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Patriots Mailbag: Finalizing Patriots Draft Outlook

With just 10 days to go until the NFL Draft, Patriots fans are locked in on the quarterbacks at third overall but wondering what a trade-down haul could bring in return.


The 2024 NFL Draft is quickly approaching and its arrival will be a welcome one in New England after months of speculation about what the Patriots will do with their highest pick in over 30 years. While many are locked in on Drake Maye and Jayden Daniels, there's still plenty of discourse about what a trade-down could bring in return and how late riser J.J. McCarthy might factor into the team's draft plans.

Any way you slice it, this is a critical draft for Eliot Wolf, Jerod Mayo and the remade Patriots. There are plenty of needs and plenty of fits up and down the draft board. All New England needs to do now is stockpile young players who can play and let them lead the way out of the divisional basement. Sounds simple, but everyone knows it isn't.

Here's what Patriots fans are wondering as the months of speculation begin to wrap up.

I fully understand the hype surrounding Caleb Williams and Drake Maye but I have a difficult time seeing Jayden Daniels as an NFL QB. Why would Washington take RGlll redux? More important, why would the Pats want a tall skinny QB that likes to run with today's bigger and faster defenses? True, a lot of the defense has been watered down but I am worried that Daniels will be standing there when the Pats pick. Do you think he has the body that can stand up to the rigors of today's NFL?
David Brown

I'd start this off by saying that all the top QBs will have some developmental issues to work through if they're to become championship-caliber players, but I do share your concerns about Daniels. That said, he still remains on my Big Board, however there are more red flags with Daniels than Maye and as much as his breakaway speed is an easy piece that translates to the NFL, I worry that having that crutch will either lead to injuries and/or be too much of a crutch that prevents him from developing into the kind of passer he'll need to be at the next level. Obviously there are some huge traits to work with, including his arm talent and ability to work through progressions, and I'd rather swing on a big talent than take a "high floor" quarterback, so there is an argument for Daniels, but, like most picks after the top few, it comes with some risk.

If you were the Patriots GM who would you select at pick 3?
Jon B.

Maye is the easy choice. He was the top-ranked guy on my Big Board because he's just the kind of raw quarterback with all the tools you're looking for that would be worth missing on if he didn't work out. Maye does have issues to iron out, but at his age he's got the time to develop into a more mature and measured player. But size, arm strength and athleticism will never be the issue for Maye. He'll have to put together all the talent and skill that he has to balance out his game. If Maye's not there things get complicated. I could argue for Harrison, Nabers or Alt there, but there would certainly be consideration to trade down and try to hit both the tackle and wide out spots. I just worry if Maye's not there and the team isn't willing to pull the trigger on Daniels that it will be hard to get a "quarterback of the future" with the picks the team has left, unless they get extremely aggressive to trade back up.

I have a feeling the Patriots will NOT make a pick at #34 in this year's draft. Do you think they will trade up (perhaps get a WR at 27 before Buffalo picks) or do you think they trade down and pick up more draft capital?
Jeff Hurlich

I don't love a trade down from that spot because it's almost high enough to be considered another first round pick. The trade down move in my eyes would be from third overall to add another potential pick between 20 and 60 into the mix. But again, it's hard to trade down from three and still think you're getting one of the top four quarterbacks. I do like the trade up from 34 if they could find someone to partner with. The late first round should have a number of leftover tackles and receivers that could really fit the bill as things play out and players get pushed down. I wouldn't forget #34 could also be a trade piece if the team was still actively looking at players like Tee Higgins or Brandon Aiyuk.

Greetings, wanted to say I've been a diehard PATS fan since 1963, keep up the good work. We should definitely take a QB at 3 but one clear difference is that Daniels needs to get in the weight room same as Brady did. With our long history of having very good receiving RB's we've been clearly deficient in that area for our post Brady QB's so what are your thoughts that Gibson can finally fill this role? Lastly, there's usually a lot of teams wanting to move up to early Day 3 picks so what are your thoughts of us trading down in Rd 4?
John Driscoll

Thanks John, I do think that Gibson can effectively fill the third-down back role but he also has some juice in the run game that should keep the Patriots pretty balanced in the backfield. Let's not forget Stevenson was pretty good as a pass catcher a couple years ago as well, so it doesn't look like the backfield will be so obvious from down to down. There's plenty of questions outside of the top two as well with veterans Ja'Mychal Hasty and Ke'Shawn Vaughn competing with third-year Patriot Kevin Harris for roles. I'd keep an eye on the Day 3 backs as well, there's some good complementary pieces that could push for playing time as well. Generally, I'd rather have fewer higher round picks than more lower round picks, so give me the trade-ups, not the trade-downs, especially in Day 3 when you're targeting specific players.

We were ruined by Tom Brady, and will never find his like again. Let us go forward from there. QB's draft by Pats since 2000... Brady #199, round 6; Cassel #230, Rd 7; Brissett #91, Rd 3, Garoppolo #62, Rd 2… All of them were clipboard holders for the rookie year.

Do we have any idea what to expect for the offense? Doesn't the QB shape the team or does the offense created by the coordinator shape the QB. 50% of successful teams have a very elusive QB, both NFL and college.

I don't see burners at many positions, so I am expecting the same drab offense as last year. For what its worth, our Super Bowl heroes were Mitchell, Gronk, Edelman, Vereen, White, Amendola ... No speed burners there, just damn good players working with the GOAT.
Bill Dunn

Certainly, a great quarterback can cover up a lot of holes and also lead you into believing that a quarterback's draft slot isn't all that important. Brady set some expectations across the board around here, but let's also remember what first overall pick Drew Bledsoe did in these parts. More often than not, the high first round is where the great quarterbacks are found and the Patriots shouldn't let that opportunity get by them this year. I think the offense will be centered on the run and play action. That' what Alex Van Pelt was known for in Cleveland and no matter who the QB is next year, it's a manageable system that doesn't put the entire weight of the offense on the quarterback and his ability to decipher the defense. I think speed is important for the offense and one additional dynamic rookie receiver could really round this group out. There are some really solid football players in there and the competition in the summer should sort it all out.

It is draft day and Patriots are on the clock with the third overall pick what move would you make out of the following scenarios?

1. Pick Maye

2. Trade drown for 3 1st rounders with the

Vikings or 1 1st rounder and Jefferson

3. Trade down with the giants for 2 1st rounders and change

4. Trade for Herbert with the Chargers

5. Trade with the Broncos for Surtain 1st and 2nd rounder

Thank you and keep up the good work! Go Pats!
Aaron Lee

Taking Maye is the simplest answer, but it's hard to ignore all those picks that Minnesota could dangle to get him. If Maye is gone, the pick is certainly for sale, but would Daniels get these same kinds of offers? I wonder if Minny and New York would still flip a haul for him. I'm more interested in the three picks from Minny than a first and Justin Jefferson, who you'd then have to make the highest paid receiver in league history. Honestly, Nabers on a rookie deal and a fifth-year option is more appealing to me than that. The three firsts is about the only thing that could shake me off of Maye at third and even then it comes with the acceptance that it's probably going to take another year to even get a shot at a true QB of the future.

I still prefer the Pats draft Maye, but am intrigued by McCarthy. I live in Minnesota now, so I see a lot of Big Ten football. Not only does McCarthy have a strong arm, accuracy and running ability, but he also seems to have a bit of that "it factor." What are your thoughts on McCarthy and regardless of who picks him, how high in the draft would you pick him?
Barry Leavitt

I think he's one player who the discussion has devolved around and now he's a hot button topic when, in my view, he's a really intriguing player who should be picked in the late first to early second. Now, through the lens of a top-10 pick, McCarthy doesn't make a lot of sense to me unless you feel really good about how you're projecting his development. Certainly getting a year to learn and develop would be a must. Through the lens of going at the end of the first to a good team that might have an aging quarterback, I love the pick. Going third overall to a Patriots team that needs him to do some "wow" stuff asap, I don't love it.

So what's a realistic win goal for the 2024 season? Defense didn't lose too much and we resigned our core players. Are we realistically competent QB play a LT and an X away from a .500 season assuming good health?
Matt Peterson

Add in a fourth-place finish schedule as well and I'd say seven wins is realistic if the team comes together and especially finds some competence on offense. The defense should keep them in just about every game and I'd expect they'll also produce more takeaways than they did last year. That should be worth a win or two on its own. Even just projecting Brissett as the starter should add another win to last year's dreadful total, so that gets us into the 6-7 range. The wild card is the offense overall, and that could raise that total closer to 8 or drop it closer to 5 unless it comes together in a way that it never did last season. The hope is that it seems like everything is starting to come together at the end of the season and even if they miss the playoffs there's a feeling that good things are brewing in New England.

A lot has been written about Bill Belichick's failures in the draft. But if you look at it, he really was very good at it. During his tenure, the average draft position was around 31. His only picks in the top 10 during that time were successes (Seymour (HOF) at 6 and Mayo at 10. His other notable first picks - Vince Wilfork @ 21. Logan Mankins @ 32. Patrick Chung @ 34. Devin McCourty @ 27. Chandler Jones @ 21.

That makes it a .291 average of drafting an impact player with the first pick. I think that is a pretty good average. Especially considering where they picked. If you compare that to HOFs picked in first round (95) in the history of the NFL over 100 years - NFL draft - 87 years. Bill actually performed well.
Stephen Libby

There's no question that over Bill Belichick's 24 seasons of drafting for the Patriots he had some epic, Hall of Fame hits. Some of those picks, like in 2010-2012 were incredibly timely, as that three-year core selected in that range set the table for a run of four trips to the Super Bowl in five years with three titles. The unfortunate issue was that there wasn't another three-year draft window in 2017-2019 to restock the shelves, especially on offense. Whereas the '09-'12 range produced future stars like Chung, Edelman, McCourty, Gronk, Hightower, and Chandler Jones, there were no such players found in the late 2010s and thus, the talent level around those aging players began to fall off. Maybe it's oversimplification, but failing to find and develop stars in those drafts was why things began to decline, and then when Brady left they were left with an average-at-best offense from 2020-2023 that couldn't compete with the best teams. Hence, this team needs to find offensive stars again to really get this thing turned around.

There has been a lot of discussion lately about the pros and cons of sitting a rookie quarterback for his first year or if going with the other option of throwing him in at the deep end and finding out just how strong a swimmer he can be is the correct path to go down. I have always seen the benefits in both these options but I strongly believe that these kind of decisions are always based on so many variable factors about the young athlete that require a lot of equating before any decision is made for him and if the people in control of his destiny don't do their addition right they will destroy his chances of ever succeeding at what he is probably more than capable of doing. What's your view on this polarizing question Mike and do you believe that it is okay to allow someone time to grow in the NFL?
Marc Saez

I think some time to sit is okay, but players are too good and need experience, so I would not sit a third-overall pick more than half a season. We had a good discussion of "breaking quarterbacks" on Patriots Unfiltered last week. I don't really believe that quarterbacks are easily broken if everything isn't perfect around them and they don't get to ease their way into things. The great ones will find a way. The ones that aren't destined for NFL careers will not. I put it on the player not the surrounding circumstances. Certainly, some situations are better than others but if you can play you can play, whether you're on al all-star team or you've got to make something happen out of nothing. So if Maye or Daniels is the pick at third overall, I hope we're seeing them play by November unless Jacoby Brissett has the team on an absolute heater.

I understand the need to draft a tackle, but what are the chances the Patriots sign any of the free agents tackles that are still available? Who do you think would be worth bringing in and possibly signing to a prove it type of contract? Becton, Leno, Dillard???
Jesse Hurkes

I think at this point they'll just wait and see what they get in the draft before moving on to those options. Despite their lack of high-end talent, the tackle group runs seven players deep on the roster right now, including Michael Onwenu. I do think there's an element of the team wanting to get a look at Calvin Anderson, Vederian Lower and Tyrone Wheatley before they begin to overextend on the veteran free agent market.

Who is your favorite non-1st-round prospect that you hope the Patriots draft?
Ben Scott

Lots of good options on the Big Board, but let's go with Xavier Leggette, Tyler Guyton, Patrick Paul and Malachi Corley. There are a lot of receivers that stretch into the third round that would get me excited.

Hi Deuce! Be honest. How pre-draft drained are you right now? What could the Patriots do that would be THE most surprising to you during the draft?
Clare Cooper

I'm heading to California for vacation tonight and then I'll roll back in the day before the draft, it's the perfect way to get through the final 10 days of silliness. Most surprising to me would be if they just didn't draft a quarterback. That would be shocking, followed by a tackle or wide receiver, roughly in that order.

Given that we expect that in the first 2 days of the Draft the focus will be around offense and given that the cornerback position also seems to be a sneaky need, do you see the Pats reaching out to Gilmore?
Amir Gur

I've been saying it all offseason, bringing back Gilmore makes a ton of sense. I'd love to see him mentor Gonzalez a bit. That said, I think they'll wait and see what they get in the draft before rounding out some final veteran free agent moves. Same thing as what's going on at offensive tackle.

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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