Much of the excitement that met the selection of Christian Gonzalez Thursday night largely dissipated 24 hours later.
The sagging offense that permeated the 2022 season seemed to be badly in need of help, but the talent of Gonzalez was too much to pass up in Round 1 so the offensive help would have to wait.
But that help never materialized in Day 2 as the Patriots instead stuck with defense with both picks. No trades to improve position and no additional help on offense. Instead, Bill Belichick chose a pair of interesting prospects who should fit into the Patriots system with their versatility.
View photos of Patriots second round pick, defensive end Keion White in action at Georgia Tech.
Keion White, a 6-5, 285-pound defensive end out of Georgia Tech, was tabbed in the second round with the 46th overall selection. White is more in the mold of Deatrich Wise based on his size and skill set. He's not a premier pass rusher but does provide some pressure with 7.5 sacks last season. He also has the size to hold up on the edge against the run, and could be a factor on the inside as a pass rusher on third downs.
Third-round pick Marte Mapu, a 6-3, 217-pound linebacker out of Sacramento State, who also played safety and could project as a member of the secondary in the NFL. He would be on the light side for a linebacker but in theory would have the athleticism to operate in the front seven, giving the Patriots a different kind of player from the normal skill set Belichick prefers.
Whichever spot Mapu winds up occupying, he should contribute on special teams immediately and could develop into a larger role in time.
But the bigger question is, when does the offense get addressed? There were opportunities to grab players at various positions, such as tight end (Darnell Washington, Tucker Kraft, Luke Schoonmaker), wide receiver (Cedric Tillman, Josh Downs) and offensive line (Luke Freeman, Tyler Steen), yet Belichick still opted for defense.
Only Belichick knows for sure what the mindset was about. But with the influx of firepower within the AFC and specifically the AFC East, it's possible he felt rather than try to bolster the attack in an effort to keep up it would be better to add to a defense that is already competitive.
Again, it's unclear what the line of thought was and that's perhaps a simplistic look at the decision to go defense when most Patriots fans felt the offense needed attention. It does make some sense considering the Patriots defense was at times excellent over the past two seasons but consistently struggled against quality offenses and quarterbacks. By adding some pieces to the puzzle, maybe the performance against the iron will improve to the point where New England isn't forced to keep up in shootouts but instead keep the score more under control.
With an astonishing nine picks at their disposal on Day 3, Belichick and Matt Groh will almost certainly be adding some offensive players. But at that stage of the draft, with four picks in the fourth and sixth rounds in addition to one of the seventh, any improvements would be of the developmental variety.
Assuming that's true, that's a lot of pressure to put on the other side of the ball.
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