2023 NFL Draft: Patriots have an ace-in-the-hole approach to draft

Oct 30, 2022; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick before the game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 30, 2022; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick before the game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports /

The New England Patriots 2023 draft is approaching and in less than two weeks they will be on the clock with pick No. 14 in the NFL draft. The draft is a critical aspect of team building.

A great draft is critical to their playoff hopes next season. Now the team is notoriously poor generally at drafting. Their history over the past five or six years has been littered with high picks who can’t play.

Yet, this season, things are set up for the team so that they are almost, almost immune to messing up the draft terribly if they adhere to just one principle.

That principle is conducting a consensus draft, one that isn’t off the charts populated with monster reaches such as in 2022 for players who are way outside the box for the rounds in which they are selected.

In 2023, the team also has a nice ace in the hole, a trump card of sorts as they conduct the draft.

New England Patriots are on the clock shortly

The fly-in-the-ointment that can mess up the whole exercise, is not conducting a consensus draft. While this is a simple proposition generally, for the New England Patriots it is a challenge of the highest magnitude.

The team’s draft strategy is usually flawed. They value players at draft levels that no one else does. In 2022, both of their top two picks, guard Cole Strange and wide receiver Tyquan Thornton were huge reaches, were major reaches.

Strange played OK, though he was benched after several games and returned due to injuries to other players. Thornton was injured early and a non-factor.

Most of the time reaches won’t pan out. The advice here for the Patriots is, don’t reach at all. Select players where they should be selected.

New England Patriots can select almost any position

Now, here is the absolute ace-in-the-hole for the New England Patriots 2023 draft. Should the team conduct a consensus draft, they really can’t flub things up no matter what positions they draft.

The New England Patriots need help everywhere from the quarterback position which is in a state of flux (if not outright turmoil) to the offensive and defensive lines, to all skill positions.

Draft consensus players at any position, and you’ll be OK. This is a nice fallback position for any team, never mind one whose drafts were even criticized by their owner.

While there are positions of greater need such as offensive tackle, wide receiver, and cornerback, wherever the Patriots go positionally with their picks, especially early on in the draft, the team can improve. There really are no misguided positional decisions they can make.

Again, they can only botch the exercise by reaching for players. The opportunity cost is that reaches could have been taken later and you forego the opportunity to draft better players where they should have drafted them.

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That being said, this team has been a poor drafting team. Should Patriots Nation expect them to be anything other than that in 2023? Probably not.

The team currently has 11 picks. Take any position after trading up, down, whatever, and it’s a good positional pick (with the previously noted caveat of priority needs being of some concern).

That notwithstanding, if the team just conducts a draft that conforms to accepted norms of the wider NFL scouting and draft world, they will be just fine.

Is that modus operandi possible? Perhaps. Is it to be expected? Not at all. History bears out that without Tom Brady to make up for the team’s personnel mismanagement, they will flounder.

Next. Patriots 2023 NFL Mock Draft 2.0: Belichick goes for the gold. dark

Should we expect anything different in 2023? Not hardly while the current football hierarchy is in place. The post-Brady Patriots are mediocrity personified and owner Robert Kraft is not happy.

Yet, necessity is the mother of invention and hope springs eternal, as the old sayings go. Let’s hope for a great draft and see what happens. Maybe they’ll surprise us.