For the second time in three seasons, the New England Patriots found themselves on the outside looking in on the postseason. A large part of that lack of success in 2022 came due to a disjointed attack on offense headlined by Bill Belichick tapping both Matt Patricia and Joe Judge to oversee the offense. That saw a dramatic dip in production on that side of the ball and a regression from 2021 first-rounder Mac Jones.
Well, Belichick has seemed to find the error of his way and has started the process of getting the organization back on track, recently hiring Bill O'Brien to become the team's next offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach. While that's a start, the roster could also upgrade for them to truly contend in what is a highly competitive AFC. And that starts at the NFL Draft.
There are several positions New England could look to upgrade and we'll highlight a few areas they'll need to focus on once the draft gets rolling in late April. Before we do that, let's take a look at the picks that the Patriots currently have at their disposal.
Note: Compensatory selections have yet to be awarded.
Patriots 2023 draft picks
76 (via Panthers)
104 (via Rams)
170 (via Raiders)
173 (via Panthers)
Latest mock drafts
|CBS Sports NFL Draft Expert||First-round pick||Position||School|
|Kyle Stackpole||Broderick Jones||OT||Georgia|
For more extensive draft content, check out our latest prospect rankings and mock drafts, as well as our new weekly podcast, "With the First Pick," featuring former Vikings general manager Rick Spielman.
Key areas of focus
As a few of our CBS Sports draft experts note, finding a blue-chip offensive tackle is paramount for New England and could be a good position to key in on with that No. 14 overall selection. In fact, this could be an area where the Patriots double-dip in the draft given the need on the roster. The discombobulation at the offensive play-calling spot did shield some major issues along the offensive line as that unit struggled to keep whoever was under center upright. New England ranked 25th in the NFL in adjusted sack rate, which simply needs to improve if this group wants to reach its ceiling. Isaiah Wynn is slated to hit free agency this offseason and the Patriots could clear roughly $11 million off the salary cap by cutting Trent Brown, which means they could be without two of their starting tackles. Even disregarding Wynn and Brown's uncertain futures, the Patriots should look to upgrade from those players and the draft could be a cost-effective way of doing so.
Wide receiver has also been a position that has plagued the Patriots in recent years, particularly in the NFL Draft. One of the blind spots for Belichick has been his inability to draft and develop wide receivers during his tenure in New England, especially those taken within the first two days of the draft. The jury is still out on last year's second-round pick Tyquan Thornton, but the Patriots should continue to take stabs at that position on Day 2 like they did a year ago. Meanwhile, Nelson Agholor and Jakobi Meyers are set to be free agents, which furthers the need to bring in more pass-catching talent. New England should look to retain Meyers, but they still lack a true No. 1 in the offense. One way they could try to fix that is to consider the trade route. As we saw during the draft last year (ex. A.J. Brown and Marquise Brown), veteran receivers could be on the move, especially if they are looking for a new contract. The Patriots could use some of their draft capital, combined with their sizable amount of cap space, to be one of the possible landing spots if a star wideout were to shake loose and look to be traded over the draft weekend.
Lastly, continuing to fill the young cornerback pool in the secondary is a worthwhile endeavor. The Patriots did bring in a couple of promising rookies last year in Jack Jones and Marcus Jones, and they should keep bringing in youth at that position, especially with Jonathan Jones hitting free agency.