The New England Patriots were among the most active teams in the 2023 NFL Draft. With first-round selection Christian Gonzalez leading the way, they added 12 total players.
Expectations that the rookie dozen will come in and have an impact one way or another are naturally high, starting with the very top of the organization. Appearing on NFL Network last week, Patriots owner Robert Kraft spoke highly of his team’s haul on draft weekend.
“At the end of draft day, my eldest son Jonathan and I were chatting, and I said, ‘This was a great, great draft. I’m really optimistic about the team,’” Kraft said. “He said, ‘Dad, you say that every year.’ But I really believe it. We were able to get the top seven picks that we had identified before the draft. I think it gives us a good balance of what our needs are. I think our free agent pickups and getting Bill O’Brien in will make a big difference.”
Kraft obviously is biased in his assessment; he owns the team. That said, he has worn his heart on his sleeve when it comes to the Patriots’ draft day success in the past.
During the 2021 offseason, for example, Kraft lamented that his club has had a string of unsatisfying drafts.
“If you want to have a good, consistent, winning football team, you can’t do it in free agency. You have to do it through the draft,” Kraft said at the time. “That’s when you’re able to get people of great talent — whether it’s Willie McGinest or Tom Brady — you get them at a price where you can build a team and be competitive. Once they get to their first contract, if they’re superstars, you can only balance so many of them.
“So really, the teams who draft well are the ones who will be consistently good. I don’t feel we’ve done the greatest job the last few years, and I really hope — and I believe — I’ve seen a different approach this year.”
The Patriots ended up drafting potential future cornerstones Mac Jones, Christian Barmore and Rhamondre Stevenson that year. Kraft was a fan of the haul back then, and he is again in 2023.
At the end of the day, however, the result on the field will determine whether or not New England’s latest draft has indeed been a successful one.