With the No. 135 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Patriots select:
Seems like there’s no shortage of strong safeties if you’re looking for an extra defender to put in the box. But strictly free safeties to defend the deep middle of the field are a lot harder to come by. That’s what the New England Patriots need, and Cal’s Daniel Scott seems to be one of the few.
Scott is a football centerfielder. He’s at his best watching the quarterback and attacking the ball. He has excellent agility to change directions (performed well in the 3-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle run) and the speed/range to patrol the secondary.
Scott has plenty of special teams experience (which the Patriots would love) and he was a team captain. To top it all off, Scott wore 32. If New England is looking for a Devin McCourty replacement, Scott checks a lot of the boxes.
As for tackling, that box is blank. It’s disappointing a 6-0 200-pound safety doesn’t use that body physically. If the Patriots can improve this aspect of his game, Scott would be worth the selection in the long run.
Or New England could go in a different direction and double-dip at offensive tackle. It’s an idea I’m on board with. They could do the same at cornerback, but for now it’s the other bookend for the O-line.
Freeland is a towering tackle at 6-8 but weighs a hair over 300 pounds. Physically he’s not ready to handle right tackle, but a year in the Patriots training program should get Freeland strong enough to handle powerful pass rushers. Freeland is an excellent developmental prospect for the future.