Add Robert Kraft to the list of those bullish on the 2023 Patriots.
Following an event held at Gillette Stadium on Thursday afternoon, New England's owner spoke to ESPN’s Mike Reiss about the outlook he has on his football team heading into this season:
“Excited to have football back. I liked our draft this year and I hope that translates on the field,” he said. “I’m really hopeful about this team.”
Though they've yet to play a down of actual NFL football, Kraft is right to be psyched about New England's 2023 draft class. They stole cornerback Christian Gonzalez at pick 17, grabbed a fringe-first round talent in DE Keion White at pick 46, and were able to buy low on two high-ceiling wide receivers in Kayshon Boutte and Demario Douglas in round six.
Oh, and they also landed NFL draft expert Daniel Jeremiah's "favorite player in the entire draft" in LB/S Marte Mapu at pick 76.
The shift to Matt Groh, New England's Director of Player Personnel, as the lead of draft operations over at One Patriot Place has been a godsend for New England. They've been able to bring in an abundance of talent over the last several seasons - something the owner seems thrilled about.
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Kraft did, however, feel it was necessary to mention the AFC East in his comments with Reiss, a division he annointed "the most difficult in the NFL."
He called the grouping of the Buffalo Bills, New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, and his Patriots "the best balance of teams. All of the other three are good so we’ll have our challenges.”
The Bills have won the division three years in a row, the Jets added Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, and the Dolphins (while I'm personally not too high on them) have an offensive wizard as their head coach along with two of the fastest players in the sport in Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle to match up against.
The Patriots will have their work cut out for them in 2023, but they seem to have turned over a new leaf from a season ago. Both the fanbase and the owner are ready to return to glory. Now it's up to the team to get them there.