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#PostPulpit Mailbag: Should the 14th overall pick be used to trade for a veteran wide receiver?

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By: Brian M. Hines

Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

You asked, Brian Hines answered.

With Super Bowl 57 in the books, we are officially in the offseason. The NFL Combine is next on the calendar and then the Patriots will get their first start in remodeling their roster as free agency begins in just under a month.

For now, let’s empty out this week’s #PostPulpit mailbag.

@TimSweeney4 They have traded a first for a reciever before , do you think they will do so again ?

I have no idea if they will, but they absolutely should use the 14th overall pick as ammunition to acquire a top veteran wide receiver. Who that could be? Also no idea, but someone always becomes available. Nobody thought Tyreek Hill would be dealt at this point last year. So, when that guy becomes available go get him with that first-round selection and fill in offensive tackle and cornerback needs on Day Two of the draft.

In today’s NFL, wide receiver is the second most valuable position on rosters besides the QB. Look at the team’s in the conference championship games and their No. 1 (some teams even their No. 2) wide receivers – unless you’re the Chiefs who have Patrick Mahomes at quarterback, but even they have Travis Kelce.

New England needs that guy that opposing defenses have to game plan for. They no longer should spread out their resources to the position to build depth. Get the top dawg and there’s then plenty of options across the league to financially fill in the depth chart behind them. The Patriots already have some strong options there in DeVante Parker, Kendrick Bourne, and hopefully Tyquan Thornton. With their track record of drafting receivers, add a proven veteran on top of that and use the 14th overall selection if needed (and don’t just trade him after one year like they did with Brandin Cooks).

That process hasn’t been Bill Belichick’s philosophy in his Patriots tenure, but it’s time for that to change. Welcome to 2023 where elite passing attacks win.

@DavNazRuiz Do we resign Jakobi or let him walk and try to purse a big time wr in trade or FA?

So, where does Jakobi Meyers fit into the wide receiver puzzle? Personally, I expect him to price himself out of New England. Pro Football Focus projects Meyers to land a four-year deal that earns him $16 annually, which he should absolute secure on the open market. You might not think he deserves that, but he’s the top available receiver and all it takes is one team (hello, Christian Kirk and the Jacksonville Jaguars).

On the other hand, if Meyers comes in around $10-12 million annually, that would be the range I feel comfortable matching. But again, that would have to be WR2 money as the Patriots still go out and acquire a guy to slot in ahead of him on the depth chart. Still, New England could benefit from somebody who gives them more after the catch at this spot in their offense.

@robersatil Dream WR for 2023?

Tee Higgins is near the top of the list, but I think trading for Denver’s Jerry Jeudy is the most realistic option and would be a strong move for the Patriots. He’d be a great fit in Bill O’Brien’s offense and has a relationship with Mac Jones. Denver should also be in the market for draft picks after the Russell Wilson and Sean Payton trades, so perhaps No. 46 overall could get that done.

While I’d prefer to go for the veteran route, a few receivers have caught my eye in the draft. Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba and USC’s Jordan Addison are perhaps the two best fits for New England. I’m also a big fan of the playmaking ability and potential of LSU’s Kayshon Boutte. A little Deebo Samuel in his game and he could be sitting there at No. 46.

@shorty14087 OT OR WR FIRST ROUND

@FJB_FOF Do you see WR or CB as a bigger priority in the draft over OT?

Offensive tackle is the biggest need for the Patriots currently. They currently have just Trent Brown and last year’s seventh-round pick Andrew Stueber, who spent the Reserve/Non-Football Injury, under contract. Plus, cutting Brown would free up $7.25 million so he is no roster lock.

If they keep the pick, I would take whichever one of the consensus top three offensive tackle falls to No. 14 (hoping one does). There are plenty of Z/slot-receivers and lengthy cornerbacks they can then choose from on Day Two.

@techno_viking87 Good FA target? Trade?

We talked a lot about receivers that fit these requirements, so let’s pivot a bit. Sticking at offensive tackle, Mike McGlinchey may be the top available tackle on the market if the Chiefs franchise tag Orlando Brown Jr. He’d be pricey, but he’d give New England an immediate starter at right tackle at 28 years old.

From there, safety Jessie Bates III and linebacker Tremaine Edmunds are some intriguing names at the top of the defensive market. Both would fill holes in New England’s defense (Bates assuming Devin McCourty retires).

@SugaRicky Which upcoming free agent(s) on the team should the pats do their best to retain?

The good thing about New England’s offseason is none of their free agents seem to fall in the “must re-sign” category. Bringing back Meyers, as discussed above, would be beneficial with the right additional moves. I would still like to see Jonathan Jones back due to his skillset, versatility, and leadership but he could price himself out of the equation as well.

Jabrill Peppers is a player I’d be interested in bringing back. His game continued to grow as the season progressed and he was a strong fit in the defense. To a lesser extent, Conor McDermott was solid down the stretch in a tough position. Bringing him back as a depth tackle would be a good move, and he has past experience with Adrian Klemm.

@Skywal1Thaddeus With Tae Hayes getting cut, could Shaun Wade be getting a chance? We have seen guys like Uche not break out until their 3rd year

I’m not expecting anything out of Shaun Wade after he was a healthy inactive for the Week 17 Dolphins game in favor of newly signed Tae Hayes and practice squader Quandre Mosely. We’ll see if he sticks around until training camp, but perhaps a move to safety would be in his best interests.

@ForbesSumner Should they work on an extension for Onwenu this offseason? Seems to me that if he hits UFA he could be in the market for a sizable contract.

He should be in for a sizable contract whenever and wherever negotiations begin. Onwenu has been rock solid throughout his career no matter where he aligns, although New England clearly prefers him at right guard.

I have my reservations about paying guards big contracts, but they should touch base with him this offseason to get an idea about a potential extension.

@JohnMcKennedy1 Looking at Phil Perry’s mock draft it looks like he’s implying Cole Strange no longer fits our scheme? Thoughts?

I believe this is the part of Phil’s mock you are referring too:

He’s a much different-looking kind of player than Strange, who was brought in to help run the zone schemes the Patriots wanted to lean on last year. But if they go back to more of a gap system in 2023, New England’s second Horned Frog in three picks — they’ve never been afraid of doubling up from one school before, and they’ll do it again later in this mock — would be an ideal fit.

Looking back, adding the athletic Strange seemed to be playing into the Patriots hands of becoming a more zone-based rushing attack. But, New England ended up using more of their old gap-scheme anyways. Strange can play in both but he definitely needs to spend his offseason in the weight room to add more strength and power. Get him on the Joe Thuney plan.

@EJS_NEPatriot Quarterbacks Coach in 2023 (in addition to B.O’B/OC)?

While Bill O’Brien was named offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, I would still like an assistant QB coach to always be on Mac Jones’ hip. Think Bo Hardegree in Mac’s rookie season. If they don’t go external for that, it seems like Evan Rothstein is a potential option there after being an offensive assistant last season.

Another choice could be Ross Douglas, who seems to be an up-and-coming coach. He handled offensive coordinator and quarterbacks at the East-West Shrine Bowl

@JBoss_ How does Cam Achord still have a job on this team?

After always being an above-average special teams unit, things have taken a turn the past two years with Cam Achord in charge. Last year, the unit had a negative DVOA for the first time since 1995. It was much worse this year as they finished last in the league in special teams DVOA.

It’s tough to look at those numbers and wonder why there was no change, but the team clearly likes Achord or have a plan to help turn things around. Perhaps with Bill O’Brien handling the offense, Belichick himself can assist more in this area. We are also still waiting for clarity on Joe Judge’s role next season, who had success as the team’s special teams coordinator in years past.

That’s all for this week’s #PostPulpit mailbag. If you have questions you’d liked to be answered next week, submit them on Twitter using #PostPulpit! Make sure to be following @iambrianhines and @PatsPulpit as well!

Originally posted on Pats Pulpit