On the Clock: New England Patriots draft preview

The Patriots hold the 14th overall pick and rumors flew in every direction around New England in April.A disappointing season for the Patriots’ offseason led to an overhaul in the offseason, but reports of the franchise moving on from Mac Jones two years after he was drafted appear to be unfounded.Chances are that won’t be the case, especially with Bill O’Brien in at offensive coordinator and sharing that Alabama connection with Jones.Rather than using the 14th overall pick to replace Jones, the Patriots could use it to help him take a step forward.”Coach (Bill) Belichick, he’s, you know what type of franchise program they have over there,” former Ohio State wideout Jaxon Smith-Njigba said. “So, it definitely would be awesome being in that system. Mac Jones, also a great arm talent. Great quarterback. Definitely would like playing there.”With such an arsenal of draft picks at his disposal this year, Belichick would surprise no one if he dealt some — or most — of them on draft day.TEAM NEEDS1. CB: Veteran safety Devin McCourty’s retirement leaves a huge hole in the secondary. New England re-signed Jalen Mills during the offseason and has Jonathan Jones and Jack Jones, but it needs to get Myles Bryant off the field. Bryant has seemingly been a blown-coverage connoisseur, ranking 50th in coverage grade and catch rate against among 56 cornerbacks to play at least 450 coverage snaps last season, according to PFF.2. OT: Trent Brown is an unrestricted free agent following the upcoming season and 34-year-old Riley Reiff was only signed to a one-year deal, leaving plenty of questions as to what this O-line is going to look like come 2024 and beyond.3. WR: Adding JuJu Smith-Schuster in the offseason certainly gives New England some added depth, but the Patriots still don’t have a true No. 1 receiver. Last year’s second-round draft pick, Tyquan Thornton, finished with just 22 receptions, so he doesn’t appear to be in line to be a centerpiece of the offense.2023 DRAFT PICKSRound Pick (Overall)1. 14 (14)2. 15 (46)3. 13 (76)4. 5 (107)4. 15 (117)

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