The New England Patriots had an abundance of draft picks they used to select 12 players in the 2023 draft. Draft picks occasionally provide an immediate assist to a team nearing playoff contention or a boost to a team already playoff-ready. The 2023 New England Patriots were neither, as their disastrous 2023 season has proven.
The season is now in the rearview mirror as the Patriots are firmly ensconced in a very unfamiliar position since the dominating era of Tom Brady, which is last place in the AFC East behind even the lowly New York Jets. It's now timely to look at the team's 2023 draft, evaluate its impact on the dismal 2023 season, and grade each draftee.
The New England Patriots Premium Picks: Rounds 1-3
The New England Patriots under Bill Belichick have been inclined on numerous occasions to eschew the common outlooks or "consensus" opinions of players in the draft and to go their own way. This so-called "reaching" seldom works out and has cost the team dearly over the years.
In 2023, however, the team's first two picks were smack dab in the consensus bandwidth and did well accordingly. The first pick was an acknowledged top-10 pick and felt by some to be one of, if not the best, cornerbacks in the draft. That was Christian Gonzalez of Oregon.
Pro Football Focus had Gonzalez rated as their second-ranked corner after Devon Witherspoon. He didn't disappoint. He was an immediate starter and showed why he warranted such a high pick, even though, in a deft move, Belichick had traded down to amass more draft capital and still select Gonzalez at pick 17.
While Gonzalez only played in four games, his impact and potential were immediately visible to anyone paying attention. Unfortunately, a dislocated shoulder and torn shoulder labrum ended his season prematurely. Along with the season-ending injury to Matt Judon, the team lost two of its best players, keeping a very good defense from becoming an awesome one. That notwithstanding, Gonzalez gets a solid A(incomplete) grade. He was a great pick.