New England Patriots

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - APRIL 27: (L-R) Christian Gonzalez poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected 17th overall by the New England Patriots during the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft at Union Station on April 27, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)

The New England Patriots made 12 total picks and addressed all three phases of the game at the 2023 NFL Draft. So, there are plenty of things to take away from what Bill Belichick and the Pats did over the weekend, and how it’ll affect the team in 2023 and beyond.

Here are eight thoughts on the Pats coming out of draft weekend…

  • Gonzalez Island?

    There are questions of why Oregon cornerback Christian Gonzalez slipped a bit – he was generally projected as a top-10 pick, but ended up the third corner off the board at 17 – but it’s not for a lack of talent or tools. Gonzalez stands at 6-foot-1 and ran a 4.38 in the 40-yard dash. Physically, he should be able to keep up with big, athletic outside receivers. If Bill Belichick gets the most out of Gonzalez, he could basically be another Stephon Gilmore.

    And that could be in terms of his demeanor as much as his playing style. According to Derrick Bell at SI, Gonzalez had a bad interview with the Steelers, with head coach Mike Tomlin reportedly believing he lacked the “competitive edge” he was looking for. But Would Gilmore strike you as a guy with this huge edge? Or was he more of a silent assassin? Maybe Gonzalez is the latter. His performance on the field is what matters, not the look in his eye.

  • Waiting On Wideouts

    ATLANTA, GEORGIA - DECEMBER 03: Kayshon Boutte #7 of the LSU Tigers against the Georgia Bulldogs during the SEC Championship at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 03, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

    ATLANTA, GEORGIA – DECEMBER 03: Kayshon Boutte #7 of the LSU Tigers against the Georgia Bulldogs during the SEC Championship at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 03, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

    In a down year for wide receivers compared to prior drafts, the Patriots decided to wait until the sixth round to address the position. They passed on a wideout in the first round, and soon after they took Gonzalez, the first-round run on the position went from picks 20-23. It was a tough spot for the Patriots, who could use talent at both catching the ball and stopping the other team from catching the ball. Belichick went defense, and so the Pats are going to rely on what they already had at receiver for 2023.

    The hope in the short-term is that Gonzalez makes a big difference slowing down opposing No. 1 receivers – and that 2022 second-round pick Tyquan Thornton emerges as a bigger threat in his second season. Because it would be shocking if Kayshon Boutte or Demario Douglas made a major impact as a rookie.

  • They Didn’t Draft A Tackle…

    Troy FB at App State

    Troy FB at App State

    Tackle tackle tackle tackle tackle! Many of us squawked like a bunch of seagulls about the Patriots NEEDING to draft a tackle. They ended up drafting zero of those, but did draft a center and two guards. So while it’s fair to say Belichick addressed a need on the offensive line in general, the Patriots had made no investment at the most important spot on the line…

  • …Or Did They?

    Eastern Michigan OG Sidy Sow lines up for a play. (Eastern Michigan Athletics)

    Eastern Michigan OG Sidy Sow lines up for a play. (Eastern Michigan Athletics)

    Fourth-round pick Sidy Sow is an interesting one. He mostly played guard at Eastern Michigan, but could he possibly be viewed/used as a tackle? Patriots Director of Player Personnel Matt Groh noted that Sow has some experience at tackle, while NBC Sports Boston’s Phil Perry noted that Sow has enough size (6-foot-5, 323 pounds) and arm length (33 5/8 inches) to play tackle at the NFL level. We’ll have a better idea of the direction the Patriots want to take with Sow at OTAs and various camps.

  • Keion White Was A Long Time Coming

    PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 01: Kedon Slovis #9 of the Pittsburgh Panthers is hit as he throws by Keion White #6 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the second quarter of the game at Acrisure Stadium on October 1, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)

    PITTSBURGH, PA – OCTOBER 01: Kedon Slovis #9 of the Pittsburgh Panthers is hit as he throws by Keion White #6 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the second quarter of the game at Acrisure Stadium on October 1, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)

    Obviously, we could not have longer to go when it comes to second-round defensive end Keion White. But it’s been a long time since Belichick invested big capital in this type of player. Deatrich Wise has reinvented his game over the years to fit what White could bring to the table as a 3-4 defensive end, but Wise, Lawrence Guy, and Daniel Ekuale isn’t really enough at that spot. White is big and athletic, and Belichick should know how to develop and use him. His ceiling is extremely high. Read more about White here.

  • Special Future?

    Feb 4, 2023; Mobile, AL, USA; National kicker Chad Ryland of Maryland (38) tries a field goal attempt from the hold of punter Bryce Baringer of Michigan State (99) against the American squad during the second half of the Senior Bowl at Hancock Whitney Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

    Feb 4, 2023; Mobile, AL, USA; National kicker Chad Ryland of Maryland (38) tries a field goal attempt from the hold of punter Bryce Baringer of Michigan State (99) against the American squad during the second half of the Senior Bowl at Hancock Whitney Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

    The truth will reveal itself over the next few years, but it’s clear that the Patriots aggressively targeted their long-term answers at both kicker and punter. They became the first team since the 2000 Raiders to draft one of each in the same year, and in the case of kicker Chad Ryland, they traded up to get him. Ryland even played with punter Bryce Baringer¬†at the Senior Bowl, so the Pats got an up-close look at how they apparently expect their kicking operation to look in the near future. The Pats still have Nick Folk and signed punter Corliss Waitman in the off-season, so kicker and punter will be two big position battles to watch in camp.

  • Put On Notice

    Dec 12, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; New England Patriots center David Andrews (60) against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    Dec 12, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; New England Patriots center David Andrews (60) against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    David Andrews is entrenched as the Patriots’ starting center heading into 2023 and is signed through 2024 and remains one of the team’s top leaders, but he isn’t going to play forever. The Patriots’ first 2023 pick on the offensive line was used on a center, Jake Andrews out of Troy. Unless the Patriots envision using the younger Andrews at guard, they’ve invested real capital at a position that’s been locked down for the past eight seasons. Jake should be the backup center in 2023, with the potential to push the 30-year-old David for a roster spot in later years.

  • Linebacker Or Safety?

    Sacramento State linebacker Marte Mapu (Sacramento State Athletics)

    Sacramento State linebacker Marte Mapu (Sacramento State Athletics)

    It’s unclear what third-round pick Marte Mapu is at the NFL level. Just the way Belichick likes it. Mapu mostly played linebacker at Sacramento State, but stands at 6-foot-3 and 217 pounds – safety size. He has less bulk than Kyle Dugger. So maybe he is strictly a safety, and a well-rounded one at that. But drafting him in the third round feels like a Belichickian reach, especially if Mapu turns out to be nothing more than a core special teamer.

  • Click here for complete New England Patriots coverage at 985TheSportsHub.com.

    Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. Check out all of Matt’s content here.

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