New England Patriots: Grading the 2023 draft class

The Patriots drafted 12 ... how'd they do?
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The New England Patriots' best-performing pick from the 2023 Draft

Round 6 - pick #210: Demario Douglas

The Patriots' last pick of the sixth round has earned the distinction of being the team's best draft pick performance-wise in 2023. That would, of course, be the diminutive yet dynamic and explosive wide receiver from Liberty, Demario Douglas. Douglas has exceeded even the wildest expectations.

Once the befuddled coaching staff realized he could excel and used him more extensively, he has been the Patriots' best wide receiver. He's been everything you may have hoped for and more. He's the top Patriots rookie from the class of 2023 (with due deference to the injured Gonzalez) and will likely be the team's slot receiver next season and beyond.

In 14 games, starting seven, Douglas caught 49 receptions for 561 yards and has been the most explosive and reliable target for whoever has been at the helm at quarterback. If he can stay healthy, Douglas will be a fixture for the new Patriots in 2024 when a rookie (perhaps a dual-threat) quarterback will likely take the helm of a hopefully new and decidedly more innovative and imaginative offense than we saw this season.

Douglas is the New England Patriots Rookie of the Year and is another in quite an impressive array of sixth-rounders who have made the grade. Of course, not the least of whom is the greatest NFL player of all time, Tom Brady. Douglas's grade is an easy one, a straight A, only limited by his early non-use by the coaching staff.

Round 7 - pick #245: Isaiah Bolden

In the seventh round, the Patriots' final pick of the 2023 NFL Draft was Isaiah Bolden from Jackson State. Bolden was injured on a scary pre-season play where he suffered a concussion and was placed on injured reserve for the season.

He is a young player to keep an eye on in the future, and he can only be graded as an incomplete, with best wishes for a healthy and full return to the team in 2024.

There it is, a review of the Patriots 2023 NFL draft. The team had the good, the bad, and the ugly, as most drafts of 12 players would. Christian Gonzalez, the best player of the 12 picks, has a top yet incomplete grade.

All in all, the 2023 draft can be looked upon as perhaps one of the better drafts of recent years for the Patriots' beleaguered personnel department which could be completely revamped for 2024. The hope here is that it will be. There are still too many reaches that have proven to be flops, along with obvious errors of omission. A new outlook and draft strategy is sorely required.

The one noted glaring omission (another was not drafting a tight end or two) that drags the overall draft grade down dramatically is the neglect to draft any offensive tackles (OT). The dismal offensive tackle position was the ruination of any chance the team had for a winning, never mind a playoff season. That offseason gaffe was a season-wrecker.

Compounding that draft neglect was free-agent signings that didn't pan out, especially at offensive tackle. The result was a sack-prone offense that never got untracked and a calamity of a season. Although the team did bring in a solid group of players who will contribute in the future, the absence of drafting two or three OTs (and no tight ends) was egregious enough to limit the overall 2023 New England Patriots draft grade to a C-/D+.

The sad part is that it could truly have been superlative.

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