Report: Patriots had ‘extensive' pre-draft meetings with two Ohio State stars


The New England Patriots could go in several different directions with the No. 14 pick in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft.

As we've noted many times, wide receiver and offensive tackle are two of the Patriots' most glaring roster needs to address in Round 1. One school with players worthy of being first-round picks at those positions is Ohio State.

Buckeyes wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba is arguably the top-rated player at his position. He's an excellent route runner and has given many strong performances in big games, including his legendary 2022 Rose Bowl stat line

Next Pats Podcast: Jeff Hafley explains why Zay Flowers would CRUSH IT in the Patriots offense | Listen & Follow | Watch on YouTube

Another key player in the Buckeyes offense who will be a first-round pick is left tackle Paris Johnson. He is ESPN's second-ranked offensive tackle in the 2023 draft class.

The Patriots recently visited Ohio State and held meetings with both Smith-Njigba and Johnson, per Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer.

“I know when they were at Ohio State, they sent both Adrian Klemm and Ross Douglas, their line coach and their receivers coach, and they had extensive private meetings with Paris Johnson and Jaxon Smith-Njigba,” Breer recently said on the “Greg Bedard Podcast.”

The Patriots could have a tough decision at No. 14 if they want a wideout. TCU's Quentin Johnston, USC's Jordan Addison, Boston College's Zay Flowers and Smith-Njigba all are legit first-round talents and would add much-needed high-end skill to the Patriots' wide receiver depth chart.

2023 NFL mock draft: Pro Football Focus reveals new Patriots projections

Smith-Njigba played just three games in 2022 because of a hamstring injury. But in 2021 he tallied 95 receptions for 1,606 yards and nine touchdowns. He would give Patriots quarterback Mac Jones an explosive playmaker in the passing attack, something New England's offense has lacked in recent years.

However, Bill Belichick has drafted a wide receiver in the first round only once -- N'Keal Harry in 2019 -- during his 23 seasons as Patriots head coach. He has selected an offensive lineman in Round 1 four times, including left guard Cole Strange last year. And that's why you shouldn't rule out Johnson at No. 14. Offensive tackle was a problem for the Patriots last season due to penalties, injuries and lackluster performance. Johnson is very good in pass protection and has the physical tools needed to be successful at 6-foot-6 and 310 pounds.

The first round of the draft is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. ET on April 27 in Kansas City.

Contact Us