Patriots should regret passing on top tackle prospect in 2023 draft

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Baltimore Ravens v Cleveland Browns / Lauren Leigh Bacho/GettyImages

There was a lot of speculation surrounding the Patriots and who they would select with their first-round pick in the 2023 draft. Because there appeared to be many holes on the roster needing to be addressed, almost every position (especially on offense) was favored to be the way Bill Belichick would go.

But, as usual, the head coach didn't follow the expected route and didn't address the most improvement-needy parts of the team until far later in the draft.

There was a focus on drafting a cornerback, offensive linemen, or wide receiver in round one with an emphasis on the offensive side of the team. Since the o-line continued to be one of the most glaring issues overall, there were a handful of players most fans hoped would become the next New England Patriot.

Instead of going with the offense, Belichick couldn't pass up the opportunity to take Christian Gonzalez, the top cornerback of the class who fell into their lap at pick 17. At the time and watching the rookie play four games this season, Patriots fans have no complaints about taking Gonzalez.

He was on track to becoming the Defensive Rookie of the Year with his performance, but his season ended abruptly with a shoulder injury against the Cowboys that required surgery to repair.

However, the contentment with Gonzalez's selection doesn't negate the disappointment that Belichick didn't address the offensive line until the fourth round when he took Sidy Sow out of Eastern Michigan.

Although Sow has been decent when on the field, other available options for the Patriots to take before him have outperformed him so far, with Dawand Jones leading the way.

The Browns took Jones one spot ahead of the Patriots' pick of Chad Ryland, who they traded up for to draft. The move made sense because they were in desperate need of a competent kicker, but it's very uncommon to select a kicker that early in the draft, meaning Belichick very easily could have waited to take Ryland.

That would have allowed him to focus on addressing the offensive line earlier and getting one of the best of the class like Jones instead. Considering the current state of the group through six weeks, Jones' presence would be a breath of fresh air, as he's only allowed nine total pressures through five games.

That may not completely transform the offense since it needs help beyond just the offensive line, but he would be one of the more consistent and reliable players lined up to protect Mac Jones.