The New England Patriots bolstered their defense in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft by selecting Oregon cornerback Christian Gonzalez. Day 2 of the draft had a similar feel for Bill Belichick's team.
The Patriots added edge rusher Keion White from Georgia Tech with the No. 46 overall pick (second round), and then took Sacramento State linebacker Marte Mapu at No. 76 overall (third round). These two players bring much-needed athleticism and pass-rushing ability to New England's defense -- a unit that needs to get faster and younger.
Stay in the game with the latest updates on your beloved Boston sports teams! Sign up here for our All Access Daily newsletter.
The decision to use the first three picks of their draft on defensive players was an interesting one for the Patriots considering their strong needs at wide receiver and the offensive line. And you could also argue that defense was already the biggest strength of last season's squad.
But in the AFC, and especially in the AFC East division, a strong defense is very important given all of the elite offensive talent at quarterback and wide receiver. If you can't put consistent pressure on the likes of Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, etc., then you won't have much of a chance to make a deep playoff run.
What do the experts think of the Patriots' second- and third-round selections? First, here are the draft grades our Phil Perry gave for both White and Mapu:
New England Patriots
Keion White: B+
Marte Mapu: C
And here's a national roundup of draft grades for the Patriots' Day 2 picks.
Brent Sobleski, Bleacher Report: Keion White "B", Marte Mapu "B"
Scott Dochterman, The Athletic: Keion White "A-", Marte Mapu "A-"
Pro Football Focus: Keion White "Good", Marte Mapu "Good"
Joseph Acosta, SB Nation: Keion White "B+", Marte Mapu "A+"
Charles McDonald, Yahoo! Sports: Keion White "C", Marte Mapu "A"
Robert Zeglinski, For the Win: Keion White "B+", Marte Mapu "C-"