Patriots should keep an eye on these top DT’s in 2023 NFL Draft

LUBBOCK, TEXAS - OCTOBER 29: Defensive lineman Siaki Ika #62 of the Baylor Bears reacts during the first half of the game against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Jones AT&T Stadium on October 29, 2022 in Lubbock, Texas. (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images)
LUBBOCK, TEXAS - OCTOBER 29: Defensive lineman Siaki Ika #62 of the Baylor Bears reacts during the first half of the game against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Jones AT&T Stadium on October 29, 2022 in Lubbock, Texas. (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images) /

New England Patriots aging defensive line was decent in 2022 but not good enough. They need to select a young playmaking defensive tackle (DT) in the 2023 NFL draft.

The teams best is Christian Barmore who had an injury-riddled 2022 campaign, only playing 10 games. Even if healthy, Barmore needs help. No other defensive tackle did much. The best of the lot was Davon Godchaux, an average player.

The second order of business should be (but probably won’t be) selecting a defensive tackle in the second round. This assumes that the team’s top need, an offensive left tackle is met in the first.

Having witnessed the New England Patriots’ obtuse draft strategy for many years, neither is likely. But, let’s take a look anyway at the best DTs who may be available in the second round. Maybe they’ll surprise us and actually do the right thing.

New England Patriots need a top young defensive tackle

2023 NFL Draft Patriots
Georgia Bulldogs DT Jalen Carter  (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images) /

Pro Football Focus is an excellent source for a draft prospectus. So who do they like at defensive tackle in the 2023 draft?

Jalen Carter of Georgia is their top choice. Forget getting him, they project he’s a top-five pick. Second on their list is Clemson’s Bryan Bresee, 6’5″ tall and 305 pounds. He’s a first-round talent from their viewpoint.

Should the Pats decide he’s worth the cost, here’s their take on Bresee,

"He’s barely played, though, seeing a grand total of 884 snaps across three seasons for various reasons (most notably, an ACL tear in 2021).Look no further than the ACC championship game against North Carolina to see why Bresee is still thought of in such high regard despite 302 snaps in 2022. He racked up five pressures on 18 pass-rushing snaps in dominant fashion. They even had the 300-plus-pounder rushing off the edge, where he showed his prodigious athletic gifts."

Bresee’s an injury risk. That might eliminate him from consideration, especially in the first round.

Next on their list is Siaki Ika of Baylor. The New England Patriots have often effectively deployed gargantuan defensive tackles in the middle of their defensive line. From their best, Vince Wilfork to Ted Washington and Tractor Traylor, they were favored in the early Bill Belichick years.

Ika fits that bill at 6’4″ tall and 358 pounds. PFF likes him a lot,

"A 358-pounder never looked so good. Siaki Ika’s lateral agility at his size is a sight to behold. Centers expected him to try to play through them, and Ika consistently left them grasping at air over the course of his Baylor career. Ika racked up 51 pressures in two years at Baylor after transferring from LSU."

Want a big and agile DT? Ika is the one. He is projected to go in the first or second round so a trade-up might be necessary to land him after an offensive tackle. Anything other than a 10-year offensive left tackle would be a mistake, but they could do worse than taking Ika.

Two final top choices for the New England Patriots at defensive tackle

PFFs third rated DT of PFF is Calijah Kancey of Pittsburgh. He’s a small DT at only 6’0″ and 280 pounds.

"… Currently, only six defensive tackles are listed at 6-foot or shorter in the NFL, and there are 16 defensive tackles listed at 280 pounds or lighter but precisely zero NFL defensive tackles who are both. Kancey will be an outlier no matter what position he plays at that size. Watch him move so effortlessly on a football field, though, and it’s easy to see him breaking the mold, whether on the interior or off the edge."

He’d be an unlikely choice for two reasons. One, there are few Aaron Donald caliber players on the planet. And two, the last time the New England Patriots went in this direction was Dominique Easley from Florida, an injury risk. He was a complete 2014  first-round flop, released after two seasons.

The final choice noted here is Mazi Smith from Michigan. He’s a big DT at 6’3″ tall weighing 337 pounds. PFF notes,

"Smith has long-term NFL starter written all over him. When he wants to drop anchor, there’s little chance of moving him against his will. That ability alone is growing more attractive to NFL defenses trying to stop the run with light boxes."

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Smith underperformed in college and that’s troubling. But since he may be available early on day two, he’d slot in pretty nicely for the Patriots.

So there’s a rundown of a few top defensive tackles in the 2023 draft. What defensive tackle would you like to see the New England Patriots select? We’d like to hear.