New England Patriots: 3 game breakers to target in 2023 NFL Draft

KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE - SEPTEMBER 24: Jalin Hyatt #11 of the Tennessee Volunteers runs with the ball against the Florida Gators at Neyland Stadium on September 24, 2022 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Tennessee won the game 38-33. (Photo by Donald Page/Getty Images)
KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE - SEPTEMBER 24: Jalin Hyatt #11 of the Tennessee Volunteers runs with the ball against the Florida Gators at Neyland Stadium on September 24, 2022 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Tennessee won the game 38-33. (Photo by Donald Page/Getty Images) /

The New England Patriots need offensive tackles. It’s their greatest need this offseason. Yet, generally, among their other key offseason needs, they need game-breaking players on offense.

The team is devoid of this type of player except for Marcus Jones, who’s primarily been used on special teams and defense. This perhaps should change since he can be an explosive slot receiver in the NFL.

Absent that, the team should target several players who may be NFL game-breakers in the draft. Since it’s on offense, the position to target is certainly wide receiver (a perennial need for the New England Patriots it seems), and a tight end, though they also may need a running back.

Let’s take a look at two wide receivers and a tight end who might fit the bill in the middle rounds.

New England Patriot options in the draft

The Patriots can’t draft wide receivers. This space feels that using a high pick on a wide receiver is an exercise in futility for this personnel operation. Yet, should they not decide to go the preferred route of trade or free agency to fill the need, then who might do in the draft?

First, just stay away at least in the first two rounds. The team’s track record under Bill Belichick no matter who the Director of Player Personnel has been appalling.

The same admonition would hold sway for a cornerback that early. An exception would be to trade back up into the second round to get a top player.

So what potential game-breakers might be available in the middle rounds?

Pro Football Focus’ top 10 included two wide receivers who might help. The first is Jalin Hyatt, from Tennessee who’s 6’0″ and 180 pounds. PFF views the player as a day-two pick. That’s perfect.

Here’s their take on Hyatt,

"The 2022 Biletnikoff Award winner had the most impressive big-play season at the position in college football. Hyatt went for 1,267 yards and 15 scores while averaging 18.9 yards per catch…The junior has elite juice and was a nightmare on the vertical route tree to defend. His speed put off-coverage safeties in a massive bind trying to deal with him from the slot (87.3% of snaps there)."

Hyatt scores touchdowns and has a great blend of speed and size at 6″0″ and 185 pounds. He’d be a solid choice.

Next on the list for the Patriots would be Josh Downs of North Carolina. He’s a smaller receiver at 5’10” tall, 175 pounds and he’d play in the slot. Downs was very productive last season. cites his productivity and they slot him in between the second and fourth rounds. They had this to say about Downs,

"Downs totaled 83 receptions for 929 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2022. He played well for the Tar Heels and could be a dangerous slot receiver in the pros. Team sources said they see Downs as a second-day or mid-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft … Downs is a speedster receiver who could be a dangerous slot weapon in the NFL."

New England Patriots still need a tight end

The third target for the Pats in the April draft is a tight end. The New England Patriots tight end situation is still subpar even after spending big on Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry in free agency. They also wasted two third-round picks in 2020 on flops, Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene.

They need to draft a tight end in the middle rounds and not just on a throw-away pick later on. cites a player, Luke Musgrave from Oregon State, who was injured in 2022. If he checks out physically, he may be available in the mid-rounds and worth a pick.

Here’s how describes the tight end,

"Before the season, Luke Musgrave was documented as having a 4.51 40-yard dash and a 36.5″ vertical on Feldman Freaks. He was only able to play two games before a knee injury sidelined him for the rest of the campaign, but he provided enough validation in that window to support his declaration.At 6’6″, 250 pounds, Musgrave is a unique mold of tight end. Of the prospects on this list, he’s arguably the most explosive athlete, and he has a legitimate speed element in space once he can open up his strides. He’s also a flexible route runner who can extend beyond his frame and convert at the catch point."

These 2023 New England Patriots Mock Drafts are way off base. dark. Next

The New England Patriots took a chance on an injured tight end years ago, Rob Gronkowski. That worked out pretty well. No one’s as good, but Musgrave’s physical attributes if he’s healthy seem to warrant a mid-round pick if he falls that far. He’d be worth a flier.

Those are some thoughts on possible mid-round picks who might be game-breaking types for the Patriots. Who do you think they should draft? We’d like to hear.