3 players Patriots must avoid in 2023 NFL Draft

The New England Patriots have a lot riding on the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft. They have made some interesting moves early on this offseason, whether it comes to their coaching staff or their personnel on the field, but it remains to be seen whether or not they have actually improved. A strong draft could be the determining factor in whether or not the Pats can bounce back from a rough 2022 campaign.

Even with their work in free agency being done for the most part it seems, New England has some needs on their roster that must be addressed. Their top three needs come at offensive tackle, cornerback, and wide receiver, with some secondary needs popping up at linebacker, the safety spot, and their defensive line as a whole.

Considering they are armed with 11 draft picks this year, the Patriots are well suited to address these needs, and there are clearly some good players available that they should be looking to add to their roster. But there are also some prospects who don’t appear to fit what the Patriots are looking for, so let’s look at three players New England should look to avoid in the upcoming draft.

3. Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern

This may be a confusing one, because for all intents and purposes, Peter Skoronski is the best tackle available in the draft. Skoronski is widely considered to be a top ten pick in the draft, and with the Patriots sitting at the 14th overall pick in the draft, there are some folks wondering whether or not Bill Belichick will make a rare move up the board in an effort to land Skoronski.

Skoronski has been a full-time starter the past two seasons for Northwestern, and he even played in nine games as a freshman as well. Skoronski managed to get better with each passing season, and it got to the point where he allowed just three pressures, two quarterback hits, and one sack over 881 snaps in his 2022 campaign.

If Skoronski were to fall to the Patriots at the 14th overall pick, they would likely be overjoyed. But moving up to land Skoronski just wouldn’t make a lot of sense, considering there are likely three or four other solid tackles that could be taken by New England at the 14th pick if they feel so inclined. Skoronski would be a dream pick, but if it involves moving up the board, it’s not a move the Pats should make.

2. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

The Patriots swapped out Jakobi Meyers for JuJu Smith-Schuster in free agency, but it’s clear they still need help at this position pretty badly. DeVante Parker, Kendrick Bourne, and Tyquan Thornton round out the depth chart for now, but chances are New England is going to add a top target in the draft, with many folks believing they could address the need in the first-round of the draft.

Unsurprisingly, Jaxon Smith-Njigba has been one of the wide receivers linked to New England, and it’s not hard to see why. Smith-Njigba broke out for Ohio State in 2021 (95 REC, 1606 YDS, 9 TD) and seemed well on his way to being the top wide receiver in this year’s draft class. Instead, Smith-Njigba barely played in 2022, and caught just five passes for 43 yards in the three games he played in.

Right off the bat, Smith-Njigba’s injury history is a valid concern, but he also isn’t the type of wideout New England needs right now. The Patriots need an outside threat who can make plays to help out Mac Jones under center. Smith-Njigba spent most of his time in the slot in college, and while he could play on the outside, a guy like Quentin Johnston of TCU would be a much better fit for the Patriots here.

1. Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State

More and more mock draft experts seem to believe the Patriots will draft a cornerback with their first-round pick, and the two most popular choices are Joey Porter Jr. of Penn State and Devon Witherspon of Illinois. Porter, the son of star linebacker Joey Porter Sr., seems like a logical pick for New England, and you probably can’t go wrong with either guy here.

Porter became a consistent presence in Penn State’s secondary over the past three seasons, and looks like one of the top cornerbacks in this draft class. Porter put together a standout campaign in 2022, allowing a quarterback rating of just 63.6 on passes thrown his direction, and his ability to matchup with opposing receivers in man coverage is extremely valuable.

There are flaws in Porter’s game, though, as he isn’t necessarily the most physical corner around, and he spent a lot of his time in the slot at Penn State. Witherspoon, on the other hand, is a physical corner who can match up against top wideouts in zone or man coverage, and has the ability to move all over the secondary. Both guys are good, but if they target a cornerback with their first pick, they should avoid Porter and try to get Witherspoon instead.

The post 3 players Patriots must avoid in 2023 NFL Draft appeared first on ClutchPoints.

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