Ever since the New England Patriots failed to make the playoffs in 2022, all focus has been on the 2023 NFL draft.
The Patriots passing game struggled throughout the season. Mac Jones struggled in his second NFL season, throwing for less than 3,000 yards along with 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, per Pro Football Reference.
ESPN’s Todd McShay believes that New England will help out Jones by drafting a wide receiver in the first round by selecting wide receiver Quentin Johnson.
“The Pats have drafted one receiver in Round 1 since they took Terry Glenn in 1996, and it didn’t go well,” McShay wrote. “N’Keal Harry, selected at No. 32 in 2019, fizzled out in New England after just 598 yards over three seasons. But the Patriots have to do something here. Jakobi Meyers — who was the only WR in New England to crack 550 receiving yards last season — is about to be a free agent, which means quarterback Mac Jones needs a reliable target in the pass game.
“At 6-3 and 208 pounds, Johnston can stretch the field and win with physicality at the catch point. He totaled 1,069 yards last season and looked explosive in Indy last week with a 40.5-inch vertical and 11-foot-2 broad jump. I’m curious if he’ll run a 40 at his pro day on March 30 — a good time there could help his stock. The Pats have to see Sauce Gardner, Tre’Davious White and Xavien Howard in coverage twice each per season, so getting help on the outside is a key this offseason.”
Quentin Johnson Enjoyed his Meeting With the Patriots
The Patriots met with Johnson at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine. According to Evan Lazar of Patriots.com, the meeting went quite well.
“For example, TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnston told Patriots.com that he had his best meeting of the week with the Pats,” Lazar wrote. “Johnston was “feeling the love” from New England’s contingent and enjoyed his short time with the Patriots.”
Another ESPN Draft Analyst has the Patriots Selecting a WR
ESPN Draft Expert Mel Kiper Jr. also has New England selecting a wide receiver. Kiper has the Patriots taking Jaxon Smith-Njigba in the first round.
“The Patriots have a new offensive coordinator in Bill O’Brien and could look completely different on that side of the ball in 2023,” Kiper said. “That’s a good thing, because quarterback Mac Jones regressed last season. He’d benefit greatly from Smith-Njigba, a true No. 1 wideout who knows how to get open. Smith-Njigba is coming off a season in which a nagging hamstring injury limited him to five catches total, but he led Ohio State in catches (95) and yards (1,606) in 2021. Assuming his medicals check out and his hamstring won’t be an issue, he’ll be my top-ranked wideout in this class. There’s no consensus within the league on this receiver class at the top.”
Drafting a wide receiver makes a lot of sense for New England. Jakobi Meyers is slated to hit free agency after the Patriots didn’t use the franchise tag on him. Meyers was once again the top wide receiver for New England in 2022 as he racked up 67 receptions for 804 yards and six touchdowns per Pro Football Reference.