Re-grading the Patriots 2023 NFL Draft class after one season

Sep 10, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots cornerback Christian Gonzalez (6)
Sep 10, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots cornerback Christian Gonzalez (6) / Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports
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With the 2024 NFL Draft later this week, it's time to look back at who the Patriots drafted just one year ago. It was a draft class met with mixed reactions, from excitement over guys like Christian Gonzalez and (at first) Kayshon Boutte, to confusion regarding Bill Belichick's decision to trade up for a kicker in the fourth round.

Now that we've seen them play for an entire season, we can appropriately re-grade the draft based on their rookie peformances. Luckily, many of them appear to be great additions to the team for the long term.

Re-grading the Patriots 2023 NFL Draft class after one season

Round 1, Pick No. 17 - CB Christian Gonzalez, Oregon

Immediately considered one of the biggest draft steals of the class, the Patriots landing Christian Gonzalez even after trading down was completely unexpected. The former Oregon cornerback was projected to go in the top 5, with some analysts believing it was closer to the top 3, making him out of range for New England.

But when they were on the clock with No. 14, Gonzalez was still available. And then he remained on the board at pick 17, luckily falling into the Patriots' lap.

It was the perfect situation for all involved. The secondary needed a boost from a lockdown corner, and that's exactly what Gonzalez brought to the team through almost four games. He was all in during the first game of the season, recording seven combined tackles, a tackle for a loss, a quarterback hit, a pass defended, and even a sack.

After suffering an injury against the Cowboys in Week 4 that prematurely ended his season, he totaled 17 combined tackles, three passes defended, one interception, and a sack. His performance was so impressive that he quickly became the frontrunner to win Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Although he was expected to be good no matter what team drafted him, he proved to be worth all the hype and is expected to continue what he started this upcoming season as one of the starting cornerbacks on the team.

Grade: A+

Round 2, Pick No. 46 - DE Keion White, Georgia Tech

Starting his tenure with New England by going viral for looking less than enthused to hear his name called on Draft night, Keion White was selected to play a significant role in the pass rush, a part of the defense that basically ran through Matthew Judon and Matthew Judon alone.

Unfortunately, that's not exactly what happened.

White had an underwhelming rookie season, recording just 26 combined tackles, three tackles for a loss, five quarterback hits, and one sack. He was outshone by others on the defense, particularly once Judon went down with an injury, as many tried to take advantage of the unexpected opportunity to make an impact in his absence.

He had some good moments as a part of a dominant defense, displaying the potential he has with more training and development. But his performance didn't bolster the pass rush in the way that the team was probably hoping.

Coming into the 2024 season, White will have a year of experience under his belt to build upon with a new head coach and returning pass-rushing guru (Judon) to motivate and learn from. Because he has a lot of the tools to be successful, there's no reason to write him off just yet.

Grade: C