The first round of the 2023 NFL Draft is less than 10 days away in Kansas City.
This year's event is a pivotal one for the New England Patriots, to say the least. After not making any major upgrades through free agency or the trade market during the offseason, the Patriots need to draft a couple players capable of filling a meaningful role from Day 1.
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One of those positions is offensive tackle. The Isaiah Wynn era is over, and the Patriots need a new left tackle.
ESPN experts Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr. unveiled a new joint 2023 NFL Mock Draft on Tuesday where they made predictions for each pick in the first three rounds.
For the Patriots' first pick at No. 14 overall, McShay projected they take Ohio State tackle Paris Johnson.
New England Patriots
"Man, I thought about tight end Dalton Kincaid here," McShay wrote in his analysis. "Patriots coach Bill Belichick loves two-TE sets, and Kincaid would be great with Hunter Henry. But quarterback Mac Jones also needs protection after struggles under pressure last season, and Johnson has the size, power and awareness to hold down left tackle. (Johnson also is versatile enough to play elsewhere along the line while Trent Brown is still under contract.)"
Johnson played very well for the Buckeyes, and he reportedly was one of two Ohio State stars who the Patriots held "extensive" meetings with a few weeks ago. Johnson also is ESPN's No. 2 ranked offensive tackle in the 2023 draft class behind Northwestern's Peter Skoronski.
In the second round, McShay projected the Patriots selecting University of Miami cornerback Tyrique Stevenson with the No. 46 overall pick.
"The Patriots re-signed Jonathan Jones, and their pass defense was pretty strong last season, but the cornerback room needs depth," McShay wrote. "Adding speed and physicality outside makes sense on Day 2."
Cornerback has been a popular position for the Patriots in the first round of many mock drafts. If they don't select a cornerback in Round 1, it wouldn't be surprising to see them get one on Day 2.
The Patriots finally added a wide receiver, SMU's Rashee Rice, in the third round of McShay and Kiper's new mock draft.
"Rice dominates over the middle of the field, and I could see him building a nice connection with quarterback Mac Jones as a reliable target," McShay wrote. "Even after New England signed JuJu Smith-Schuster, it wouldn't feel right exiting Day 2 of the draft without giving the Pats a wide receiver."
Three of the Patriots' most glaring roster weaknesses right now are offensive tackle, wide receiver and cornerback. Bolstering those three positions early in the draft would be an excellent plan of attack for the Patriots next week.