With the 2023 New England Patriots draft in the books, I will take a look at the draft overall and the Day 3 picks.
The Beast Guide from The Athletics’ Dane Brugler provides the synopsis of each player:
4th #107 C Jake Andrews Troy – RAS 7.51, 5th Yr Sr, Ht 6026, Wt 305, 40 5.15, 20 ,10 1.77, Arm 31 7/8, H 10, Wing 78, Age 23.46.
The Beast Draft Guide from Dane Brugler of the Athletics had this to say: “Compactly built with a solid base … efficient slides and steps post-snap … plays with functional lower-body flexibility and redirect skills … highly detailed with his craft and pays close attention to his strike placement … proficient in the run game with his clamp hands and stubborn drive skills … well-developed strength with the ability to re-leverage himself when his feet are right (his wrestling background is an asset to his game) … works well in tandem, especially on combinations for quick release to the second level … mentally tough and competes with a noticeable edge … durable and started all 37 games the last three seasons, seeing extensive action at both right guard and center.
Overall, Andrews’ length limitations and average movement skills will ding his effectiveness as a puncher and sustainer versus NFL linemen, but his natural leverage and stubborn hands give him a fighting chance. Despite his versatile experience, he might be relegated to center-only status by NFL teams.”
What a way to start Day 3 of the draft! There were three trades before the day even started. The Patriots were picking 5th and the two remaining OTs worth taking, were taken just in front of them. Nick Saldiveri from Old Dominion and Blake Freeland from BYU were gone before the Patriots could open their eyes! The Patriots filled an area of need with the selection of Jake Andrews from Troy. Andrews is stout, standing 6026 and 305 lbs., almost identical to present center David Andrews. James Ferentz will be 34 this season and David Andrews will be 31. When David Andrews got hurt this year the Patriots offense struggled. Jake Andrews has experience at guard as well. He played 23 games at RG before moving to C and starting 15 games there.
His college line coach was former Patriots assistant line coach Cole Popovich. He is very familiar with the way the Patriots lineman were taught because Popovich used the Pats game film to instruct his players. Popovich has signed on with the Houston Texans. Could Jake Andrews move to RG and push Michael Owenu to RT? At the very least he is backup at two positions and insurabce should Owenu decide to leave during Free Agency next year. Andrews had one of the Top-30 visits the Patriots were allowed. Brugler had Andrews ranked as the #10 Center and probable 7th round selection. PFF had him ranked as the #237 player in the draft. Huge reach for the Patriots.
4th #112 K Chad Ryland Maryland – RAS N/A Ht 5116, Wt 190,Arm 30 1/8, Hand 9 3/8, Wing 72 ¼
The best available Tackle that was still on the board after Day One, was still there just before the Patriots were to pick. Dawand Jones was taken just before the Pats next pick. Something was wrong with Dawand Jones for him to drop all the way into the 4th round. Reports were that he had an attitude problem and that came through with the interviews teams had with him. The fans were shocked that San Francisco would use a late Round 3 selection on a kicker. He 49’ers took Jake Moody, generally considered a lock for the Patriots since they coached him at the East – West shrine game. The Patriots traded up 8 spots with the NY Jets (picks 120 and 184 for 112) in order to secure the next best K Chad Ryland of Maryland. This was the highest draft pick used on a Special Teamer in Bill Belichicks career. He walked on as a freshman at Eastern Michigan and made 100 of 104 Extra points in his career. He was also accurate from long distance make 6 of 9 FG attempts from beyond 50 yards and as long of 55 yards. After four solid year at Eastern Michigan, he transferred to Maryland utilizing the extra year all athletes were given for COVID. He impressed scouts at the Senior Bowl and his Pro Day when he kicked a 59 yard FG. Jim Nagy, Director of the Senor Bowl said this about Ryland “He has a big leg. He’ll be kicking for somebody on Sundays next fall.” Curios enough that Ryland’s holder in the Senior Bowl was his new teammate P Bryce Baringer.
4th #117 G Sidy Sow Eastern Michigan – RAS 9.72 6th Yr Sr, Ht 6046, Wt 323, 40 5.07, 20 3.01,10 1.82, Arm 33 5/8, Hand 10 3/8, Wing 81, Age 24.89
From The Beast: “Thickly-built and naturally carries bulk on his well-proportioned frame … physical and strong in the run game and credits his Olympic weightlifting in high school for developing his strength … aggressive into contact and drives his legs to widen the gap … pounces out of his stance and is comfortable on the move to pull/trap … anchors well in his pass sets with large hands and well-schooled, rapid-punch action … adequate lateral quickness to square half-man defenders … only one penalty (false start) as a senior in 2022 … played a lot of football in college with 55 career starts, including 49 straight to finish his career … has double-digit career starts at both left tackle and left guard. 4 year Teammate of K Chad Ryland. They keep in touch and had a facetime chat after Sidy was drafted by the Patriots.”
Redshirted his 1st year and started 11 of 13 games at LT in 2018. Moved to LG in 2019 and started all 12 games. In 2020, the COVID shortened 6 game schedule, he started all 6 at LG and was selected 3rd Team All-MAC. Started 13 of 13 games in both 2021 and 2022, at LG and made 1st team All-MAC both seasons. For his career he started 55 of 57 games. Played in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. Could he push Cole Strange to LT?
5th #144 G Atonio Mafi UCLA – 5th Yr Sr, Ht 6025, Wt 329, 40 5.53e (Calf Strain – Not Invited to Combine, No Pro Day) Arm 32 5/8, Hand 10 3/8, Wing 79 ¾, Age 22.52
From The Athletic, The Beast Draft Guide – “Big-bodied blocker with proportionate thickness and in-line power … showcases anvil hands to deliver stiff strikes and create knockback … displays the lateral footwork to stay out in front and execute reach/hook blocks … enough mobility to stretch frontside on outside zone … improved field vision to sort through exotic rush packages … unloads on bodies out in space, removing defenders from their feet and burying them … gets after defenders with a competitive spirit that comes naturally to him … he “radically” changed his diet to maintain his weight (peaked at 411 pounds earlier in his career) … tied a school record with 56 games played over his career, seeing action at both left and right guard. “
Cousin of former Patriots TE Devin Asiasi. Started his career as a DT with 14 starts his 1st two years. Transitioned to OL in 2020 with no starts. Started just 3 games in 2021 at RG. Started all 13 games at LG for UCLA in 2022. Played rugby most of his life. Attended Junipero Serra HS, same school as Tom Brady and David Bakhitari. Led the O-line and team to State D2 Championship. Elected Captain of the East-West shrine team.
6th #187 WR Kayshon Boutte LSU – RAS Inc 3rd Yr JR, Ht 5112, Wt 195, 40 4.50, 20 2.60, 10 1.56, Arm 31 3/8, Hand 9 ½, Wing 76 7/8, Age 20.97 (Slightly older than Christian Gonzalez 20.83) The two youngest players in the draft.
This what Dane Brugler had to say about Boutte: “Average-sized athlete, but his pliable body movements help him as a route runner and ball carrier … accelerates really well in the drive phase to challenge defensive backs … flashes the route instincts to sit down or create pockets of separation … not shy using physicality mid-routes and doesn’t let defenders bounce him from his path … at his best after the catch thanks to his body strength to run through arm tackles and his vision to complicate pursuit angles … able to expand his catch radius and sky for the ball … shows the athletic adjustment skills to contort his body and comfortably snatch away from his frame … was on pace for a record-setting sophomore year (led the FBS with nine touchdown grabs in the first six games) before his ankle injury … his performance against Ole Miss as a freshman (14/308/3) is something NFL scouts still talk about.”
Boutte was a freshman All-American with 45 catches for 745 yards and 5 TDs. However, his career went down from there. Led team in receiving in 2021 despite missing 7 games with an ankle injury. Missed two games in 2022 (flu and birth of his child). His poor testing at the combine could be related to a broken bone in his ankle. I don’t know if he needed surgery on it, but he has had two surgeries already. Called out by Coach Kelly for focus issues and immaturity. Doesn’t always run routes with the same purpose. Character will be closely monitored by the Patriots. This is why he lasted until the 6th round. Projected as the #1 pick after his great freshman season. Projected as a 4th round pick by The Beast.
6th #192 P Bryce Baringer Michigan State – RAS N/A Ht 6017, Wt 220, Arm 30 ½, Hand 8 7/8, Wing 74 ¼
Baringer led the FBS as the #1 punter. Baringer and Ryland were K and holder in the Senior Bowl. Baringer had a strange route to the NFL. He walked-on at Illinois in 2017 and didn’t play as a true freshman. He transferred to Michigan State for academic reasons and wasn’t going to play football when injuries to the two punters Michigan State had forced the Spartans to ask Baringer to play. He played the last 4 games of the season. Baringer lost his spot on the roster the following year then returned to the team in 2020 and showed improvement before becoming one of the best punters in the country over the last two seasons.
Baringer led the nation and broke his own program record by averaging 49.0 yards per punt with 24 of at least 50 yards and 22 downed inside the 20 last year. In addition to earning All-American honors, he became the first Spartan named Big Ten Punter of the Year and was one of three finalists for the Ray Guy Award, which is presented annually to the nation’s top punter.
6th #210 WR Demario Douglas Liberty – RAS 7.34 4th Yr Jr, Ht 5082, Wt 179, 40 4.44, 20 2.54, 10 1.54, Arm 30 ¼, Hand 8 ¾, Wing 72 ½, Age 22.3
From The Beast: “Plays with controlled burst and fluidity to create pockets of separation … uses agile footwork and body rhythm for quick stems … threatens the seam with his explosive acceleration … catches the ball cleanly in space or from compromised positions … nifty after the catch to glide away from defenders but also shows the toughness to drop his pads into contact … productive punt returner with a 7.1 average and two career touchdown returns (54/383/2) … added kick return duties in 2022, averaging 20.8 yards per return (14/291/0) … described by an NFL scout as a “charismatic kid” who wants to be great … combined for 14 catches for 269 yards (19.2 average) and three touchdowns against Arkansas and Wake Forest in 2022.”
Doesn’t drop the ball despite small hands. Only dropped 4 passes in over 100 attempts. Here is a RAS comparison with 1st round pick Zay Flowers:
Douglas gets dinged because of his short stature and weight. He also got dinged for his Bench Press, Short Shuttle, and 3-cone drill times, which Flowers didn’t do. Douglas had higher Vertical and Broad Jump which indicates he has more explosion. Bottom line is that they are very similar and Patriots got Douglas at a 6th round value.
6th #214 CB Ameer Speed Michigan State – RAS 8.86 6th Yr Sr. Ht 6033, Wt 209, 40 4.33, 20 , 10 1.56, Arm 32 5/8, Hand 8 5/8, Wing 78 ¾, Age 23.54
“This is a Bill Belichick special,” ESPN analyst Todd McShay said on Saturday. “He’s got traits to develop but he’s a darn good special teams player already.”
The Beast had this to say about their 46th ranked CB “A three-star recruit, he committed to Georgia over Michigan State and three other finalists. However, he struggled to find his footing on the cornerback depth chart and logged more snaps on special teams (518) than defense (336) over his five years in Athens. He transferred to East Lansing for his final season in 2022 and had a mixed season in his debut as a full-time starter. Speed lives up to his name with the wheels to turn and run with anyone downfield. He has impressive size and length but needs to put his long arms to better use in press and downfield. His route recognition and ball skills are both areas of concern. Overall, Speed doesn’t have the body of work or college tape of an NFL Draft pick, but he has enticing athletic gifts for his size plus a ton of special teams experience.”
7th #245 CB Isaiah Bolden Jackson State –RAS 9.44 5th Yr Sr, Ht 6022, Wt 201, 49 4.33, 20 , 10 1.54, Arm 32 ¾, Hand 8 ¾, Wing 76, Age 23.3
Speer played three years at Bolden had no write up in The Beast but he was ranked 33rd amongst the CBs. He transferred from Florida State to play for Deion Sanders at Jackson State, thinking that Neon Deion could help him get into the NFL. Bolden was listed a Free Safety in the NFL Draftscout and listed as a Preferred Un Drafted Free Agent in The Beast. So using all 12 picks the Patriots took a player they would normally be fighting other teams for as an UDFA. I think the same could be said for Ameer Speed.
Draft Analysis: This may have been one of the best drafts in Bill Belichick’s career. No one predicted that Gonzalez would fall to 14, never mind 17. Bill gets a bonus 4th round pick out of this. He blocks the Jets from getting their LT to protect Aaron Rodgers as well. In the 2nd Keion White, an invitee by the NFL to be at the Draft as a potential 1st round selection, falls to them in the 2nd round. Edge was an area of need that I thought would be addressed later, but they couldn’t pass on White. They never contacted White at all during the Draft build up because they never expected he would be there for them to draft. I love the Marte Mafu selection. Another Hybrid S/LB. They did announce him as a LB. Position flexibility and despite not having a RAS score he is known to be very athletic. Insurance in case they cannot sign Dugger next year. I didn’t like the Andrew selection as he was barely a 7th round player. Major reach. Wish they had taken an Offensive Tackle. Matt Groh seems very satisfied with their Free Agent signing, but I would have been looking at the future. The two Guards in the same draft is highly unusual for the Patriots. Some other interesting items:
3 Interior Lineman drafted
3 Special Teams players drafted
3 Cornerbacks taken that are all 6’2” + and all run 4.34
2 Wide Receivers taken late in the draft
Loved taking a chance on Kayshon Boutte. Too good of an athlete not to take a flyer on him. If he doesn’t get his act together he will get cut, but if he matures (2nd youngest player in the draft behind Gonzalez) they will have themselves a heck of a player. Was very excited when they took Demario Douglas. He is a true slot receiver that they have missed in the last few years. Speed … what a great name for a Special Teams player! Isaiah Bolden is a freak athlete with size and the only player drafted from a traditional HBCU school.
Antonio Mafi and Demario Douglas were both on the East – West Shrine game team the Patriots coached. Jake Andrews and Isaiah Bolden received one of the Top 30 visits as did several other draft picks.
UnDrafted Free Agents Signed
Malik Cunningham QB Louisville – The 5 year starter, he threw for 9,660 yards and 70 TDs. Cunningham ran for 3179 yards and 50 TDs. Cunningham stands 51106, 200 lbs and ran a 4.53 40 at the combine. He is open to a position switch. Cunningham received one of the highest contracts with a $30,000 signing bonus and a whopping $200,000 guaranteed. That probably guarantees Cunningham will be one of the Practice Squad players.
Johnny Lumpkin TE Louisiana-Lafayette – 6’6” 270
Lumpkin is a big guy at 6’6” but he only had 16 catches but had 4 TDs. He is primarily a blocking TE, but only had 13 reps at the Bench Press. At his Pro Day he ran 4.81. I think he is strictly camp fodder.
Jourdan Heilig LB/S Appalachian State – 6’ 215 lbs Helig was a Special Teams player for Appalachian State.
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