This year’s New England Patriots’ rookie class comes in with as much hype as any in recent memory. Between getting players drafted below projections, to strong performances from those players over the spring and summer, the external expectations are high for this group.
It’s an expansive group too. The Patriots made 12 picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, their most since making 12 in 2010 (a draft class that included Devin McCourty and Rob Gronkowski. Of those 12, 11 made the team with Isaiah Bolden being the lone exception as he landed on IR. In addition, the Patriots added two UDFAs to their practice squad.
Of those 12 players, a handful are expected to play key roles for the Patriots this season. That includes players from the top of the draft through the late Day 3 picks.
That all being said, it can be easy to let the hype around rookie players get out of control. So, heading into the season with the roster set, what should fans realistically expect from the Patriots’ rookie class? Let’s take a player-by-player look at each position.
NOTE: Players are listed in order of draft selection, with UDFAs at the bottom. Practice squad players follow the players on the 53-man roster.
CB Christian Gonzalez
When the Patriots took Gonzalez 17th overall in this year’s draft, the pick was widely viewed as a steal. Heading into the draft Gonzalez was projected as an NFL-ready cover corner with tremendous upside. Throughout camp, he’s done very little to dissuade from that initial evaluation.
When Gonzalez has struggled it’s been in zone coverage, but the Patriots should mostly be playing him in man. When Bill Belichick’s defenses are at their best they have a top man-to-man corner on an island with one of the other team’s top two wide receivers, then play the game 10-on-10 with the offense handcuffed. While there may be rookie growing pains at times, Gonzalez should be able to be that guy this year.