Patriots Offseason

Here's where Patriots stand in ESPN's new NFL future power rankings

New England's future success very much depends on Mac Jones' development.

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The New England Patriots have done a better job finding talent in the draft in recent years.

The period of 2017 through 2019 was a little rough for the Patriots in regards to finding long-term players in the draft. Damien Harris and Sony Michel were decent picks, but there isn't much to show for those 24 selections in three years. In fact, none of the three first-round picks New England made during that span are still with the team.

It's obviously too early to judge the Patriots' 2023 NFL Draft, but their 2020, 2021 and 2022 drafts have produced plenty of good players. The most notable examples include Kyle Dugger, Josh Uche, Michael Onwenu, Mac Jones, Rhamondre Stevenson, Christian Barmore, Cole Strange, Marcus Jones, etc. There aren't any major home runs in that group, just a bunch of solid players who are starter caliber or better.

With this recent success in mind, how do the Patriots compare to the other 31 NFL teams when looking at the future?

ESPN released its 2023 NFL Future Power Rankings earlier this week. A group of ESPN experts rated how well each franchise is positioned for the future in the following categories: overall roster minus the quarterback, the QB, coaching, the draft and the front office.

The Patriots were 13th in ESPN's 2022 future power rankings, but in 2023 they come in at No. 16.

New England ranked 21st in overall roster (minus QB), 17th in quarterback, seventh in coaching, 19th in the draft and 14th in front office.

Under "reason for concern", ESPN's Louis Riddick wrote, "(Bill) O'Brien might be the most important coordinator hire in the NFL for the 2023 season. He must get Jones and this New England offense on the right track after an utterly embarrassing train wreck in 2022. Can he get it sorted out quickly enough, and does the offense have enough firepower overall to contend with the teams in their own division, let alone the rest of the conference, before ownership starts to consider a change at the very top?"

It's hard to rank the Patriots too high on this list when the quarterback situation is so uncertain. Jones played very well as a rookie in 2021 and helped lead the Patriots to the playoffs. His performance took a genuine step back last season, and he also missed three games with an ankle injury.

This upcoming season is a massive one for Jones. If he cannot take a meaningful step (or two) forward in his development under O'Brien, then it might be time for the Patriots to strongly consider making a change at that position.

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