Patriots’ first three draft positions set for 2023 NFL Draft
As the Patriots struggled down the stretch this season, there was a lot of external talk about draft position. With the team’s season coming to an end on Sunday, that much-asked question now finally has an answer.
After finishing 8-9, the Patriots will be picking 14th overall in the first round of this year’s NFL Draft. The Patriots’ offseason needs this year include premium positions like offensive tackle, cornerback, and wide receiver. With the 14th overall pick, they should be in a spot where they can land an impact player at one of those spots (although wide receiver may be tougher, with it being a weaker class at the position this year).
Assuming they keep the pick, this would be the highest the team drafts since 2008, when they traded up to the 10th overall pick to select Jerod Mayo. The last time they were scheduled to pick this high was all the way back in 2001, when they took future Pro Football Hall of Famer Richard Seymour.
PITTSBURGH – SEPTEMBER 25: Richard Seymour #93 of the New England Patriots celebrates a play against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on September 25, 2005 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Pats defeated the Steelers 23-20. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
This isn’t just uncharted territory for Bill Belichick’s Patriots, but the organization as a whole. They’ve picked 14th overall only four times, and just twice in the modern era. In the AFL Draft they picked 14th twice, in 1962 and 1963. The two players they selected, running back Leroy Jackson and linebacker Lee Roy Jordan, never played for the team.
Their modern era picks have done much better. In 1980, they drafted safety Roland James out of Tennessee. James spent his entire 11-year career in New England, making 122 starts in 145 games. His 29 career interceptions are tied for the fourth-most in team history. He later went on to become the head football coach at Sharon High School, a town over from Foxborough.
11 years later, the Patriots were back on the clock in the 14th spot. This time they drafted on the offensive side of the ball, taking running back Leonard Russell out of Arizona State. Russell didn’t have a long career in New England, but won NFL Offensive Rookie Of the Year in 1991 and went over 1,000 all-purpose yards in 1991 and 1993.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – OCTOBER 22: Cornerback Roland James #38 of New England Patriots runs down the field during the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on October 22, 1989 in San Francisco, California. The 49ers won 37-20. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)
It’s not just the 2023 first round selection that’s set though. We can also project their scheduled second and third round picks as well. Compensatory picks, which the league will reveal in the spring, begin at the end of the third round, so it’s impossible to say beyond that.
For the second round, the Patriots will own the 46th pick. That’s a spot they’ve also held four times before, three times in the modern era. The pick has yielded them mixed results.
In 1962, they took Alabama guard Billy Neighbors 46th overall in the sixth round of the AFL Draft. In his four years with the then-Boston Patriots, he was named an All-Pro three times. Their other AFL pick, Southern Illinois defensive tackle Sam Silas in 1963, never played for them.
In 1999 they made a great pick 46th overall in LSU running back Kevin Faulk. Faulk became a key player for three Super Bowl champion teams as the passing-down back, and is still the franchise’s all-time leader with 12,340 all-purpose yards.
New England Patriots running back Kevin Faulk runs for yardage during a game against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York on December 11, 2005. New England won the game 35-7. (Photo by Mark Konezny/NFLPhotoLibrary)
Belichick’s lone 46th overall selection came the next year. The Patriots drafted tackle Adrian Klemm out of Hawaii in 2000, and he’d spend the next four years with the team primarily as a backup, making 10 starts in 26 games.
For the third round, the Patriots’ don’t own their original pick. They traded that to Miami in the DeVante Parker deal this spring.
They do, however, have the 77th pick thanks to a draft-night deal with the Carolina Panthers last year. They’ve made two 77th overall selections in franchise history. In 1978 they took Grambling State wideout Carlos Pennywell, who caught 12 passes over four years with the team. Their more recent selection came in 2019, which was Michigan pass rusher Chase Winovich. Winovich was traded to the Cleveland Browns last offseason for Mack Wilson.
The full NFL Draft order will be released with the comp picks later this spring. In addition to these three top-100 picks the Patriots also own two fourth rounders (their own and the Rams’), and three sixths (their own, the Raiders’ and the Panthers’). They’re also projected to get fourth (J.C. Jackson), sixth (Ted Karras), and seventh (Brandon Bolden) round comp picks. They’ve traded away their own fifth and seventh round picks.
Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarthor via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.