Last season, the New England Patriots (8-9) failed to notch double-digit wins for the second time in the past three years. In those two campaigns where the Pats could not manage ten or more wins, they were also left out of the AFC playoffs: Something that has only happened five total times over HC Bill Belichick’s 23 years in New England. Simply put, there is a football standard that has been set in Foxborough, and the fanbase is beginning to grow impatient.
Naturally, Belichick’s greatness and legacy are not one to be debated—The five-time Super Bowl-winning head coach will undoubtedly be enshrined in Canton in his first year of eligibility (when the time comes). Still, there is a growing contingent in the colonial Northeast that feels coach Belichick may be losing his touch, especially when it comes to overseeing/facilitating a functional offense. Remember, the Pats were in the bottom third of offensive production last season while scoring the 14th fewest total touchdowns. Of course, not having a prevalent, experienced offensive coordinator combined with a young quarterback like Mac Jones can lead to results like that.
Still, we have also seen the defensive side start to slip in New England. Over the recent epoch of the NFL, Belichick is regarded as one of the best defensive minds, schematically. Yet, the Patriots gave up more than 20 points in 10 of 17 games last year, including surrendering 30+ points in five of their losses. At the moment, it is safe to say they are looking for help all over the field in New England.
The Pats have certainly had an active offseason, though. Despite Belichick being verbally non-committal to Mac Jones (along with rumors of owner Robert Kraft and rapper Meek Mill pursuing Lamar Jackson), they have still attempted to add to the offense after losing Jakobi Meyers, Nelly Agholor and Jonnu Smith—Experienced newcomers Mike Gesicki and JuJu Smith-Schuster should help with some of those departures on offense.
In the defensive backfield, the Patriots will be without DB Devin McCourty for the first time since 2009. Heading into retirement, McCourty played his entire career in Foxborough, having suited up for 205 games. He leaves behind a talented yet inexperienced bunch in New England’s secondary. From there, the Pats also have needs along the offensive line, which was formerly a staple in Massachusetts. Regardless, New England heads the 2023 NFL Draft in Kansas City with plenty to address, and they can start by immediately utilizing the upcoming 14th overall pick.
Significant free agency additions
- TE Mike Gesicki
- RB James Robinson
- WR JuJu Smith-Schuster
- OT Riley Reiff
- OT Calvin Anderson
- LB Chris Board
- CB Jalen Mills (re-sign)
- S Jabrill Peppers (re-sign)
- CB Jonathan Jones (re-sign)
Significant free agency losses
- RB Damien Harris
- WR Jakobi Meyer
- S Devin McCourty
- QB Brian Hoyer
- TE Jonnu Smith
- P Jake Bailey
Patriots 7-round mock draft
Using the mock draft simulator tool on ProFootballNetwork.com, I made eleven selections through seven rounds for the New England Patriots. With the biggest needs from Maine to Connecticut being near the numbers (wide receiver and corner), I emphasized this draft on the perimeter.
Unexpectedly, I was able to pull the trigger on the hyper-dynamic Jaxon Smith-Njigba (Ohio State) at No. 14 overall. Initially eyeing a cornerback, I could not pass up on a player of Smith-Njigba’s abilities, as he has the potential to open up a stagnant Patriot offense. From there, I stayed on the offensive side in the second round to pick TE Darnell Washington (No. 46, Georgia)—He is the sort of tight end that can play physically in the run game while serving as a security blanket for Mac Jones.
Heading into the third round, I emphasized the defensive backfield by selecting a true safety and corner. With the departure of McCourty in New England, S Sydney Brown (No. 76, Illinois) and CB Alex Austin (No. 107, Oregon State) can provide talent and depth to a thin unit.
From there, I attempted to “beef” up the Patriots’ roster by adding players in the trenches. New England needs help on the O-line, so bolstering the interior should go a long way toward allowing the offense to operate. Additionally, I took a couple of players in the mid-latter rounds to strengthen the defensive front seven. Ideally, this is a draft class that can contribute now to helping the Pats get back into the 10-win-or-more realm.
14. WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State
46. TE Darnell Washington, Georgia
76. S Sydney Brown, Illinois
107. CB Alex Austin, Oregon State
117. C Luke Wypler, Ohio State
135. LB DeMarvion Overshown, Texas
184. EDGE Habakkuk Baldonado, Pittsburgh
187. TE Luke Schoonmaker, Michigan
192. G Sidy Sow, Eastern Michigan
210. QB Aidan O’Connell, Purdue
245. Chris Rodriguez Jr., Kentucky