The Patriots will have no shortage of options when they finally get on the clock during the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft.
The Patriots will pick 14th overall on April 27 in Kansas City, and a talented offensive lineman or wide receiver should be available for Bill Belichick and his staff.
Given how often Mac Jones was under pressure last season, it’s not a surprise that oddsmakers are tabbing the tackle position as New England’s top draft priority this spring.
Bookies.com listed the odds for the Patriots’ first-round selection, and the first four options are all offensive tackles.
Ohio State’s Paris Johnson Jr. leads the pack with +350 odds (22.22 percent implied probability), followed close behind by Georgia’s Broderick Jones (+400, 20 percent).
“Ohio State’s Paris Johnson has the size and quickness that coach Bill Belichick has preferred at the position,” Bookies.com’s Adam Thompson said. “There’s more potential in Johnson, but it may take longer to realize it than some of the other top OT prospects.”
Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski (+500, 16.67 percent) and Tennessee’s Darnell Wright (+600, 14.29 percent) round out the top-four options.
Skoronski’s measurements during the NFL Scouting Combine (specifically his arm length) raised concerns that he’s better suited as a guard at the next level.
But Skoronski’s impressive body of work in the collegiate ranks (20 pressures last season on 416 pass-blocking snaps) could lead to him getting snagged as a top-10 pick next month.
Given the run on premium free-agent tackles Monday, the draft might be the best avenue for New England if it wants to add more security for Jones’ blind side.
Even though top tackles like Orlando Brown Jr. remain on the market, multiple other Patriots targets like Jawaan Taylor (four years, $80 million contract with Kansas City) and Mike McGlinchey (five years, $87.5 million with Denver) have already found new homes.
If the Patriots don’t hone in on the O-line, Bookies.com has three wide receivers listed with the next-best odds for New England.
USC’s Jordan Addison sits at +600 odds (14.29 percent), while Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba (+700, 12.5 percent) and TCU’s Quentin Johnston (+1200, 7.69 percent) round out the list.
Given the uncertainty of Jakobi Meyers’ future on the free-agent market, the Patriots may need to find another top target for Jones before camp opens this summer.
Smith-Njigba’s performance during the Scouting Combine helped raise his draft stock, as the former Buckeye looks like a versatile weapon out of the slot. Johnston’s straight-line speed and 6-foot-4 frame make him a potential deep-threat weapon in the right offense.
The Patriots have multiple vacancies across their depth chart that must be addressed this offseason. But if New England is able to secure a blue-chip prospect like Johnson or Smith-Njigba, they could have a promising building block to work with moving forward.
Stay up to date on all the latest news from Boston.com