We are heading into the offseason in New England. The 2023 NFL Draft process is just beginning, but it’s not too early for New England to decide who the Patriots should pick in this spring’s draft. Retains the 14th overall pick in 2022 with an 8-9 record. This is his best draft pick in 14 years.

So the Patriots have an opportunity to add a rookie that can make a big difference in their first season in the league. Here are two draft candidates:

Boston College WR Zee Flowers

Perhaps no receiver has done more for less than Flowers in the last few seasons of the college game.

BC’s product was on the wrong end of quarterback injuries, inconsistency and poor play. After having a season of 56 catches for 892 yards for 10 total touchdowns in 2020, Flowers will have 44 receptions for 746 yards and 5 touchdowns in 2021, and will be a rookie for most of the season. Played with the backup quarterback or the injured Phil Julkovek.

Flowers stepped up their play in 2022, Jerkovek stepped back, and the quarterback situation at Boston University was a mess. Despite this, he not only won the ball, but found a way to play with it, averaging 13.8 yards per reception.

Flowers could be a legitimate and serious threat at the NFL level over his final three seasons at Boston College. Arguably his most impressive play was against Louisville in the 2022 season, when he grabbed his two defenders for the Cardinals at the line for 57 yards and his touchdown.

In the same game against Louisville, Flowers turned a supposedly losing screen pass into a 22-yard gain when he was pushed out of bounds at the 1-yard line after running from sideline to sideline.

Flowers aren’t the most physically intimidating receivers to look at. When he checked me in at the East-West Shrine Bowl earlier this week, he measured 5’9 and weighed 182 pounds.

But the Patriots’ coaching staff will be front row to see what Flowers can do as they coach Flowers at the Shrine Bowl this week. Flowers is reportedly so impressed that it looks like he might be able to up the draft board in the relatively weak wide-receiver draft class.

Unless they raise the board dramatically, Flowers should be available when the Patriots are on the clock with the 14th pick overall. lacked a receiver with the big-playing ability that Flowers has had for years, they should consider returning to catch him.

Illinois CB Devon Witherspoon

There was probably no higher draft prospect in 2022 than the Fighting Illini product.

Witherspoon dominated in 2022, recording three interceptions as opposing quarterbacks made only 22 of the 63 passes that targeted him. His play allowed Illinois to have an amazing 8-5 season. Oh, and he’s also a unanimous All-American, winning the Tatum Woodson Defensive Back of the Year Award, which goes to the best defensive back in the Big Ten.

The Witherspoon is also just the right size for the corner. The 22-year-old is listed as 6 feet tall and weighs 180 pounds, so his size shouldn’t be a concern when playing against most receivers in the NFL.

Witherpoon’s play and size have led many draft evaluators to list him as the best cornerback candidate in the 2023 NFL Draft. Pro Football Focus’ Mike Renner is one of them, who recently wrote that Witherspoon “feels like a Belichick pick.”

“Belichick has talked about his drafting philosophy over the years, but it’s not about height, length, size or speed,” Renner wrote. It’s how players play the game of football, and if you flip through the tapes of Devon Witherspoon, he’s playing the game of football right.”

The Patriots secondary can definitely use a corner with star potential like Witherspoon. Marcus Jones and Jack Jones, who were drafted by the Patriots in his 2022 NFL Draft, had a successful rookie season. for Defensive Rookie of the Year.

But both were round-round picks. Marcus Jones plans to be more slotted corners on his smaller frame.

The Patriots’ pass rush is already elite, so adding an elite shutdown corner could make it impossible for the team to move the ball in the air.

Northwest OT Peter Skolonski

Drafting an offensive tackle with the 14th overall pick isn’t the sexiest choice, but the Patriots prefer to add one early in the draft, unless they’re adding one through free agency or a trade. need to consider.

Skoronksi is the best option if they choose to add in the draft. After being named a first-team All-Big Ten in 2021, according to Pro Football Focus, Skoronski reached even higher levels in 2022 by allowing just six pressures in the entire season. It helped him become a match All-American and earn the Rimington Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year, which is awarded to the best offensive lineman in the Big Ten.

Skronksi is also seen as a versatile prospect, with some teams believing he could play one of Extension’s offensive lineman spots. But if the Patriots draft him, he should play the left tackle he played at Northwestern.

Trent Brown in 2022 wasn’t a terrible player, but he wasn’t a great player either. He allowed eight sacks and 39 pressures in addition to being one of the league leaders in penalties last season.

The Patriots need to give Mack Jones a chance to succeed in 2023, and it starts with protecting up front. Brown has played well at right tackle in 2021, and adding a left tackle like Skoronski, who is considered the best at his position in the 2023 class and projected to be a top 15 pick, would be a great addition. You can help the Patriots give Jones the protection he needs.

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