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10 to Watch: 2024 Patriots Minicamp Edition

After four open OTA practices here’s what we’ll be watching for as the Patriots take the field for mandatory minicamp on Monday.


It's been an offseason of change for the Patriots. A new coach with an entirely new staff on offense and a third-overall pick upon whom the hopes and dreams for future contention rest. Free agency's focus centered on the Patriots own players, with the biggest splashes coming via multi-year new contracts for Michael Onwenu, Kyle Dugger and Christian Barmore.

Executive Vice President of Player Personnel Eliot Wolf preached a "draft, develop and retain" approach and backed it up with the new deals he gave out this spring.

Throughout one rookie minicamp and three open OTA practices, we've gotten some tantalizing glimpses of how it's all coming together. Rookie quarterback Drake Maye has shown flashes of the skills that made him the Pats' selection at third overall, while across the roster other rookies and younger players are finding new opportunities to carve out a role with the team.

Now, the Pats will close things out with three days of mandatory minicamp, an extension of the OTA sessions but with the expectation that the entire team will be in attendance to get a jump on training camp, scheduled to open at the end of July.

Here's our 10 to watch as the team puts a finishing touch on an offseason that has left us with a refreshed and reinforced Patriots team.

1. The Drake Show

Drake Maye's workload was closely monitored during four media-open practices this spring and the rookie showed notable progress, taking second-string reps in the most recent OTA practice. Maye's size, arm talent and athletic ability have shined through despite an uneven performance on June 4 that included two interceptions during team periods. Even still, Maye is off to a promising start, and his consistent post-practice work with Ja'Lynn Polk and Javon Baker offers an intriguing preview of what the next-generation Patriots offense might look like. Once again in minicamp the number of snaps and with whom he takes them with in any vaguely competitive team work will be the final check-in before a month-plus break until training camp. For his part, offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt said the team won't rush Maye. "I think of it as a marathon over a sprint. You don't just go out and run a marathon. You have to train properly and it's the same with a quarterback," said Van Pelt before the most recent OTA practice. "There's a process. And we follow that process. We trust that process. You can't just stick a guy out there and expect him to be successful without the proper training. It's a process and we are making moves in the right direction."

2. Offensive Line and Jacoby Brissett

The more immediate question is how does Van Pelt's offense look with presumptive starter Jacoby Brissett under center. Brissett looked comfortable in OTA practices and had some successful connections despite inconsistency during red zone and third-down work on June 4. The offensive line has to come together first before any quarterback will be able to successfully run the offense, because it was clearly a new-look group still finding their footing in OTAs and one that most recently missed projected starting tackles Michael Onwenu and Chuks Okorafor. Early OL struggles are not unheard of, often an aggressive defense that already knows what it's doing will make life difficult for an offense with new parts and a new playbook. Will there be adjustments to the offensive line from what we've seen in OTAs? Will Onwenu and Okorafor return? The Patriots did a lot to address their two other biggest holes this offseason at quarterback and receiver, but the questions along the OL and especially at tackle continue to hang over the offense.

Patriots WR Tyquan Thornton
Patriots WR Tyquan Thornton

3. Get Open and Catch the Ball

Over the spring the veterans have led the way in team drills, including Tyquan Thornton, who had a good spring, Juju Smith-Schuster, who says he's fully healthy, and DeMario Douglas, who looked quick and polished in OTAs. K.J. Osborn should be in the mix as well coming off his best performance of open OTAs on June 4. While everyone is itching to see the two rookies, Polk and Baker, could one or both start to see some more top-end competitive team reps? Baker appeared to have sustained an injury before the June 4 OTA, he spent the session rehabbing on the lower field. The less time the rookie misses the better for his development and chances to make any early contributions. If the protection can hold up all eyes will be on how well this group of receivers can get away from New England's talented secondary. Will the vets stake their claim on the starting jobs or can the rookies show their starting to make an early push?

4. Judon and the Edge Depth

Judon's absence from OTAs made it clear how thin the depth is for the Patriots at the edge position. But it gave opportunities to younger players like Oshane Ximines, Christian Elliss and Joe Giles-Harris. Their projected top three of Judon, Joshua Uche and Anfernee Jennings play complementary football and, as a whole, are a very solid group. But as 2023 proved, losing any of them could stretch the defense thin at a vital spot. If all three are present and accounted for at minicamp it will be a refreshing sign, but finding a fourth depth piece could be critical to the defensive depth this season. Ximines, who has 48 career games played and nine starts with the Giants, is one to keep an eye on. He had 4.5 sacks as rookie and has ideal size for playing the edge in New England.

5. Godchaux and the DL Depth

Following Lawrence Guy's release this offseason, Davon Godchaux was absent from OTAs thrusting players like Daniel Ekuale and Jeremiah Pharms up the depth chart. Godchaux is entering the final year of this contract and is a big piece of the picture up front, especially without Guy. Barmore, with his new contract in hand it the obvious key, but the other DL spots could have questions outside of him and veteran captain Deatrich Wise. Like the edge spot, there isn't a lot of experienced depth nor young talent that are the obvious promotions into those potential roles behind Godchaux and Guy. Keion White is a wild card along the defensive line and could help offset the loss of Guy, but Ekuale, Pharms and even 2023 practice squadder Trysten Hill should get plenty of reps in minicamp. "[Keion's] versatility, he's always been a strong guy but I'd say he's even stronger now," Mayo said of White's strides in Year 2. "And in the meeting rooms, he's kind of talking and leading those conversations, which I think is important."

6. Opportunity at Running Back

One player who ended 2023 on IR who but appears already back to 100 percent is Rhamondre Stevenson. Stevenson was all-everything last summer and his loss for the season had an underplayed impact on how far the offense fell off. This spring Stevenson looked like he was back to that player and that is great news for a running back group that has some real depth questions. Antonio Gibson has flashed promise that he can make an impact, which should help limit the wear and tear on Stevenson. But beyond that duo questions abound. JaMycal Hasty drew the most attention in OTAs by making the most of his team reps, he had multiple catches from multiple quarterbacks. Kevin Harris is another early-down option who should have every opportunity to win an early-down role but with two undrafted rookies also in the mix there should be plenty of competition this summer, the groundwork of which will be laid during minicamp.

7. Two Cornerback Roles Up for Grabs?

There would appear to be two available roles at cornerback, specifically in the slot and as a third outside corner behind Christian Gonzalez, who looked fully healthy this spring, and Jonathan Jones, who appears to still be recovering from something. Isaiah Bolden has good length, while Alex Austin showed good development in just a month with the defense last year. Both have gotten plenty of quality reps with starter-level players, as has Marco Wilson. Marcus Jones should also be in the mix in the slot but there are a few ways it could all come together, especially if the defense looks to slide Jonathan Jones inside to the slot on passing downs. Rookie Marcellas Dial could also make an early minicamp push but appeared limited in the final OTA. At least one of these players seems assured of playing a new big role on defense, minicamp should help continue to sort it all out.

8. Can the Offense Move the Ball?

Let's be honest, what everyone will be writing about is whether the remade offense under Brissett and Maye can make plays against a veteran holdover defense. Things were clunky in the red zone during the June 4 OTA, especially in 11-on-11 team periods. Van Pelt preached patience as things come together, especially in an offense that marries the run and pass so closely. It might be hard to truly get a good sense of where the offense is until the pads come on this summer. But still, the offense will need to execute, even in June, to show some promise to build off of. There were moments of it in OTAs but can they make tangible strides and get some wins over the defense? That could be the most encouraging thing of all to come from minicamp.

9. Defensive Evolutions

Demarcus Covington won't be giving away any secrets to his defensive plans in minicamp, but we'll start to get an early feel for how he'll evolve the defense that is largely the same as it was in 2023. Personnel questions at cornerback and defensive line are significant but more about depth. Covington has some elite pass rushers, a stable of safeties, experienced and versatile linebackers and two top-notch cornerbacks to start with. Will he continue to spin the dial like Mayo and Steve Belichick did in recent seasons, following an aggressive trend that arrived in 2018 with Brian Flores? Or could he take his foot off the gas a bit? The early practices indicate that they'll stay every bit as aggressive, but changes are inevitable as the defense tries to stay ahead of the curve.

10. Mayo's Minicamp

This will be the first time that new head coach Jerod Mayo has his entire 2024 squad together. Will he handle mandatory minicamp much differently than Bill Belichick did? Over the last two years Belichick canceled the final day of minicamp, could Mayo follow a similar route, especially with Tom Brady's Hall of Fame induction set to take place on the night of the final minicamp practice? Mayo continues to put his mark on the team and minicamp will be his first extended opportunity to show what he believes his team needs to cap off a successful offseason.

DISCLAIMER: The views and thoughts expressed in this article are those of the writer and don't necessarily reflect those of the organization. Read Full Disclaimer

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