4 Aging Patriots Veterans Who Should Be Replaced in the NFL Draft

The New England Patriots need to find a few replacements in the NFL Draft for their aging starters.
\ / Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports
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Davon Godchaux & Deatrich Wise Jr.

Two defensive linemen struggled in the 2023 season, showing some age-related decline. Both players received career-worst defense grades on PFF with Davon Godchaux getting a 50.2 to Deatrich Wise Jr.'s 54.3.

As things stand now, both veterans are slated to start for the Patriots, Godchaux at nose tackle and Wise at defensive end. Considering that both players will turn 30 either before or during the 2024 season, it would behoove New England to look for their replacements in the NFL Draft.

To be fair, the defensive line was the least of the Patriots' worries last season. They had one of the stingiest run defenses in the league.

However, it's hard to see that Godchaux and Wise Jr. looking better than they did last season. Christian Barmore is 24 and is already one of the best in his position. Getting younger and matching Barmore's timeline with the rest of the defensive line makes plenty of sense.

The Patriots don't need to target replacements from early rounds in the draft. Wise Jr. is a team captain and both he and Godchaux can start for another season. But, their contracts also expire at the end of the season. Bringing in two prospects via the draft, letting them learn under the two veterans, and taking on the starting role in 2025 would be a solid strategy.

Hunter Henry

This is a similar situation to the status of the defensive line. Tight end is not an immediate need but this is a forward-looking exercise and Hunter Henry is not going to be able to sustain his level of production for much longer.

Let's make one thing clear: Henry is a very good tight end. He was arguably the best offensive weapon New England had last season, finishing with 42 catches, 419 yards, and six touchdowns. He led the team in scoring and was a reliable red-zone target.

As a result, he signed a three-year contract extension with the Patriots this offseason. However, he will also turn 30 during the season.

The tight end depth behind Henry leaves plenty to be desired. Mike Gesicki left in free agency and was replaced by another veteran in Austin Hooper. Hooper is fine as a TE2 but this makes playing 2TE formations rather difficult.

It would be nice if the Patriots had a young tight end they could develop under Henry, for him to take over as a starter next season. It's not an immediate need perhaps but rebuilding requires planning ahead and that's how the new top brass in Foxborough has to start thinking.

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