New England Patriots Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell





Solid Starter

Keion White, DE, Georgia Tech – Round 2
The Patriots’ selection of White looks like a planning-ahead move. Veteran edge rusher Matt Judon turns 31 during training camp and is entering the final two years of his contract with New England. Across from Judon, young veteran Josh Uche is entering the final year of his contract and could receive a big deal in free agency. Hence, it made sense for the Patriots to take a young edge rusher to go with their veterans.

White’s biggest asset as a pass rusher is that is he very quick off the edge ans has the agility to weave around blockers. He has a quick first-step and get-off that puts offensive tackles on their heels. White is good in space but also athletic enough to stand up over tackles or put his hand in the ground and rush from defensive end. He could be a fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker. In a 4-3 defense, he could be a right end. White needs to continue to develop some his pass-rushing moves for the NFL because he is too reliant on speed and athleticism.

In the ground game, White could stand to improve his ability to shed blocks and break free after linemen get their hands on him, and he also will have problems defending downhill runs coming straight at him due to his size. Hence, White (6-4, 260) will need to be part of a rotation, at least in the early going of his career.

As a rookie, White could be a solid rotational player behind Judon and Uche. White could then take over a starting spot in a year or two. With his speed and athleticism, White definitely has the potential to turn into a solid starter for New England.

2022: Cole Strange, G
2021: Mac Jones, QB
2020: Anfernee Jennings, LB
2019: N’Keal Harry, WR
2018: Isaiah Wynn, OL
2017: Derek Rivers, DE
2016: Jon Thuney, G
2015: Tre Jackson, G
2014: Jon Halapio, G
2013: Logan Ryan, CB



Most Likely To Bust

Marte Mapu, LB, Sacramento State – Round 3
The Patriots made a bit of a surprise selection when they took Mapu in the third round. He was a nonsense third-day prospect, but Bill Belichick has never hesitated to discard the conventional wisdom of the scouting community.

There are a few issues that could lead to Mapu not panning out. One, he is making a huge jump in competition, which many players are unable to accomodate. Two, the 6-foot-3, 217-pounder is a tweener outside linebacker/safety. Players with that body size and skill set can have a tough time holding up as an outside linebacker in run defense and are not fast enough or agile enough to be an every-down starter at safety.

Third-round picks are expected to start out as backups and develop into starters, but I could see Mapu falling short of that and topping out as a backup who contributes on special teams. He looks like the biggest risk of busting from among New England’s early-round picks.

2022: Tyquan Thornton, WR
2021: Christian Barmore, DT
2020: Devin Asiasi, TE
2019: Yodney Cajuste, OT
2018: Ja’waun Bentley, LB
2017: Deatrich Wise, DE
2016: Cyrus Jones, CB
2015: Jordan Richards, S
2014: Bryan Stork, C
2013: Duron Harmon, S



Potential Boom Pick

Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon – Round 1
Gonzalez has an excellent skill set with size, speed and athleticism. There is no doubt that he has No. 1 corner talent, but the big knock on him is a lack of toughness. His tackling was problematic, and he allowed himself to be pushed around by receivers. Many teams moved Gonzalez down their boards because of his lack of toughness. However, if he gets a little better at the physical side of the game, he could be a tremendous cover corner.

here really isn’t anything that Gonzalez can’t do in coverage. He is fast, athletic, long and fluid. Gonzalez has the speed and agility to run the route and prevent separation. He does an excellent job of staying in phase and not taking false steps that allow distance to develop. He can flip his hips and run along the sideline while using his length and athleticism to close, and he displays impressive recovery skills. Gonzalez can handle big receivers or speed receivers, and has shown the ability to play press man, off man, or zone.

Gonzalez has the No. 1 corner mentality in that he is comfortable playing on the island and going one-on-one with receivers. He doesn’t need safety help and doesn’t panic when passes are coming his direction. With advanced composure and poise, Gonzalez stays calm and avoids penalties by not grabbing or getting too physical. As a junior, Gonzalez showed improved ball skills, but he still needs to get better at playing the ball and tracking it downfield.

Teams, however, shared they felt that Gonzalez can be inconsistent in coverage and occasionally give up some plays that he shouldn’t given his amazing skill set. That was seen in touchdowns he gave up against Washington and Arizona among others. If Gonzalez can get more consistent and play tougher, he definitely has boom-pick potential for New England.

2022: None
2021: None
2020: Kyle Dugger, S
2019: Joejuan Williams, CB
2018: Sony Michel, RB
2017: Antonio Garcia, OT
2016: Malcolm Mitchell, WR
2015: Malcom Brown, DT
2014: Dominique Easley, DE
2013: Jamie Collins, LB



Future Depth Player

Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU – Round 6
In the early going of the 2023 NFL Draft process, Boutte was in the consensus of the top receiver prospects. His 2022 season, however, did not go well, as he had some ugly games, drops, and never clicked with new quarterback Jayden Daniels. Boutte though flashed next-level ability in 2021, which definitely could be seen in his tape. While Boutte may not turn into a consistent starter, he could be a solid backup rotational receiver who contributes well behind New England’s starters.

2022: Marcus Jones, CB
2021: Rhamondre Stevenson, RB
2020: Dalton Keene, TE
2019: Damien Harris, RB
2018: Braxton Berrios, WR
2017: Conor McDermott, OT
2016: Jacoby Brissett, QB
2015: Trey Flowers, DE
2014: Cameron Fleming, OT
2013: Aaron Dobson, WR






Walt’s 2023 NFL Draft Grades:

17. Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon – A+ Grade
Holy s**t, I got a Patriots pick correct! If the site didn’t suck tonight, I’d be so happy right now. Christian Gonzalez has fallen because some teams believe he has no toughness. However, he is super talented and fills a big need for New England. Gonzalez could have easily gone No. 7 overall, so I love this pick.


46. Keion White, DE, Georgia Tech – A Grade
The Patriots have numerous expiring contracts at defensive end in the next couple of years, so they had to find a pass rusher for the long haul. Keion White had a slight chance to be a first-round pick, so I think this is a great value pick for Bill Belichick, who is having a great draft thus far.


76. Marte Mapu, S, Sacramento State – MILLEN SHOVING A MAPU UP THE BACKSIDE Grade
What is this, seriously? The Patriots could have moved down two rounds and drafted Marte Mapu. I didn’t even have him as a definite pick in all seven rounds, as he’s too small to be a linebacker and too slow to be a safety. Bill Belichick loves going off the board like he did last year with Cole Strange, and this is another instance of that.




107. Jake Andrews, C, Troy – C- Grade
Patriots fans can’t be upset with the team drafting an offensive lineman, given how bad the blocking was last year. However, Bill Belichick is going off the board again, as Jake Andrews was a borderline draftable prospect. New England should have traded down.


112. Chad Ryland, K, Maryland – DON’T KICK THE 100-PERCENT USDA MAN IN THE NUTS MILLEN Grade
Not only did the Patriots waste a fourth-round pick on a kicker; they traded up for one! This is a Millen grade, through and through. Kickers should be chosen in the late rounds, and no one should ever trade up for one.


117. Sidy Sow, G, Eastern Michigan – D Grade
Talk about going off the draft board. I never once considered putting Sidy Sow in the seventh round of my mock draft, so the Patriots are just beginning the UDFA segment early. At least they addressed the offensive line…




144. Atonio Mafi, G, UCLA – B Grade
This is a player who could have gone where the Patriots selected some of their other reaches. Another blocker makes sense, and Atonio Mafi is a powerful blocker who can blast open big running lanes for Rhamondre Stevenson.


187. Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU – A Grade
Kayshon Boutte was considered a first-round prospect this time last year. He then disappointed production-wise at LSU, and then proceeded to test very poorly at the combine. Still, he’s well worth drafting at this point, especially given the Patriots’ poor receiving room.


192. Bryce Baringer, P, Michigan State – B Grade
I’m not going to bash a punter pick in the sixth round. Punters, like kickers, are abominations, but you can draft an abomination in the sixth round. This is much better than a kicker in the third round.


210. Demario Douglas, WR, Liberty – B Grade
Demario Douglas is at his best when running after the catch. However, he’s a smaller wideout at 5-8, 179. This caused him to fall, but I’m fine with the Patriots taking him here.


214. Ameer Speed, CB, Georgia – C Grade
Ameer Speed is a huge, 6-3 cornerback, but he has some severe speed concerns. He’s also very prone to being penalized. There’s a lot of work to do with him, but maybe Bill Belichick can turn him into a good player.


245. Isaiah Bolden, KR, Jackson State – B Grade
Isaiah Bolden is listed as a cornerback, but he could be New England’s kick returner. He scored two kickoff touchdowns in 2021, so I’m all for taking someone like that at this spot.


2023 NFL Draft Team Grade: B-. Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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