5 players the Patriots might draft after the first round

With so much focus on early picks, here's a preview of some players New England could select after the first round.

Nathaniel "Tank" Dell NFL Draft Patriots
Nathaniel "Tank" Dell during the NFL rookie scouting combine in March. AP Photo/Michael Conroy

One of the common issues with NFL Draft coverage is generally revealed after the first 15 picks are made each year. For all of the attention paid to position rankings and mock drafts, an overwhelming majority of the focus is devoted almost exclusively to the top few picks.

Beyond that — especially beyond the first round — a comparatively small amount of time is put into featuring additional prospects or predicting what teams might do, even if picks on days two and three of the draft inevitably carry enormous importance for each franchise.

Regarding Patriots mock drafts, there has actually been some level of examining non first-round picks, perhaps given Bill Belichick’s ability to find impact players from late round picks (or undrafted players).


With that in mind, here’s a look at a few players who have been projected to be Patriots draft picks following day one of the event:

Julius Brents, cornerback: While Belichick’s defense was able to play at a surprisingly high level in 2022 even after the departure of J.C. Jackson, one draft priority could be adding more help at cornerback.

Brents, who recorded four interceptions in his senior season at Kansas State, is unique given his size and quickness. Standing at 6-foot-3 and having run the fastest 3-cone drill time of any cornerback at this year’s rookie combine (6.63), Brents could have high upside, and also performed well at the Senior Bowl:

NBC Sports Boston’s Phil Perry has the Patriots picking him in the second round, while Tyler Sullivan of CBS Sports has Brents as a third-round pick.

Tucker Kraft, tight end: Though the Patriots added Mike Gesicki in free agency, a tight end selection could still be in the cards, especially given the estimated depth of the position in this year’s draft.

Standing at 6-foot-5, 254 pounds, Kraft has the size and strength to handle the blocking responsibilities. He also runs a 4.69-second 40-yard dash, recording a 7.08 in the three-cone drill (meaning that he also has the speed and quickness).


Kraft is seen as a possible third-round pick by both Perry and Andrew Callahan of the Boston Herald.

Tyler Steen, offensive tackle: Whether or not he’s still around for the Patriots in the second round remains to be seen, but Steen could help New England reestablish its passing protection around Mac Jones in 2023.

“He’s a vertical pass-setter who plays with good awareness to twists and blitzes,” noted draft analyst Lance Zierlein.

Nathaniel “Tank” Dell, wide receiver: A wide receiver that can create separation from coverage was arguably a Patriots need even before Jakobi Meyers left in free agency.

As ESPN’s Mike Reiss pointed out, Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy likes Dell as a possible New England pickup.

“I think he’s going to be a productive slot, the type of guy who will outplay where he gets drafted,” Nagy explained.

Michael Turk, punter: The Patriots have need of a punter given the team’s decision to cut Jake Bailey in March. Turk played for Oklahoma in the last two years of his college eligibility, and is seen as having a powerful leg but occasionally lacking in placement. In 2021, the Sooner boomed an average of 51.2 yards per punt. He achieved 46.8 yards per punt in 2022.


Callahan projects him as a sixth-round pick, while Pats Pulpit’s Pat Lane thinks the Patriots will be more aggressive and pick him in the fourth round.


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