who’s also aging on a one-year deal. Long-term, the need is glaring and could be filled with any of these guys.

The cornerback room this year is fun, but it is young and full of question marks. Let’s take a look at the Joneses. Jack Jones had a promising start but ended the year being suspended which doesn’t sound good for his future. Jonathan Jones is solid as an outside corner after making the switch last year, but he is an undersized corner, playing at 5’10 and 185 pounds. Marcus Jones is young and exciting, but he’s even smaller than Jonathan, listed at 5’8 and 175 pounds. This position needs length and a true No. 1 shutdown corner.

There are about four top guys who can potentially be there, depending on how things shake out. Christian Gonzalez (Oregon), Devon Witherspoon (Illinois), Joey Porter Jr. (Penn State), and Deonte Banks (Maryland). Witherspoon is listed at 5’11, but everyone else is 6 foot plus. I love Christian Gonzales here for the Patriots, but the chances of him falling are slim as he is the number one guy on most people’s mocks. But this draft could get unpredictable, so ideally he’d be their guy at CB.

Gonzalez plays long and fast, he can run with the best of them, and has the versatility Belichick loves, as he logged time both on the outside in man/zone and the slot. If Gonzalez isn’t available, they might pass on the length and hype of Joey Porter Jr (6’2) and go with Deonte Banks. Banks also provides that versatility and shutdown ability with great tackling skills which would make him thrive in Jerod Mayo’s defense.

If the Patriots stay pat and pick at 14, I have them adding another Jones to the locker room and going with Broderick Jones. Having a good line is the key to the Patriots’ run and (hopefully) play-action heavy scheme. They get their guy here and fill their needs with later picks.


Trading down is a real option for the Patriots in this draft. Because it is not a top heavy draft class, you could have guys going in the 10-30 slots who can, in other drafts go in the 30-60 range. The 2020 draft had a similar feeling towards it from teams, and the Patriots did indeed trade down and get Kyle Dugger and Josh Uche in the second round.

While there are quality players that can be selected at 14, Belichick may see no drop-off in value with guys he might take a little later in the round, and if he can get extra draft capital while he’s at it, he definitely will. The players who I believe he could be targeting if he trades down are ones that they had in for draft visits. Those visits are usually a good sign as to who the team likes. These players include CB Emmanuel Forbes (Mississippi St.), TE Dalton Kincaid (Utah), WR Zay Flowers (Boston College), DE Lukas Van Ness (Iowa), and WR Jordan Addison (USC).

The best player out of this bunch is Lukas Van Ness, and with the lack of a 3-down edge rusher, he would slide in seamlessly opposite Mathew Judon. Receiver wise, I’d have them go Zay Flowers out of Boston College. The Patriots coaching staff has spent the most time with Flowers than any other prospect, coaching him in the Shrine Bowl, meeting with him at the combine, pro day, and on his draft visit. This is pretty telling that they like him…a lot.

Here’s Dane Brugler’s scouting report on Zay Flowers:

“A three-year starter at Boston College, Flowers was an inside/outside receiver in offensive coordinator John McNulty’s offense and was often schemed across the formation with motions (jets, orbits, etc.) and tight splits so he could attack space. He was presented with several lucrative NIL offers to transfer as a senior but stayed loyal to the program and had a record-breaking 2022 season, becoming Boston College’s all-time leading receiver.

Flowers, who should be the first BC receiver drafted since 1987, is fluid in and out of his breaks with playmaking potential after the catch. He is more of a glider than a sprinter and won’t dust NFL corners”

Flowers is definetly an axciting player to add to the team but, the best-case scenario in my opinion would be a trade down for a CB, and then use the extra draft capital to go get DeAndre Hopkins from the Cardinals. Arizona was looking for a second, but with a third and a fourth, the Patriots could lure the Cardinals into making the trade.

Ultimately, the Patriots will need to be prepared for any eventuality, as every team in front of them has multiple options to choose from, and the draft could go in any number of directions. With a variety of talent available in this year’s class, it will be fascinating to see who the Patriots end up selecting and how they choose to shape their roster for the future.