Poll: Ranking the Patriots skill positions 2023 offense
Last Friday, I took it upon myself to break down the AFC by QB, RB, WR and TE rankings to see how the Patriots playmakers stack up against the competition heading into the 2023 season.
Here are the results:
- QB, Mac Jones: 11th-best in AFC. Nobody was higher on Mac entering Year 2 than yours truly, and those hopes got dashed rather quickly. Of course, it wasn't all Mac's fault as he was put in a truly putrid situation with Matt Patricia calling the shots. But that doesn't excuse the temper tantrums, or the fact that Bailey Zappe's production was arguably better than Mac's while on the field, granted in a smaller sample size. It's put up or shut up time for Jones, who I sandwich between Jimmy G (No. 10) and Russell Wilson (No. 12) in the AFC rankings. Though, by year's end I expect Mac to be better than the aging pair.
- RB, Rhamondre Stevenson: 5th-best in AFC. I promise, this was not a biased selection. Stevenson was the team's entire offense last year, breaking long runs out of the backfield and leading the team with 69 receptions. Is he as gifted a runner as say Derrick Henry, Josh Jacobs, Nick Chubb or Joe Mixon? No. But he ranks right up there with Austin Ekeler, Najee Harris and Travis Etienne as the best combo backs in the conference. And in today's game, that's more important.
- WR, Juju Smith-Schuster, DeVante Parker and Kendrick Bourne: 9th-best in AFC. For the WR rankings, I focused on each team's top three options at the position. While there's no true No. 1 in the Pats' receivers room, I wouldn't go as far as to describe the bunch as "stink, stank and stunk," like Mike Giardi of The Boston Sports Journal did a few weeks back. Juju was the top option at the position for the Super Bowl winning Chiefs, Parker showed flashes when he could stay on the field last year - no given in '23 - and Bourne was the team's best receiver two years ago before Patricia alienated him from the unit last season. While I don't expect gaudy numbers from any of the three, they should provide consistent production across the board.
- TE, Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki: 4th-best in AFC: Travis Kelce is the unquestioned No. 1 at the position in the AFC. Mark Andrews has a lock on No. 2 and the combo of Dawson Knox and Dalton Kinkaid won't be fun for opposing defenses with Josh Allen slinging it to the duo. After that, find me a better setup than Henry and Gesicki in the conference. Henry was held quiet for most of last year, but again, it was getting schemed up by a freaking defensive minded rocket scientist. Gesicki is someone who always killed the Pats with his length, and the pair shooting up the seams should provide a much needed new/old feel to the offense's attack.
That's where I had the skill positions ranked in the AFC. Now, you tell us where you think they stack up league-wide.