Four slots lied ahead for the New England Patriots in the fourth round of the 2023 NFL draft.
The cluster of capital would be used by head coach Bill Belichick and director of player personnel Matt Groh to select three prospects in that range. But what the war room inside Gillette Stadium was looking for varied as Saturday got underway.
Here’s a quick-hit glance into what each arrival brings to New England.
No. 107: Experienced insurance at three spots in Jake Andrews, C, Troy
New England went all defense for the first three rounds of the draft. But the organization then added experience to the interior offensive line in the third round. At all three spots.
Troy’s Jake Andrews made 23 starts at right guard, transitioned for 15 starts at center and played in 52 career games. His coach as a Trojans redshirt senior was former Patriots co-offensive line coach Cole Popovich. A 2022 All-Sun Belt first-team selection and a call to the Reese’s Senior Bowl followed in ironman fashion last fall. The 6-foot-3, 305-pound Alabama native handled 914 of 917 snaps and finished his tenure with 2,796.
Spelling at left guard over that span, as well, a James Ferentz role is the projection as a rookie. The 23-year-old will have a familiar last name to learn under at the pivot in David Andrews. The Patriots captain and All-Decade selection turns 31 in July.
No. 112: Nick Folk’s successor in Chad Ryland, K, Maryland
In an AFC East exchange, the Patriots sent the rights to No. 120 in the fourth round and No. 184 in the sixth round to the New York Jets. And for the rights to take a kicker even higher than franchise all-time points leader Stephen Gostkowski back in 2006.
Chad Ryland walked on at Eastern Michigan and earned a scholarship entering his junior year. The two-time second-team All-MAC pick went on to become the program’s career leader with 309 points scored and 141 extra points made while ranking second with 56 field goals made. He transferred to Maryland for his final season, earning a second-team All-Big Ten selection to go with invites to Mobile and the NFL Scouting Combine. While turning in a 70 percent touchback rate as the kickoff specialist for the Terrapins, the 6-foot, 190-pound Ryland went 19-for-23 on field goals and 3-for-6 from beyond 50 yards.
In Foxborough, he now accompanies the 38-year-old Nick Folk. The veteran incumbent has no guaranteed salary and a $2.785 million cap number in a contact year.
No. 117: Big traits in Sidy Sow, G, Eastern Michigan
The Patriots found an athletic profile to build from at No. 117, taking another player with Eastern Michigan ties in guard Sidy Sow.
Appearing in 57 games with 55 starts for the Eagles, Sow spent the bulk of his stay at left guard after seeing the field early on at left tackle. The sixth-year senior went from third-team All-MAC recognition to consecutive first-team All-MAC selections. He then tested among the highest tier of offensive linemen in Indianapolis at 6-foot-5, 323 pounds. At that size, Sow ran the 40-yard dash in 5.07 seconds, the three-cone drill in 7.62 seconds and the 20-yard shuttle in 4.69 seconds. He added a 32-inch vertical along with a 9-foot-2 broad jump for a relative athletic score of 9.93.
New England’s next pick, No. 135, then changed hands with the Las Vegas Raiders as the fifth round opened.