2023 Patriots Draft Grades

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2023 NFL Draft Recap

By: #KeepingUpWithTheJoneses        

                The 2023 NFL Draft has come and gone this weekend, and once again, many Patriots fans are wishing: Bill for once in your life, could you NOT draft a player no one has ever heard of before? Seriously, Marte Mapu, Linebacker from Sacramento State? I am not doubting Bill’s defensive genius, but Yahoo! Sports does not even have any stats of this guy. With that said, here are my draft grades for the New England Patriots, each individual pick, and overall.

                Round 1 Pick 14

New England traded the 14th pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers for the 17th and the 101st overall picks. Once again Belichick shocking everyone by trading down in the draft. *Note HEAVY sarcasm* With the 17th pick Belichick selected Christian Gonzales, Cornerback, Oregon.

                Christian Gonzales, Cornerback, Oregon.

Gonzales was a 4-star recruit out of Texas, he committed to playing for Colorado, starting all six games for the Buffaloes in their shortened 2020 season. In 2021, he started all 12 games, earning himself an Honorable mention for the All-Pac 12 Team. Gonzales played offense, defense, and special teams. In the 2022 offseason, Cornerbacks coach Demetrice Martin moved from Colorado to Oregon after the season.

In 2022 Christian put together a stellar season for the Ducks, with 50 tackles, 4 interceptions, 7 pass break-ups and 1 blocked kick. Gonzales earned first team All-Pac 12 accolades. Christian has been compared to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. He has the size and speed of a shut-down NFL cornerback. He should pair nicely with Jack Jones.

Tony’s Grade: A-

Round 2 Pick 15 (46 Overall)

            Keion White, Edge, Georgia Tech

            Keion White started his collegiate career at Old Dominion University as a Tight End. He switched to defensive end in 2019 earning Second Team All-CUSA honors, however, in 2020 ODU did not field a team due to COVID-19. In 2021, White transferred to Georgia Tech, where he played just four games, missing most of the season to injury. In 2022, he rebounded for a big year, producing 14 tackles for loss, and 7.5 sacks in his 12 starts. White brings size, speed, and versatility to the Bill Belichick defense. He is the epitome of a Belichick defensive end. Keion’s NFL player equivalent is John Franklin-Myers. With his size and speed, White will be a versatile player to plug into the 3-4 style of defensive. I can see Josh Allen, Aaron Rodgers, and Tua Tugaliova being awfully familiar with this kid.

Tony’s Grade: B

Round 3 Pick 13 (76 overall)

Marte Mapu, Linebacker, Sacramento State

            Every draft Bill Belichick does something that makes the fans go “Huh?” This year, that comes in the third round in the form of Marte Mapu. It took a little bit of digging to figure out what exactly we are getting with this pick. Mapu was First-Team FCS All-American, and Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 2022. He finished the season with 76 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions, and a blocked kick in 13 starts. Marte does not have an official NFL equivalent player, and he was projected to go into the 5th or 6th round, this pick is one of the head scratchers.

Tony’s Grade: C

Round 4 Pick 5 (107 Overall)

            Jake Andrews, Center, Troy

            Another Center with the last name as Andrews, will he be as much of a beast as David? Time will tell. Coincidently, Jake (no relation to David) does have an Uncle David (don’t we all though?) and he has modeled his play style after him. Jake was a two-sport stand out at his Alabama high school even winning the Class 6A wrestling State Title for 285lbs. Mel Kiper says a wrestling back round translates well for offensive lineman. Andrews was one of the least penalized lineman throughout his collegiate career. In 2022, he played 914 of the teams’ 917 offensive snaps and he was penalized just 4 times. Jake is a versatile lineman who eventually will be the starter at Center, but he has experience at both the Guard and Tackle positions making him a great asset for pass protection.

via Jim Nagy @JimNagy_SB

Tony’s Grade: B+

Round 4 Pick 10 (112 Overall)

Chad Ryland, Kicker, Maryland

            Belichick traded up to select Chad Ryland, Kicker out of Maryland, initially on draft day, I thought this was one of those odd moves by Bill, but the more tape I watch on this kid, the more I am impressed. Ryland was a 4-year player at Eastern Michigan starting as a freshman despite being a walk-on, before transferring to Maryland for his last year of eligibility. He was second team All Big Ten in his senior season, when you are in a conference with Jake Moody, this is the best you can hope for. He was 19-23 FG (82.6% 3-6 on 50+ yards), 39-40 on XP, and created touchbacks on 51 of 73 kickoffs. Ryland is also no stranger to cold weather kicking, spending most of his career at Eastern Michigan.

“Cold weather, it’s obviously not the most ideal conditions to kick a football. Not a lot of people want to kick in that. But I do. I’m a cold-weather guy. I like the cold. I like the wind. For me, it’s that challenge of ‘bring it on.’” -Chad Ryland via boston.com

Watch as he hits this one from 59 yards.

via Jim Nagy on twitter @JimNagy_SB

Tony’s Grade: A-

Round 4 Pick 15 (117 Overall)

            Sidy Sow, Guard, Eastern Michigan

            Taking another OL, Sidy Sow was consistent and dependable starting in 55 of 57 games at Eastern Michigan, both school records. Sow is more of a run blocker, than a pass blocker, which could bolster yardage for Rhamondre Stevenson. He earned himself firstteam All-MAC in 2021 and 2022. Sidy grew up in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He told boston.com that his all-time favorite team was the Montreal Canadiens, as I write this, watching the Boston Bruins attempt to move on in the Stanley Cup playoffs, this makes me want to lower his grade simply for that! Alas, I cannot hold it against the kid, so this pick is a solid pick-up that adds depth to the OL.

Tony’s Grade: B

Round 5 Pick 9 (144 Overall)

            Atoni Mafi, Guard, UCLA

            Another pick to bolster the OL for Bill Belichick, Atoni Mafi had 13 starts in his Senior year at Left Guard, earning Second-Team All Pac-12 honors.

Tony’s Grade: B+

Round 6 Pick 10 (187 Overall)

            Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU

            Belichick waits until the sixth round to select depth at the wide receiver. Kayshon Boutte was a highly touted prospect out of high school, unfortunately for him an ankle injury set him back in 2021 and 2022 dropping his draft stock significantly.

“I would say the injury was a setback for me, but I feel like at the combine, I feel like that was just how I performed,” Boutte said. “It was nothing towards the injury or anything like that.”

-Kayson Boutte, Via boston.com

Even with the injury, he was still projected to go in the fourth round so, him slipping to the Patriots in the sixth round could turn out to be a steal.

Tony’s Grade: A-

Round 6 Pick 15 (192 overall)

            Bryce Baringer, Punter, Michigan State

            A solid punter who punted 60+ yards in 8/12 games in 2022. He was number 1 in the country in both gross and net punt yards.

Tony’s Grade: B

Round 6 Pick 33 (210 overall)

            Demario Douglas, WR, Liberty

            Likely selected for Kick and Punt returning abilities.

Tony’s Grade: B

Round 6 Pick 37 (214 overall)

            Ameer Speed, Defensive Back, Michigan State

Tony’s Grade: B

Round 7 Pick 28 (245 overall)

            Isaiah Bolden, Cornerback, Jackson State

Tony’s Grade: B

            Overall, this draft was full of surprises. Belichick seems to have checked off all the team “needs” minus Tight End. It will be interesting to see how things progress once we hit rookie camp in the summer.

Tony’s Overall Grade: A-

Honorable Mention:

Patriots signed Undrafted Free Agent Malik Cunningham, QB, Louisville. Cunningham is an interesting pick-up. Will he be motivation for Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe to work harder over the summer? Or will he pull a Julian Edelman and shift to Slot Receiver and give JuJu some competition.

via Louisville Football Twitter @LouisvilleFB





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