Patriots

Patriots select Penn State star in ESPN expert Matt Miller's new mock draft

Patriots

The New England Patriots are in an interesting spot entering the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft.

They own the No. 14 overall pick -- their highest since 2008 -- and have a bunch of different roster needs. Offensive tackle and wide receiver are two of the most glaring roster weaknesses, and those two positions have been popular in recent mock drafts, including projections from Pro Football Focus and NBC Sports Boston's Phil Perry

But don't forget about the defensive side of the ball.

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ESPN expert Matt Miller released his new 2023 NFL Mock Draft on Monday, and he projects the Patriots to take Penn State cornerback Joey Porter Jr. in the first round.

From Miller:

"Major upgrades are needed across the board, and for the first time in a very long time, New England can truly select the best prospect available. That's Porter on my board, the son of former Steelers great Joey Porter. The younger Porter has his father's tough demeanor on the field but is a silky smooth mover in space and has awesome length at 6-2 and 200 pounds. He grabbed just one interception in college but had 11 pass breakups, as Big Ten quarterbacks largely ignored his side of the field. With his physical play, instincts and length, Porter feels like a perfect fit in New England."

 

Porter, who is 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, tallied 27 tackles with 11 passes defensed and one fumble recovery in 10 games for the Nittany Lions last season. He also did not allow a touchdown during 275 coverage snaps in 2022. Penn State has never had a defensive back selected in Round 1, and Porter could be the first.

The Patriots need to bolster their talent and depth at the cornerback position before next season.

Over the last two years, they've lost two No. 1 cornerbacks in Stephon Gilmore and J.C. Jackson, and they could lose Jonathan Jones to free agency this offseason. A shutdown cornerback is essential in today's pass-happy NFL, and New England lacks that kind of playmaker in the secondary.