NFL Draft Notebook: Tackle Early In New England Patriots Mock Draft

Sep 17, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes running back TreVeyon Henderson (32) is lifted by offensive lineman Paris Johnson Jr. (77) after his touchdown run during the first quarter against the Toledo Rockets at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 17, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes running back TreVeyon Henderson (32) is lifted by offensive lineman Paris Johnson Jr. (77) after his touchdown run during the first quarter against the Toledo Rockets at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports /

This week’s NFL Draft Notebook examines what the New England Patriots might do in the 2023 NFL Draft. This draft will be critical for the Patriots as they likely will be playing in the toughest division in the NFL, and need to shore up some critical needs. In this mock draft we see the Patriots addressing their most significant need in the first round which is offensive tackle, and also addressing a secondary that needs to add depth to its roster.

In addition to taking a look at what New England may do in the 2023 NFL Draft this week’s article also looks at the following

  • Why Bumper Pool is one of the more underrated players in the 2023 NFL Draft
  • The top five cornerbacks in this year’s draft
  • An ideal landing spot for Hendon Hooker
  • And much more

New England Patriots Mock Draft

Round 1, Pick 14: Paris Johnson, OT, Ohio State
The biggest need for the Patriots this offseason is the offensive tackle position. Even with the team signing Riley Reiff they need a long-term answer at this spot. Ohio State’s Paris Johnson is an impressive athlete and has all the skills needed to develop into a Pro Bowl caliber player.

Round 2, Pick 46: Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina
The Patriots need to add some depth at the cornerback position which they do with a selection of Cam Smith. Smith is a 6-foot-1 corner who shows the ability to consistently challenge receivers.

Round 3, Pick 76: Xavier Hutchinson, WR, Iowa State
New England needs to continue to add offensive weapons if Mac Jones is ever going to play at a high level. Hutchinson is a polished receiver who has some of the best hands in the draft.

Round 4, Pick 107: Jordan Battle, S, Alabama
Longtime starter Devin McCourty retired this offseason, and the team needs to find his replacement. Alabama’s Jordan Battle was a third-team All-American last year and shows the physical style of play Bill Belichick loves in his safeties.

Round 4, Pick 117: Eli Ricks, CB, Alabama
The Patriots snag another Alabama defensive back with this pick. Ricks is a big cornerback who, despite having a disappointing 2022 season, has the upside to develop into an NFL starter.

Round 4, Pick 135: Chase Brown, RB, Illinois
The team lost their second-leading rusher Damien Harris, so they will likely look to add a replacement somewhere in the 2023 NFL Draft. Illinois’ Chase Brown had a terrific year last season and runs with a good combination of power and patience.

Round 6, Pick 184: Will Mallory, TE, Miami
The team is set at tight end this season with Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki. However, both of these players are only signed through this season. Mallory is an athletic tight end who has the speed to stretch an NFL defense.

Round 6, Pick 187: Andrei Iosivas, WR, Princton
The Patriots add another wide receiver in the 2023 NFL Draft after drafting Xavier Hutchinson in the third round. Andrei Iosivas is an interesting developmental prospect possing the size (6-3) and speed (4.43 40-yard dash) to develop into a high-quality receiver.

Round 6, Pick 210: Bumper Pool, OLB, Arkansas
New England adds one of the most underrated players in the 2023 NFL Draft with this pick. At the very worst expect Pool to make an impact on special teams.

Round 7, Pick 245: Bryce Baringer, P, Michigan State
The only punter currently on the Patriots roster is Corliss Waitman, so look for them to add some competition for him late in the 2023 NFL Draft. Last season, Baringer led the NCAA with a 49-yard average and also placed 22 punts inside the 20-yard line.

Bumper Pool Scouting Report

Bumper Pool is one of the most productive linebackers in the 2023 NFL, and his eye-popping production started to catch people’s attention ever since he was a sophomore in high school. Pool, who played his high school football at Lovejoy High School in Lucas, Texas, recorded 148 tackles and 18 tackles for loss as a sophomore in 2015. He followed that up with two more impressive seasons where he recorded over 110 tackles each season, including 166 as a senior. This production earned him a four-star rating by 247Sports.

When it came to choosing a college Pool decided to attend Arkansas over schools like Alabama, Texas A&M, USC, and others. As a freshman, he was able to start four games and played a key role on special teams for the Razorbacks. As a sophomore, he started all 12 games for Arkansas and finished second on the team in tackles with 94.

He had his breakout season in 2020 though, being named to the All-SEC team for the first time in his career. This season he was named All-SEC second team after recording 101 tackles in just nine games which was enough to place him second in the SEC in tackles per game. He followed that up with an even more productive 2021 season. That season he led Arkansas in tackles with 125 stops and again was named to the All-SEC second team.

While hopes were high for Pool going into the 2022 season, he didn’t have the type of year he was hoping for. The main reason for this was that he battled injuries most of the year. One of these injuries was a hip injury that caused him to miss the last two games of the year. Despite being banged up most of the year he was still able to become Arkansas’s all-time leading tackler registering 92 tackles on the year which gave him a career total of 441 tackles.

The injuries that hampered Pool’s senior season have also hurt him in the predraft process. The fact he had off-season surgery cost him any chance to play in any all-star games and also prevented him from working out at the Arkansas Pro Day. His disappointing senior season also likely cost him an invitation to the NFL Combine.

Despite not being invited to the NFL Combine, I still have an early day three grade on Pool for several reasons. One of the reasons for this is his elite production. He shows the skillset to continue producing in the NFL as well. He shows good range especially against the run, showing the ability to make tackles from sideline to sideline. His nonstop motor also helps him rack up his impressive tackle numbers. In addition to these two traits, another thing that helps him is his impressive football IQ, which rarely gets him out of position.

While there are certainly plenty of positives with Pool’s game there are also some concerns. The first one of these is that he has battled injuries most of his college career, and these injuries also prevented him from working out prior to the NFL Draft. Another concern is his ability to hold up in pass coverage. While he can hold up in zone coverage, he will have trouble if forced to cover one-on-one. One more concern is his lack of power as a tackler, which causes him to miss tackles at times.

When looking at where Bumper Pool fits in at the NFL level, one team that could make sense for him is the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers have already brought him in for a visit and it would not be a surprise if they used their fifth-round pick on him. Another team that makes sense is the New England Patriots, who have eight day three picks and need to add depth to their linebacker unit. No matter where Pool goes in the 2023 NFL Draft, expect him to be a core special teams player as a rookie, and he could even compete for a starting linebacker job if he goes to the right team.

Top Five Cornerbacks in the 2023 NFL Draft

Christian Gonzalez, Oregon
Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez leads a strong 2023 NFL Draft cornerback class. What stands out about him is his elite athletic ability. He has extremely loose hips which allow him to easily run with wide receivers in coverage. He also has the speed to stick with even the quickest receivers in the NFL running the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds. In addition to those two traits he also has the length NFL coaches crave.

Devon Witherspoon, Illinois
A player who had a breakout season this year is Illinois’ Devon Witherspoon. After being named to the All-Big Ten honorable mention last season, he established himself as the top cornerback in the conference this season earning the Big Ten’s Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year award. What stands out with Witherspoon is his physical style of play. He does a great job of challenging receivers both at the catch point and line of scrimmage. In addition, to showing the competitiveness in coverage he is also a strong defender vs. the run who is not afraid to lay the big hit on the ball carrier.

Deonte Banks, Maryland
Maryland’s Deonte Banks may have the most potential of any cornerback in the 2023 NFL Draft. Coming in at 6-foot and 197 pounds he shows the fluid hips to hang with even the most athletic corners. He also has the speed to match up with deep threats having run the 40-yard dash in 4.35 seconds. In order to live up to this potential though he is going to have to improve his instincts especially when his back is to the ball.

Kelee Ringo, Georgia
One of the most impressive athletes in this year’s class is Kelee Ringo of Georgia. Coming in at 6-foot-2 and 207 pounds he has the size to match up against the bigger receivers in the draft. He also has blazing speed running the 40-yard dash in 4.36 seconds. The biggest concern is his lack of pattern recognition and ability to quickly break on the ball.

Joey Porter Jr., Penn State
Teams that like to press their corners are going to love what they find in Joey Porter Jr. What makes Porter stand out in this area is how physical he is at the line of scrimmage and how well he can reroute receiver. On the downside, though he does have some trouble with quicker receivers due to his average speed and quickness.

NFL Draft Scouting Notes

— A player who might be best off moving to safety is Iowa’s, Riley Moss. This is due to his lack of explosion when it comes to getting in and out of his breaks. In addition, to this he also only has average mobility in his hips which can allow wide receivers to gain separation at the top of their routes. However, he may have the skill set to make it as a free safety. His top trait in this area is his high football IQ. He shows excellent awareness on the field which has helped him come away with five interceptions over the previous two years and 12 pass breakups this season. He also is a leader on the field who should be able to handle all of the coverage calls. One more reason he is a natural fit is his physical style of play. He is a defensive back who is not afraid to come down and support the run and should be able to play in the box if needed.

— A mid-round cornerback who is getting his share of attention is Tyrique Stevenson of Miami. Stevenson is a big corner coming in at 6 foot and 198 pounds and has the tools to be a good press corner. In this area, he is physical at the line of scrimmage and also displays the footwork to fit in this role. He also does a good job contesting catches forcing wide receivers to fight through him to make the catch. A few of the teams who have already shown a strong interest in him include the Dallas Cowboys, Baltimore Ravens, and Pittsburgh Steelers.

— Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker is getting a lot of talk as a late first-round pick, and one landing spot for him could be the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens have the 22nd pick in the 2023 NFL Draft and could be looking for a quarterback if they decide to move on from Lamar Jackson. Hooker would be a good fit in new offensive coordinator Todd Monken’s system. Monken loves to throw the ball downfield off of play action which is something Hooker is probably more suited for than Jackson is. While Jackson is easily the better player Hooker is a lot cheaper. plus the team should be able to get a couple of first round picks for Jackson which will allow the team to add some more playmakers on offense.

—One of the most underrated players in the 2023 NFL Draft is Keion White, and it seems like he is getting plenty of NFL interest. According to Justin Melo of the Draft Network, White is scheduled to visit the Tennessee Titans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts, Minnesota Vikings, and New York Giants. This should not come as a surprise though as the 6-foot-5 285-pound defensive end who runs a 4.79 40-yard dash recorded 7.5 sacks last season.

— Purdue’s Cory Trice could be a sleeper in this year’s cornerback class. Trice is a bigger corner coming in at 6-foot-3 and 206 pounds. This size and his strength allows him to be one of the better press corners in the 2023 NFL Draft. He also moves well for a bigger corner showing the agility to easily get out of his breaks and has enough speed to play in a cover two scheme. A couple of teams who could make sense for Trice are the San Fransico 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks.

Quote of the Week

“He can’t change direction well but he’s strong and physical, so you put him in press and let him play in the receiver’s pocket all game.”

– Area scout for AFC team to on Penn State corner Joey Porter Jr.