The perfect Patriots cornerback in the 2023 NFL Draft


The 2023 NFL Draft is more than three months away, but it's never too early to speculate about where the top prospects will land.

The New England Patriots will have the 14th overall pick and they could go a few different ways with their first-round selection. The tackle position probably is their biggest need, followed by cornerback and wide receiver. Of course, Bill Belichick loves a good surprise, so there's really no telling what they could have up their sleeve.

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Nonetheless, Pro Football Focus' Mike Renner gave his best shot at predicting Belichick's first-round selection in his latest mock draft. He joined our Phil Perry on a new episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast to discuss the player he has New England taking at No. 14.

You can view Renner's full 2023 NFL mock draft here.

Next Pats Podcast: FOUND: Perfect Patriots cornerback in 2023 NFL Draft | Listen & Follow | Watch on YouTube

"Devon Witherspoon. Illinois cornerback," Renner said. "He just feels like a New England Patriot type of player. I've gone back through and I try to like figure out sort of draft trends, what do different GMs, decision-makers kind of value when they're looking at draft picks. And to me, Bill Belichick, if he has a type, it's football players. It's guys who play the game the right way sort of players. Devon Witherspoon fits that to a T.

"I mean, he is a guy that is going to hit you. He's gonna come up and tackle in the run game. He is going to do the dirty work that no one sees in terms of taking on blocks on the outside, setting the edge on those screens and whatnot. And he's a damn good press-man corner, 113 snaps of press coverage this year. He allowed one-yard press coverage. So a little bit of a late bloomer, maybe a little undersized at 180 pounds, 6-foot. But as far as just football player goes, that guy on tape is amazing."

Renner isn't putting Witherspoon on the same level as some of the top cornerbacks taken in the last two drafts, but he's excited about the Illinois product's raw potential.

"I thought the top two (in the 2022 draft) were special in Derek Stingley, Sauce Gardner. The year prior to that Patrick Surtain, Jaycee Horn I'd still put above any corner in this class. But after that he's, for not kind of ticking all the size, speed box -- you know, all-around measurable boxes for not being an elite physical talent, just his on-field performance, is about as good as you'll see from a prospect to project to the next level. So he's not quite in that realm of size, speed freaks, but he is a damn good prospect in his own right."

Also in the new episode: Why offensive tackle Broderick Jones may not be worth a first-round pick, and breaking down the 2023 OT draft class.

Check out the latest episode of the Next Pats Podcast on the NBC Sports Boston Podcast Network, or watch it on YouTube below:

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