Re-Grading the Patriots' 2023 Draft Class After Rookie Seasons

How did New England's rookies perform last year? Here's a look at how the Patriots' 2023 draft class is re-graded following Year 1.
Re-grading the Patriots' 2023 draft class.
Re-grading the Patriots' 2023 draft class. / Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports
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Smell that? It's the scent of the 2024 NFL Draft in the air as we're officially less than a week away from the annual spectacle. Even though most New England Patriots fans are excited to see which potential franchise cornerstones are found in the 2024 class, it never hurts to reflect on last year's draft showing.

After all, the 2023 NFL Draft was a busy one for the Patriots, who left the three-day event with 12 rookies in their possession. Now that last season is firmly in the rearview, and there's been time to reflect, we can properly look back to see how the team's latest rookie class performed.

Here's a look at the re-grades for the Patriots' 2023 draft class following their rookie campaign.

CB Christian Gonzalez (R1, Pick 17): B+

The Patriots' first pick of the 2023 draft is also one of the tougher ones to grade. After all, Christian Gonzalez was limited to just four games in his rookie season after tearing his labrum and dislocating his shoulder in a Week 4 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

At the same time, the former Oregon Duck made the most of his limited playing time. According to Pro Football Focus, Gonzalez was targeted a total of 24 times, only allowing 16 receptions (66.7%) for 157 yards without a touchdown and a 67.5 passer rating. He also broke up two passes and tallied an interception, en route to receiving a 79.3 coverage grade.

Gonzalez is poised to become one of the NFL's top cornerbacks, so let's hope he can pick up from where he left off this fall. I likely would've given him a higher grade if he played the entire season, but we'll stick with a B+ due to the limited sample size.

DE Keion White (R2, Pick 46): B

Keion White was a constant presence in New England's 2023 lineup, appearing in 16 games with four starts. His playing time also grew as the season went on, beginning with a 35% defensive snap share in Week 1 only to play 66% of opportunities in Week 18.

Although the ex-Georgia Tech defender wasn't a game-changer, he still managed to contribute by doing a little bit of everything. He recorded 12 solo tackles, three lost yardage tackles, a trio of broken-up passes, and one sack. His 67.8 run defense grade ranked 39th out of 112 eligible edge defenders on PFF, proving he's capable of above-average play.

I think that White could take his game to the next level if the Patriots coaching staff opts to use him more on the interior, rather than the exterior. He proved that he knows how to stop the run and continuing to pair him alongside Christian Barmore will only highlight that strength.

Based on his rookie performance, White should become a mainstay on the Patriots' defensive line for years to come.