The 2023 NFL Draft is finally upon us and with it the chance for the Patriots to use their 11 projected picks to make some impact selections that will help them get back into the playoffs. After a plethora of mock drafts, big boards, analysis and discussion across the Unfiltered podcast network, here's how the writers from Patriots.com see the draft unfolding from a Patriots perspective.
After what the Patriots did in Free Agency this spring, what do you see as the team's top needs entering the 2023 draft?
Nothing has changed, really. WR1, CB, T and the best player available at any other position. -Fred Kirsch
Free agency hasn't really affected my views with regard to the Patriots top needs. In order I'd put tackle, cornerback, edge rusher and wide receiver at the top of the list. – Paul Perillo
I think we all agree that wide receiver, offensive tackle, and corner are their three most glaring needs. However, that doesn't necessarily mean they'll address those three positions at the top of the draft. Based on all the information we have, it wouldn't surprise me to see the Patriots go in a different direction in the first round by taking an edge rusher. I believe they'll go where the board takes them rather than reaching for a need, which got them into trouble last year. -Evan Lazar
WR, DB – Alexandra Francisco
The top need for the Pats has to be a difference maker at WR or CB. The Patriots need someone that strikes fear into the opposing team on both sides of the ball. We need a true CB1 that can lock up the Diggs, Hill, and Garret Wilsons of the world. And on the flip side.. we need a WR that corners such as Sauce Gardner and Tre'davious White actually have to be concerned about. -Matisse Baumann
We've all been in lockstep regarding these needs and they weren't really impacted by free agency, other than adding some tackle depth. They still need impact players at cornerback, tackle and wide receiver. Those are both immediate and long-term needs, but it's less about depth and more about getting game-changing talent. -Mike Dussault
Favorite free agency addition(s) this spring?
Mike Gesicki brings added ball skills and a solid target for Mac Jones at the tight end position. Should be an upgrade over Jonnu Smith who never gained traction. If you're worried about a blocking tight end, one of those can easily be picked up in the draft. -FK
Miami tight end Mike Gesicki. He should add some athleticism to the passing game at the position. – PP
It has to be JuJu. Although he won't make them an elite offense single-handily, Smith-Schuster comes with legitimate cache as a former Pro Bowler and brings much-needed explosiveness after the catch. Seeing how Bill O'Brien uses him in the passing game will be fun. -EL
Does Bill O'Brien count? No? Mike Gesicki. -AF
I can't believe I'm saying this because personally I like flashier signings, but it's Mike Gesicki. He's 27 years old and gives the Patriots big red zone target which they haven't had for several years. He's done damage against the Patriots in years past so it's nice to get him on our side. -MB
I'm most intrigued by Mike Gesicki who is a unique player who should bring a different kind of twist to Bill O'Brien's offense. He's really the only major difference on offense at this point in my view and I'm hopeful he'll be impactful. -MD
If the Patriots only address one position in this draft it has to be…
Offensive tackle. -FK
Tackle. The offensive line struggled at times last year and the uncertainty at the tackle position heading into 2023 is a concern. – PP
Wide receiver. Until the Patriots have 'the guy' at wide receiver, they must keep throwing darts at the position. That doesn't necessarily mean they need to take a wide receiver in the first round, but they have to use another top-100 pick at the position. Although the Pats haven't reaped the benefits yet, there are plenty of recent examples where teams find number-one receivers on day two. -EL
It's hard not to say receiver, but I think with how deep this year's class allegedly is at cornerback, it would be tough to swallow a scenario where we didn't add someone ready to contribute to that group. -AF
WR, the Patriots need to get Mac a guy that he can trust. He had that connection with Jakobi Meyers now he's gone. Lets get him a true WR1 this year. -MB
Offensive tackle. I just think their injury issues and lack of long term stability at the position are the most glaring on the roster. Whether they get one at 14 or a developmental guy later, I feel like they will absolutely select at least one. -MD
Is there a darkhorse position that you think the pundits are ignoring or downplaying?
I've been looking for more speed at linebacker for a while. -FK
Edge rusher. Matthew Judon is solid but isn't getting any younger and Josh Uche is entering the final year of his deal. This crop of edge rushers is pretty deep and would fill a need for the Patriots. – PP
I already mentioned edge rusher. But that feels like a position the Patriots A. Like the first-round options and B. Could look to stay ahead of Josh Uche's contract year and an aging Matthew Judon's decline. The Pats hosted Tyree Wilson, Nolan Smith, Myles Murphy, and Lukas Van Ness on top 30 visits, while the consensus around the league is that it's a terrific class for edge rushers. Belichick loves to build his teams from the inside out. -EL
It's not flashy, and New England probably jumped the gun at this position, but I don't think enough people are talking about the needs at OL. -AF
Not sure if this is exactly a darkhorse, but I really do think the team needs to address the edge/DL. Someone in addition to Josh Uche that can match up on 3 downs opposite Matthew Judon. -MB
I've been saying it so much it's no longer a darkhorse position, and that is edge. You just don't hear the pass rush drum being banged that loudly after last season's production but I think it's a real possibility at 14th overall as the one position outside of CB and OT that makes sense. -MD
Is there one particular player in this year's draft that you'd like to highlight as a favorite Patriots fit?
I'd love for Iowa's Lukas Van Ness to fall just a bit for the Patriots at 14. He's primarily a defensive end but he can move inside. Big, explosive, nasty. If he's available, it would be hard to pass on him, even with the more urgent needs at receiver, tackle and corner. -FK
I like Darnell Washington's fit for the Patriots. Big, athletic tight end with the potential to be more productive as a receiver in the NFL than he was at Georgia. – PP
Everyone knows by now that my answer is Zay Flowers. This offense desperately needs a big-play weapon like Zay. He has elite play speed, jitterbug quickness before and after the catch, and separates at all three levels with great vertical double moves. Flowers is built for today's NFL, where explosiveness and separation quickness trump size. -EL
I won't pretend that I stalk these college kids the way Evan does, so as the resident Lifestyle Reporter, it would be a cool story angle to see Zay Flowers stick around Boston. -AF
I was leaning towards Jordan Addison from USC most of the offseason but as the draft rapidly approaches, I think it's Christian Gonzalez from Oregon. He's a day 1 starter and that #0 he wears will look good in a Patriots jersey. -MB
Jayden Reed. I know it's weird to pick a mid-round guy, but I think he has a lot of what the Patriots offense needs and at an affordable price. Gonzalez is my favorite fit in the whole draft. -MD
The Patriots first draft pick trade of the weekend will be a trade up or a trade down?
Since we're being told this is a trade down draft, the Patriots will trade up to get things going. -FK
The Patriots will trade down in the first round in an effort to add some picks in Day 2. – PP
Believe it or not, I'm going to say trade up for two reasons. One, I think it's reasonable to predict a first-round trade-up for a top defensive prospect. And two, if they stay put in the first round, the Pats have traded up in the second round in five consecutive drafts dating back to 2018. The favorite is a trade down, but the aggregate between trade-ups in the first or second round takes the majority. -EL
Trade UP! Let's get crazy! -AF
Since I've been here the team has either traded back or stayed with their initial selection. This is the year they trade up and make some noise! -MB
I think a trade down to 20ish is the most likely scenario as much as I could make the case that they should trade up for Gonzalez or Paris Johnson. -MD
One for the rival teams… Please don't let (AFC TEAM) get (FUTURE STAR ROOKIE).
I could do without Zay Flowers going to the AFC East, just so we don't have to hear the moaning about why the Patriots didn't get him. Aside from that, let's have Michael Mayer the outstanding tight end from Notre Dame go elsewhere far away in the NFC. -FK
I'd say any of the top teams acquiring any of the top skill guys. I'll go with Buffalo getting Jaxon Smith-Njigba or Jahmyr Gibbs. Not fun. – PP
Zay Flowers to the Bills. Buffalo has toyed with adding a true slot receiver to complement Diggs and Davis all offseason. Flowers in that offense would be unfair. If Flowers becomes a star in Buffalo, that might break me as a Pats fan. -EL
Please don't let the JETS trade all their picks for Aaron Rodgers (editor's note – too late) and please don't let the DOLPHINS get an un-retired Tom Brady 2.0 if they don't draft a QB to backup Tua. -AF
Please don't let the Chiefs get Zay Flowers.. this guy is a stud and if the Pats don't take Addison then Zay would be my second choice. He's already been spotted working out with Mahomes and that is just another terrifying aerial threat for the defending Super Bowl champs. -MB
Please don't let the Bills get Bijan Robinson. He might be the missing element that puts that offense over the top while taking some heat off of Josh Allen. -MD
This year's draft will be a slam dunk (on paper Saturday night) if…
…the first four picks make sense to the vox populi of draft nerds. -FK
The Patriots are able to bolster the offensive line, add athleticism to the secondary and pass rush, add a receiver and a versatile tight end and maybe find a developmental quarterback. – PP
The Patriots come away with an offensive playmaker who we can all honestly say has the potential to become an impact player. Nothing moves the needle more than a game-breaking receiver who demands extra attention and still produces. -EL
… we've added a baller DB, a promising receiver who seems like more of a sure thing than Thornton, OLine depth that's ready for NFL talent, and some young linebackers to grow into solid depth pieces. -AF
The Patriots can address WR, CB, and OT in Day 1 or 2 (preferably in that order!). Lets get some guys that can contribute on day one. Personally, I feel like the OL can be addressed in the later rounds where you can still find talent. Lets address the skill positions in the early rounds and worry about the rest later. -MB
A spark of potential playmakers on offense. Whether it's a receiver, tight end or receiving back (or why not all three?) I want to feel like there are some new exciting ingredients on offense. No matter what they do on defense I believe they'll be okay, but they need studs on offense and that would even include the offensive tackle spot even if that's not a "potential playmaker." -MD