Highlighting Patriots biggest draft need in the 2023 NFL Draft

EVANSTON, ILLINOIS - NOVEMBER 05: Paris Johnson Jr. #77 of the Ohio State Buckeyes in action against the Northwestern Wildcats during the first half at Ryan Field on November 05, 2022 in Evanston, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
EVANSTON, ILLINOIS - NOVEMBER 05: Paris Johnson Jr. #77 of the Ohio State Buckeyes in action against the Northwestern Wildcats during the first half at Ryan Field on November 05, 2022 in Evanston, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

The New England Patriots needed to bolster the offensive tackle position in the 2022 off-season. They whiffed at that and had issues after brooming their two top guards Shaq Mason and Ted Karras.

Those moves and not drafting an offensive tackle cost the team dramatically in 2022, and almost certainly a playoff spot.

Let’s take a look at positions of need in the 2023 off-season. Right now, the most important one at the moment is still offensive tackle (OT). What a shock.

Let’s see who might fit the bill at OT in this draft and who might fill that need in the first round or whenever the Patriots pick first.

New England Patriots biggest need in 2023, same as in 2022

The Patriots had a decent team in 2021. They made the playoffs with a 10-7 record, not bad with a rookie quarterback. Not bad at all.

But like another team in town (wears red socks), they couldn’t stand prosperity and they tore down what they had built to a certain extent in the offseason. Go figure.

As noted, the Pats lost (traded) Shaq Mason and allowed Ted Karras to leave in free agency. So what’s that have to do with an offensive tackle?

It had a lot to do with because they felt obligated to invest heavily in a guard in the first round of the NFL draft, no less (a really dubious endeavor) to try to fill that gaping hole. They drafted a major reach in Cole Strange to try to plug one of those holes. They never did. It was very costly.

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Unfortunately, the greatest need then was an offensive tackle and it still is now. The tackles in 2022 were Trent Brown, a solid but sometimes injured player, and Isaiah Wynn, a smaller, oft-injured player who was totally unsuited to being an offensive left tackle in the NFL, or even a right tackle as it turned out.

With that established, let’s take a look at the top offensive tackles who might be available when the Patriots pick at Number 14 in the upcoming 2023 NFL draft.

The top four offensive tackles in the 2023 draft the New England Patriots will have a shot at.

Pro Football Focus, an outstanding observer of college and pro sports has the following as their top four offensive tackles in 2023.

Here’s part of what they say about their 4th rated OT, Broderick Jones:

"When Jones squares up a defensive end cleanly, he’s the most impressive tackle in the class. He’s built like a slab of granite with very low body fat for a 300-plus-pound tackle. The fact that he was so adept at moving people against their will in only his first season as a full-time starter is a good sign for his NFL prospects. Jones was tied with Ohio Stare’s Paris Johnson Jr. for the third-most big-time blocks among FBS tackles in the run game this past season."

At “only”, 6’4″tall, he’d be a bit too short for this space’s liking.

Anton Harrison fits the size profile. Here’s part of their take on him,

"Harrison has the uncoachable smoothness that you can’t help but admire from a 300-plus-pounder. He moves like an NBA power forward with feet, body and hands perfectly in sync. That helped him surrender only nine pressures on 447 pass-blocking snaps this season, and he had been seeing time at left tackle ever since his true freshman year in 2020."

Their next guy, Paris Johnson Jr., has just the size profile you’d want.

"Johnson is the closest thing to a “lab-built” offensive tackle in this draft class. He has a high-end combination of size, strength and athleticism reminiscent of the elites at the next level. That was even evident in high school, as he was a five-star prospect and the No. 11 offensive tackle recruit in the 2020 class."

Again, a bit on the “shorter side” PFF’s top prospect is Peter Skoronski:

"Skoronski is quite comfortably the most NFL-ready offensive lineman in the draft class. He took over for Rashawn Slater at left tackle as a true freshman in 2020 and has given the Wildcats nothing short of exceptional play ever since. This past season, he allowed all of six pressures across 474 pass-blocking snaps for one of the best pass-blocking campaigns in PFF’s nine years of college grading. His feet, balance and hand usage are all already tremendous."

Next. Patriots top 5 positional needs to address in the new league year. dark

So there are the top OT prospects as one top source sees it. Any of those four would probably be just fine. We’ll be doing a lot more on the draft as it gets closer. Stay tuned.

What do you think the New England Patriots biggest offseason need is? We’d like to hear.