Patriots headed for 4th place finish in AFC East

Posted: May 1, 2023 in Football, NFL, NFL Draft
Tags: , , ,

After failing to secure substantial upgrades at key offensive positions, New England can expect to pick early in the 2024 draft. Buffalo largely keeps their first place roster intact, Miami still boasts Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill on offense and adds Jalen Ramsey in the secondary, and the Jets bring in Aaron Rodgers and draft two starters in the first two rounds with Will McDonald IV and Joe Tippmann.

The Patriots major offseason moves include signing offensive tackle Riley Reiff, wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster, and tight end Mike Gesicki. Reiff is listed at the starting right tackle on’s depth chart. Heavily penalized and inconsistent Trent Brown looks to be the starting left tackle for the 2023 season. Gesicki had his moments with Miami, but is unlikely to be a key contributor with an undersized QB like Mac Jones who may struggle to see the middle of the field.

While Bill Belichick deserves some credit for adding value players throughout his draft haul, at no point did he add even a late round offensive tackle to compete with Trent Brown. Even right tackle is still a question as Reiff hasn’t been a high level blocker in some time. Players like Dalton Wagner and Richard Gouraige, starting SEC left tackles went undrafted and signed with rival AFC teams while New England finished off their draft with two defensive backs after making two of their FIRST three picks defensive backs.

Veteran wide receiver Kendrick Bourne commented about the pass protection for Mac Jones in early December after a frustrating loss to a vulnerable Bills team that now runs the division ever since Tom Brady left New England.

“We’ve got to get the ball downfield. Mac needs more time. He’s obviously running around. It’s hard to get the ball downfield when you can’t really have time to throw,” Bourne said. “No knock to the line, it’s just what we need to work on. The receivers can’t do nothing if the ball can’t get downfield, if we can’t throw it past five yards, it’s going to be a long game.”

In what may be Bill Belichick’s final season with the team, the Patriots formula of “Run the ball, play defense” may not be enough to compete in what is shaping up to be the toughest AFC East in NFL history.

Patriots projected depth chart via ESPN –

List of New England draft picks –

Patriots undrafted free agent signings (as of May 1st, 2023) –

Christian Gonzales photo attribution – Tennessee Titans (4:36), CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Song of the post is Moondust by Jaymes Young

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