Whichever direction the Patriots choose to go with the No. 14 overall pick (assuming they remain there), this team needs to hit on an immediate starter that can come in and elevate the roster.
Much of the focus with that pick has been on drafting an offensive tackle, which went from a decent position group in 2021 to a weakness in 2022.
New England could have three good options to choose from at that spot: Paris Johnson Jr., Broderick Jones and Peter Skoronski. While the first two might have more upside, The 33rd Team’s latest mock draft has Bill Belichick’s squad honing in on Northwestern’s Skoronski at No. 14 overall.
Why? Because he might be the most NFL-ready tackle prospect in the upcoming draft.
“Big, thick and strong, Peter Skoronski looks the part of an NFL offensive lineman,” reads The 33rd Team’s scouting report. “He is productive and demonstrates toughness as a finisher.
"Skoronski is not a top-level athlete but he plays well and can get movement going to handle defenders when needed. Demonstrates an ability to drive people off the ball and creates a new line of scrimmage. Very patient and instinctive at the same time which saves him from over-committing and losing reps.”
In particular, the mock draft’s reasoning for the Skoronski pick states New England will “love his toughness” in the run game while also touting his solid pass protection as a potential puzzle piece for getting quarterback Mac Jones back on track in 2023.
The Northwestern junior allowed just one sack and seven pressures last year on 459 pass-blocking snaps. Additionally, he committed just one hold in three years as a college starter and never got flagged for a false start, which would be welcome for a penalty-plagued Patriots offense.
He also has better feet than you might expect for such a stocky lineman in pass protection, allowing him generally to set the terms of his battles with edge rushers.
Of course, the biggest knock on Skoronski is his short arms, which rumored to be a touch over 32 inches long (very below-average for a tackle). He also isn’t an extremely fluid mover in space, typically relying on initial quickness, brute strength and technique to win. The latter of those attributes could still use some honing in the NFL as his hands wander outside to defenders’ shoulders, which could lead to more holding calls in the pros. Though he can stand up well against bull rushers, elite edges with a full arsenal of moves and better quickness could prove tougher for Skoronski to handle.
That’s why some see Skoronski more as a guard at the next level than a tackle, which could drop him down draft boards. If New England saw him as a guard, there’s no way they could afford to take him at No. 14 overall, especially not after having already grabbed a guard last year in Cole Strange. Also, the residual bad taste from Isaiah Wynn – another tweener prospect who perhaps should’ve played guard and was only average as a tackle at best – might keep the Patriots away.
But there’s also a chance Skoronski could fit well as a road-grating right tackle in New England’s offense, paving the way alongside Michael Onwenu for Rhamondre Stevenson on the right side. If nothing else, last year proved you can never have enough capable depth on the outside, especially guys who can play either tackle spot.
All in all, Skoronski profiles as “a steady player that will start and play for a long time,” even if at more of a solid than elite level.
That doesn’t sound like the kind of big swing people might want with a first-round, but it would be a win, especially at No. 14.
He’ll probably be a Week 1 starter wherever he ends up, whether he plays at guard or tackle. If he can convince the Patriots he can play on the outside, he might not make it past pick No. 14.