2023 NFL Draft: Patriots land massive OT in Patriots.com mock draft

Oct 22, 2022; College Park, Maryland, USA; Northwestern Wildcats offensive lineman Peter Skoronski (77) prepares to block against the Maryland Terrapins at SECU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 22, 2022; College Park, Maryland, USA; Northwestern Wildcats offensive lineman Peter Skoronski (77) prepares to block against the Maryland Terrapins at SECU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports /

The New England Patriots need to bolster their offensive tackle position in the draft and one recent mock draft goes early and often to that position.

Patriots.com’s Evan Lazar’s recent mock has the Patriots going to the offensive tackle well twice in the first four rounds. The team will have seven picks through the fourth round according to Lazar.

Here’s what the astute analyst has to say about addressing that position,

"The Patriots have three holes on their roster that seem apparent to most observers taking in practices at the Shrine Bowl and Senior Bowl over the last few weeks.Although head coach Bill Belichick typically takes the draft in his own direction, New England is likely heading for an overhaul at offensive tackle and could use high-end upside at outside cornerback and wide receiver where they’re lacking star power at the moment."

Lazar is right that Patriots Head Coach and honcho Bill Belichick goes off in his own direction often in the draft. Those tangents, especially in the form of what draftniks term “reaches” are, unfortunately, his trademark. They don’t work out all that well, generally.

The New England Patriots center on tackle in Patriots.com mock draft

Lazar’s selecting two tackles echoes comments in this space. It’s an absolute necessity. The two tackles he touts are Peter Skoronski (grandson of Packers’ great Bob Skoronski) from Northwestern in the first round and Tyler Skeen of Alabama in the fourth.

Here’s what the pundit had to say about Skoronski, a pretty much consensus top-four tackle,

"Skoronski projects as the most likely tier-one tackle prospect to fall to New England because he might not blow teams away at the combine. Instead, he’s a heady, rock-solid blocker whose flashiness comes in the details where he’ll adapt to moving parts by the defense like a seasoned vet … Skoronski’s the type of player you draft in the first round, plug-and-play as a rookie, and solidify the position for at least the next half-decade. A great get with the 14th overall draft choice."

Consensus picks get a huge positive here. Problem is, Belichick’s modus operandi has often been going “outside-the-box”, way outside as he did with his 2022 first-round pick, guard Cole Strange (and others). Strange had a decent rookie season at an interior line position and that’s fine.

The issue with the pick was it was the wrong position there (should have been a tackle) and where he was taken, not necessarily whether he’d be a good player or not. It’s irrelevant.

You expect (or at least should outside of New England) quality players anywhere in the top three or maybe four rounds. Not all work out and that’s part of the crap shoot.

But when you reach outside the consensus with a reach like Strange, the opportunity cost is steep. You miss out on a better player and you also may have gotten Strange in the second or even third rounds. It was a strategic mistake, a gaffe, no matter how Strange worked(s) out.

New England Patriots should target long offensive tackles

Lazar touts Tyler Steen as his second OT pick in the fourth round by New England. Here’s what he has to say about Steen,

"Steen’s athletic upside suggests he could stay at tackle as a high-level pass protector who was groomed in the SEC. He is another sudden mover out of his stance to protect his edge and is quick to his landmarks in the run game to make solid positional blocks."

Lazar’s allocation of the first and fourth-round picks to offensive tackle is spot on. His choice of Skoronski is truly solid, yet, still a bit questionable. No doubt, he’s a top talent, a consensus talent so his selection is not outlandish at all. Yet, other choices may be better for the New England Patriots.

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nfldraftbuzz.com has Skoronski’s height at “only”6’4″ tall, weighing 315 pounds. But, they pointed out an even more important measurement, arm length. He has very short arms at 32 1/4”, especially for a left tackle. Isaiah Wynn’s botched pick in 2018 should more than deter them from selecting a not-so-long offensive tackle. Be wary.

Two top choices for this space are massive 6’6″ tall Paris Johnson, and his Ohio State teammate, the even larger and longer, Dawand Jones.

Patriots should target Ohio State OL Dawand Jones in 2023 NFL Draft. dark. Next

Those are thoughts here on Evan Lazar’s mock draft as it relates to tackles. His position selections for the team’s second, third-round, and first-fourth-round picks, wide receiver, cornerback, and safety are not supported here.

The team should stay away from drafting those positions high up in the draft. The New England Patriots have proven they can’t draft them well. That’s what’s at issue, not the players. But that’s maybe a story for another day.