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Getting to know the top offensive tackles in 2023 NFL Draft

Sports Final: Changes coming to Patriots coaching staff; are Mac and Bill cool with each other?
Sports Final: Changes coming to Patriots coaching staff; are Mac and Bill cool with each other? 08:31

BOSTON -- The Patriots have some moves to make on their coaching staff. After that, it'll be full steam ahead for the NFL Draft.

And for the front office, headed by director of player personnel Matt Groh, those efforts have been ongoing for months. After learning they'll have the 14th overall pick in the first round, though, their focus has likely been narrowing over the past week-plus while developing some level of plan for late April.

That plan will, of course, be kept close to the vest. But it seems reasonable to believe that the Patriots will be interested in an offensive tackle or two in this year's draft.

Trent Brown switched back to left tackle in 2022, and it didn't go all that well. He was good but not great, and he was one of the most penalized players in the entire NFL. Brown drew 13 penalty flags in 2022, including five false starts and six holding penalties.

On the other side was Isaiah Wynn, who flipped to right tackle. He performed poorly, earning a 54.6 PFF grade, while also committing nine penalties (five holding, three false start, one illegal formation).

Brown is signed for next season. Wynn is not. The only question is whether the Patriots will be in the market for one tackle, or two tackles.

Whatever the case may be, it's about that time to get accustomed to the best tackles available in the draft. The Patriots could move up to get a player they really like, they could sit tight at 14th and take whichever player might be there, or they could get risky and trade down if they like a player who may not be so high on everyone else's draft boards.

Whatever the case, it does feel like a safe bet to expect them to take one of consensus best tackles. (OK, they could always go off the board with a lineman from Chattanooga, but that probably won't happen two years in a row.) So here's a look at some of the highest-regarded players at the position.

Topping just about every list out there is Northwestern's Peter Skoronski. The 6-foot-4, 315-pound Skoronski was a captain for the Wildcats last year. He may not have the size of a prototypical tackle, but he's considered a day one starter for whichever team drafts him -- likely in the top 10. Skoronski's profile was probably boosted by his predecessor, Rashawn Slater, going 13th overall to the Chargers in 2021.

Next on most lists is Paris Johnson of Ohio State. At 6-foot-6 and 310 pounds, Johnson fits the mold of a typical NFL tackle, and he switched from guard to tackle last season. Evaluators may see some room to grow, but after one season at tackle at the highest collegiate level, the outlook is promising.

Catching some attention on a national title run was Broderick Jones of Georgia. A little on the shorter side, Jones may be a guard/tackle tweener type -- which, considering his school, may give Patriots fans some pause. But PFF's Mike Renner said that Jones is "the most impressive tackle in the class" while adding this detail: "He's built like a slab of granite with very low body fat for a 300-plus-pound tackle." (Can the Patriots fit another Jones on the roster, though? There may be rules about such things.)

PFF also likes Anton Harrison out of Oklahoma. Whereas Broderick Jones may be more of a run blocker, Harrison is more of a pass blocker. And at 6-foot-5, 315 pounds, he's clearly got NFL size.

In terms of AP All-American selections, the First Team included Skoronski and sophomore Joe Alt, who's not draft eligible. The Second team included Paris Johnson and fellow Buckeye Dawand Jones. At 6-foot-8, 359 pounds, Jones is certainly of the Trent Brown type of build, though it's unclear how well he'll be able to transition to the next level. (To harp on the name thing again, after already having Mac Jones and Jonathan Jones, the Patriots drafted two Joneses last year. Perhaps they'll do the same this year?)

BYU's Blake Freeland also shows up on most top draft-eligible tackle lists, and his 6-foot-8, 305-pound frame is sure to land him on every tackle-needy team's draft board. He started all 13 games last year and the year before, earning Third Team All-American honors in 2022.

North Dakota State's Cody Mauch, Tennessee's Darnell Wright, USC's Jonah Monheim, and Syracuse's Matthew Bergeron round out PFF's top 10 list. Alabama's Tyler Steen, Maryland's Jaelyn Duncan, Ole Miss' Nick Broeker, Michigan's Ryan Hayes, Washington's Jaxon Kirkland, and Oklahoma's Wanya Morris fill out the Walter Football top 10, which featured a very different mix from the PFF list. On the Draft Wire's top 10, Penn State's Olumuyiwa Fashanu topped the list.

After the first-round pick at No. 14, the Patriots have picks at 46th overall in the second round, 76th in the third round, 104th and 114th in the fourth round, and 170th, 173rd, and 178th in the sixth round. As always, the Patriots' plans will be a mystery until their selections are announced. But when it does come time to make those picks, it's a safe bet to expect one or two of these names to be announced.

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