The Patriots began the final day of the 2023 Draft with nine remaining selections and ended up using all of them in one way or another, drafting 12 total players, which included a trade-up deal with the Jets and a trade-down deal with the Raiders over the course of Saturday.
In the end, Day 3 was all about filling out the back end of the roster and taking some fliers on a couple of receivers, while adding two new specialists, highlighted by the selections of Maryland kicker Chad Ryland and Michigan State punter Bryce Barringer. The team currently has veterans Nick Folk and Corliss Waitman on the roster and ready to kick, but the young rookies should refresh the position and provide some stiff competition for the two older players.
The punter-kicker duo competed in the Senior Bowl together and already have a connection that will carry over into the pros.
"Chad and I have known each other for a long time, back from his days at Eastern Michigan then into the Big Ten with him at Maryland this year," Ryland told reporters after being selected. "Then also some familiarity, we were teammates at the Senior Bowl. So that was really awesome just to kind of see him go, and then be able to get the call. It'll be fun to be able to get with him."
The offensive line was another addressed area, as the team rounded out needed depth by adding center Jake Andrews and guards Sidy Sow and Atonio Mafi, all of whom are projected to provide valuable depth behind the established starters. The team signed three offensive tackles in free agency but looked to the draft to build out the inside.
Andrews, Sow and Mafi are highly experienced players with robust size as the Pats' preferences along the offensive line seem obvious every spring. Mafi attended Tom Brady's Serra High School and was among plenty of Patriots fans when he was selected.
"I'm actually having my draft party here at Sierra at the high school, so everyone kind of knows I grew up a Patriots fan and watching Tom Brady and it's kind of surreal," said Mafi. "It was kind of a full circle moment leading up there too. So really excited for the future."
View photos of Patriots fifth round pick, guard Atonio Mafi in action at UCLA.
The Pats finally gave fans what they were clamoring for in the sixth round taking two receivers, starting with LSU pass catcher Kayshon Boutte who had a disappointing end to his career with the Tigers after an elite start showed a high-impact playmaker. They followed that pick with Liberty's Demario Douglas, a slot receiver who posted 12 touchdowns over the last two seasons.
With thin depth at the receiver position, Boutte and Douglas should have an excellent chance to make the team if they can earn Bill O'Brien's trust and develop a rapport with Mac Jones.
Boutte seemed ready to turn the page on his college career.
"I would say that I want everyone to know that I am a hard worker and that I'm going to give 100 percent," said Boutte. "I feel like I have been doubted a lot, I feel like it's time for me to prove that I'm not that same person."
With their final two selections, the team added two cornerbacks with positive traits, Ameer Speed from Michigan State and Isaiah Bolden who played under Deion Sanders at Jackson State. Both are big players with good speed who could find a home on special teams while developing to play on defense, Bolden has extensive return experience that should help. They'll have their work cut out for them in a loaded secondary.
The Patriots spent the first two days of the 2023 Draft adding players at each level of the defense, but the final day saw them shift gears to offense and special teams. With a project 86 players on the roster after the robust draft haul, the team shouldn't be expected to be overly active in the undrafted free-agent market, with an early report from Tom Pelissero indicating that Louisville quarterback Malik Cunningham would be joining the squad after not being selected.
All the rookies are expected to be in town in the coming days, with rookie minicamp scheduled to start in the coming weeks and reporters first getting a glimpse at the team sometime in mid-May. It might be a year or two before anyone knows exactly how this draft class turned out but there are plenty of intriguing players to work with who should help propel the Patriots forward.
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