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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Wed May 29 - 04:00 PM | Thu May 30 - 09:55 AM

NFL Notes: Some thoughts as the draft approaches

With draft weekend on tap, it’s time to break down some thoughts on how things will unfold.

LSU QB Jayden Daniels and UNC QB Drake Maye.
LSU QB Jayden Daniels and UNC QB Drake Maye.

The endless speculation, rumors and various other draft-related rhetoric finally comes to an end on Thursday, but there are still plenty of questions. While we'll have to wait another couple of days to find the answers, there's been enough information floating around the league to make some educated guesses.

That said, here are some thoughts on things related to the weekend.

From the end of the season until now all indications seem to point toward the Patriots taking a quarterback at No. 3. Nothing has happened during that time that has changed my mind. Jerod Mayo and Eliot Wolf have spoken about the importance of the position, and Mayo's comments the day he was hired pointed toward pulling the trigger at the game's most important position. Ultimately, I expect either Jayden Daniels or Drake Maye to be the pick.

One minor concern stemming from the past couple of weeks involves the Patriots references to being "open for business" when it comes to a trade. Understanding that it's good business to listen to any and all offers, and trying to increase a potential deal makes sense, it would be comforting to hear Wolf and Mayo sounding confident in sticking at 3 and knowing at least one of the quarterbacks they love will be available. Not necessarily looking for the identity of the pick, but it's hard to imagine so many references to trades if in fact the new brain trust was sold on the next quarterback.

That said, it's also hard to imagine anyone being interested in offering "the bag" to the Patriots to move to 3. Assuming quarterbacks go with the first two picks, it's unlikely a team would have enough conviction in the third option to cough up significant resources to move up. If a team like Minnesota or Las Vegas were faced with the choice of sitting tight and hoping for J.J. McCarthy or Michael Penix or surrendering multiple draft picks and perhaps a quality player, the answer seems simple.

McCarthy may be the most polarizing player in the draft. Some feel his physical skill set will allow him to do more than he was asked to do under Jim Harbaugh at Michigan. Others wonder if he's the product of a dominant cast around him and simply a system quarterback. The latter trait has drawn comparisons to Mac Jones, but he's much more gifted physically than the former Patriots quarterback. Also like Jones, he began the pre-draft process as a second-round pick but has seen his stock rise over the past month. Many felt Jones would go to the Niners at No. 3 in 2021, but he ultimately landed in New England at 15. It will be interesting to see if McCarthy follows a similar path and winds up going in the teens, which I think will be the case.

Speaking of McCarthy, there's a perceived line of thought with regard to his potential that I'm not quite sure I understand. Many believe McCarthy is "the safe pick" among the quarterbacks due to his reputation as a strong leader and his intelligence. In my view, he's the biggest risk because among the group of top quarterbacks he by far threw the fewest amount of passes and requires the biggest projection. Caleb Williams, Daniels, Maye, Penix and Bo Nix all had times when they were forced to carry the load for their teams. While McCarthy's teams won (27-1), he never was faced with the types of adversity and pressure to lift everyone around him the way the others routinely did. That doesn't mean he won't be successful in the NFL, but I don't understand the notion of him being a safer pick than any of the others. There's risk involved in all six.

The area of the draft that will be fascinating to watch when it comes to quarterbacks is the middle of the round. Teams picking in the teens including Minnesota (11), Denver (12), Las Vegas (13), New Orleans (14), Seattle (16) and the Rams (19) all could be in the quarterback market. It will be interesting to see if any of them feel strong enough about those available to strike a deal to move up. That most likely won't be the case, but all it takes is one team to fall in love with one quarterback to make an impact on the entire round.

The record for offensive players taken in the first round of a draft is 19, which has happened three times, most recently in 2009. This year's class will likely top that. Due to the depth at quarterback, wide receiver and tackle, many experts expect the number to exceed 20. Assuming Williams, Daniels, Maye and McCarthy all go in the first round, wide receivers Marvin Harrison Jr., Malik Nabors and Rome Udunze as well as tackles Joe Alt, Olu Fashanu and J.C. Latham are all locks. Tight end Brock Bowers also will hear his name called Thursday night. Those 11 players could easily be off the board in the first 15 picks.

One of my favorite players in this class is unfortunately one who has almost no chance of becoming a Patriot. Florida State defensive end Jared Verse is a great story, transferring from FCS Albany before enjoying back-to-back 9-sack seasons for the Seminoles. Verse is projected as a mid-first-round pick and given the needs on offense isn't really on the table for the Patriots, but he's an impressive prospect.

News and Notes

Retired Patriots WR Matthew Slater
Retired Patriots WR Matthew Slater

ESPN's Mike Reiss reports that Matthew Slater accepted a full-time position working alongside Mayo as "his right-hand man." Reiss described Slater's role as "providing Mayo a sounding board on football and team building, as well as assistance in 'people development.'" Having a strong presence like Slater involved in football can only be an asset to the new regime.

Wolf's pre-draft press conference last week offered a couple of interesting tidbits, one involving the left tackle position. Wolf was asked who the starter would be if the season opened today, and the de facto GM said Chukwuma Okorafor would likely get the call, although he added that the question was better suited for Mayo to answer. Okorafor hasn't played left tackle during his six NFL seasons, but Wolf pointed toward his experience at the position during his college days at Western Michigan. That would appear to leave tackle as a major priority in the draft and a strong candidate to be used with the 34th overall pick. The trouble with that line of thought is many of the top tackles are expected to be off the board by the time the second round begins, which could make finding a plug-and-play option difficult.

I loved Reiss' final factoid over the weekend when he mentioned former Brown University wide receiver Sean Morey was the answer to the trivia question: Who was the last draft pick made before Bill Belichick arrived? Morey was the Patriots seventh-round pick in 1999 and a special teams ace who easily could have caught Belichick's eye in the draft. It wasn't too surprising that he stuck around the league for nine seasons with stints in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Arizona after his Patriots days ended in 2000.

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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