Patriots upgrade huge weakness in Todd McShay’s first 2023 NFL Mock Draft

Patriots upgrade huge weakness in McShay’s first 2023 NFL Mock Draft originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The college football regular season is over and the NFL regular season has just four weeks remaining. Therefore, we can expect to see a bunch more 2023 NFL Mock Drafts start to get published in the coming months.

ESPN expert Todd McShay released his first 2023 mock draft on Tuesday, and he projects the New England Patriots addressing an important position on the offensive line.

McShay’s pick for the Patriots at No. 15 overall in the first round is University of Georgia offensive tackle Broderick Jones.

Here’s his analysis of the selection:

“Simply put, the Patriots won’t find significant success with Mac Jones at quarterback if they can’t keep him upright. They’ve allowed 32 sacks and posted a 57.8% pass block win rate this season — both registering as 19th best in the NFL. Jones has the size, quick feet and upper-body strength to improve this unit. He hasn’t allowed a single sack this season in 13 starts at left tackle, and Isaiah Wynn is on an expiring contract, so there will be a need at one of the team’s tackle spots in the offseason.”

Jones has been one of the best players on the nation’s best team this season.

Offensive line play, and the tackle spot in particular, has been a major problem for the Patriots this season. Injuries have hurt this group quite a bit, but even when guys are healthy, the performance as a whole has not met expectations. Trent Brown has committed seven penalties and is not playing well at left tackle. Isaiah Wynn has been penalized eight times and injuries have limited him to nine appearances (seven starts) in New England’s first 13 games.

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If the Patriots go offensive tackle in the first round next year, it will be the second consecutive draft they take an offensive lineman with their first pick. New England selected left guard Cole Strange from Chattanooga at No. 29 overall in 2022 — a pick that surprised pretty much everyone.

McShay is right, though. If Mac Jones is going to be a successful quarterback for the Patriots in the short- and long-term, he needs to be much better protected than we’ve seen in 2022.

So whether it’s the first or second round, bolstering the offensive tackle spot needs to be a priority for Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and his staff.

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