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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Thu May 23 - 02:00 PM | Tue May 28 - 11:55 AM

Patriots Mailbag: Is it Maye or McCarthy?

More draft talk dominates this week's Patriots mailbag.

dugger-mailbag

I understand and agree with the philosophy of keeping your own free agents before bringing in players from elsewhere. That having been said, please explain to me how Kyle Dugger is worth $14.5 million per year with $32.5 million guaranteed, which makes him the sixth-highest paid safety in the NFL. He has never been selected for the Pro Bowl. He has forced exactly two fumbles in three seasons as a starter. He had two pick-sixes in 2022 and has done nothing beyond the ordinary since then. He is frequently out of position and ends up missing tackles as a result. It doesn't matter how hard you hit if you're not there. I've also seen him quit on plays. I can only assume the team thinks he is going to have a breakout season this year and they are better off locking him up now before his value increases. What are they seeing that I'm not? Are they tapping him to make the on-field adjustment calls?
Jeff Conti

I will start by saying I have a higher view of Dugger as a player than you do, which is fine since we can all have varying opinions of such things. I don't view the contract as being anything out of whack – maybe a bit rich but basically $32.5 million guaranteed so nothing that would prevent the team from making any other moves. The salary cap is growing so much each year that it's rarely a factor anymore, so there's plenty of space to work with as well. Dugger is a solid veteran who has shown the ability to make some plays during his four seasons with the Patriots. He was certainly better in 2022 than he was last year, but I feel he was asked to do some different things and for the most part held up well while playing further away from the line of scrimmage than is normally the case. I would like to see him make more impact plays, as you suggested, but I feel it was an important step to retain a player for solid money who was part of your nucleus. I don't have any problem at all with this extension.

With most of the pre-draft talk rightly being reserved for the young men who will more than likely go in the first two rounds of this year's NFL draft can I get your opinion on these three men who will have their names called after the top guns? They are running back Frank Gore Jr. and wide receivers Ricky Pearsall and Malachi Corley who in my humble opinion appear to all have not only got the physical ability required to play in the NFL but have also demonstrated in the pre-draft process the mentality and maturity that you would like to see them possess. What's your thoughts on these three candidates Paul, and where do you see them taken on the night?
Marc Saez

I like the two wideouts more so than Gore. Both receivers should be Day 2 picks while most of the draft experts have Gore tabbed to go on Day 3. Of the two I like Corley more than Pearsall but both have some traits I like. Pearsall is more of a pure slot, so I don't see that as a huge need for the Patriots. He was productive at Florida and showed good hands but at times struggled with press coverage. Corley to me is the better prospect because of his physicality. At 5-11, 215 he's bigger and has drawn some comparisons to Deebo Samuel for his ability to run after the catch. Honestly I'm not really interested in either one for the Patriots because I'd like to get someone with more explosiveness but Corley's physicality after the catch is hard to ignore. I like both of those receivers down the road. As for Gore, he's a solid no-nonsense runner who should be available on Day 3. I don't see running back as a major need but he could provide some competition for a backup spot with his durability as an every-down back at Southern Miss.

Bonjour camarades, from Paris, France. Been following you guys for more than 20 years now, always a pleasure. I'm not buying either Drake Maye nor Jayden Daniels with third overall. This draft is so deep with QBs maybe we can find talent elsewhere. What do you think about going:
**- 1st pick: best WR: Marvin Harrison Jr., Malik Nabers
*- 2nd Pick: Best Tackle on Board
- 3rd pick: Spencer Rattler and bench him for first year at least. Kid has arm talent and upside.

Other option:
*- what do you think about J.J. McCarthy if he's on the board early second or third?
**- or trade down a little from third overall and still get great WR and be in good position for the rest (OT, QB)
William Lefevre

I think if you pass on the quarterback then you're making the determination that you won't have much of a chance to solve that problem in this draft. The longer you wait to take one the lower the odds are of hitting on the pick. Rattler is quite small and failed to live up to his lofty prospect status during his time at Oklahoma and South Carolina. He has some skills to be sure but has yet to prove that he can live up to expectations. I would not be in favor of such a pick. As for McCarthy, there are many who believe he could go in the top 10 (or even higher) so my guess is expecting him to be available on Day 2 is unrealistic. I would take a quarterback at 3 (likely Maye) and if he doesn't pan out then you have to just keep trying. But passing on a potentially solid quarterback is more damaging than taking one and having him bust. It's not easy by any means but I feel the Patriots should go with the quarterback.

If we take it that the choice at 3 is between Drake Maye and Jayden Daniels - I'm not biting on the J.J. McCarthy hype, he's just the Mac Jones to the 49ers of this draft - does the priority in Round 2 change depending on which QB we get? I like Maye for the pick but if we get Daniels does it give the Pats the opportunity to take a WR that's a bit higher on their board than a tackle who might be slightly lower on their board but might be more of a priority if Maye is the pick?
Len Carmody

I don't think the identity of the quarterback should impact any of the other picks. If the Patriots feel the receivers are rated so much higher than the tackles available in the second round, I'm not sure why it would matter which quarterback they have. Both Maye and Daniels are very mobile (Daniels is a better runner) but both would need pass protection and help at receiver. I feel the tackle makes more sense because I feel a potential third-round receiver could help while a tackle that late probably wouldn't be ready. Now, if the receivers available are so much better than the tackles, then the Patriots should grab one and worry about the tackle later. It doesn't have to all come together in one draft.

Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy.
Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy.

I seem to be alone but I prefer Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy over the other choice. My reasoning is simple. Both Jayden Daniels and Drake Maye are southern boys who haven't had a ton of experience playing in the cold rain and snow of New England. I know most people think that is overrated but being 65 and having lived here all my life I have seen a lot of southerner's reactions to our weather. I work as a security guard dealing with truck drivers who to a man seem to hate our weather unless they are from the northern tier of states. So, color me crazy, but I think J.J. is the best fit?
Gary Fiske
Hinsdale, N.H.

First I'll say that you are absolutely not overrating the importance of having a quarterback who can play in bad weather. I feel that trait is extremely important in a quarterback as half the season is played in less-than-optimal conditions. Tom Brady was at his best when the weather was at its worst. That said, I don't think where a person is from makes him more or less prepared to deal with the elements. I believe Maye will handle bad weather just fine due to his size and strength. He will not have problems throwing in windy conditions due to his arm strength. Mac Jones did not possess enough arm strength to ably deal with the harsh New England conditions and that was one reason why he struggled down the stretch. It wasn't his only problem of course, but it was on the list. I know Daniels had some comments attached to him earlier in the pre-draft process indicating he did not want to play in the northeast so maybe he would be more of a concern, but like Maye he certainly has enough size and strength to compete in the elements. So, I'm 100 percent with you with regard to the importance of playing in bad weather but not necessarily in agreement that Maye and Daniels can't do it. We shall see.

We Pats fans have watched as our de facto GM has been on cruise control during the free agency period. No home runs were hit but there were several hits, some of an urgent nature. Compared to the Texans, the Pats were seemingly spinning their wheels in place. If the Pats have an outstanding draft (The first three picks hit and a franchise QB is among them) I can see the Pats being very active in next year's free agency. They have over $60 million dollars more than any other team available per Over The Cap. With a potential franchise QB in place, more players will seriously consider the Pats, like when Brady was here. Do you think this year's free agent spending was done with next year's free agency in mind?
David Brown

I do not believe that was part of the thought process but it certainly could work out that way given the scenario you laid out. In my view Jerod Mayo and Eliot Wolf wanted to keep their own players and build with a younger nucleus and that's why they didn't spend as much in free agency as some hoped. I think they aggressively targeted Calvin Ridley and were willing to pay him in excess of $20 million a year to get him, so I don't see that as an example of waiting until next season to spend. If the draft process pans out the way you describe, that would be the most important element of any rebuild and whatever they do in free agency in the future will be gravy.

I saw your 2024 opponents. Trade down for more offensive line, defensive line and wide receiver help. As for a QB, take Spencer Rattler or Bo Nix if you can or take the [Michael Pratt] later. Jerod Mayo needs to call Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels for consulting purposes.
Dennis O'Sullivan

I'm not sure what the schedule has to do with the need to find a quarterback. The Patriots definitely need help on the offensive line and at wide receiver. I don't think the defensive line is nearly as much of a priority at this point. If you wait until Day 2 to take a quarterback the odds would be overwhelmingly against finding the answer at quarterback. So, you can take Rattler if you want, but that would almost certainly mean the Patriots will still need a quarterback heading into the 2025 season. Obviously, that could be the case if they take Jayden Daniels or Drake Maye at 3 also, but at least you're taking the more talented options.

Any chance they take wide receiver at 3 or trade for a No. 1 WR and draft Dillon Gabriel?
Russell Doe

At this stage I would be surprised if the Patriots took a receiver at No. 3. I just don't think it's worth passing on a potential starting quarterback to grab a wideout that high. I don't rule out the Patriots looking to acquire a top receiver, however. Maybe San Francisco would be willing to deal Brandon Aiyuk as he's set to enter the final year of his contract. I do not see Gabriel as a viable NFL quarterback and would be surprised if he was drafted at all. He's very small, doesn't have a great arm and is not considered a prospect.

If the Patriots did indeed take Drake Maye then they pick a top tackle with the 34th pick, what are the chances they could still be able to get a No. 1 receiver in the third round in a receiver heavy draft?
Luis Manalaysay

I don't think the odds of finding a true No. 1 receiver in the third round would be great, but it wouldn't be as tough as finding a quarterback that late. Plenty of wideouts have made an impact in the middle and later rounds in recent seasons, like the Rams Puka Nucua last season. Nucua had an excellent rookie season and as a fifth-round pick would be an outlier, but there are plenty of guys who contribute right away taken on Day 2 and 3. I agree with your scenario – take a quarterback and then a tackle and hope you can still find a talented wideout in a deep draft at that position. Of course, that's easy for us to say sitting on the outside!!

Michael Onwenu quickly became a good starter at guard and a capable right tackle. What did teams miss on their scouting evaluation to have him drop to pick 182?
Todd Johnson

In general terms, a lot of interior offensive linemen are selected in the middle-to-later rounds. It's not necessarily anything specific that teams missed on Onwenu as that's sort of where the value for his position lies. Obviously the Patriots took Cole Strange in the first round a couple of years later, and that pick was roundly criticized. Strange had better feet and more athleticism coming out of college, but Onwenu came from a much better program and had much more playing strength. The knock on him was his lack of athleticism, which some felt would limit him as a pass blocker. I'd say that the mistake was more with overvaluing Strange than undervaluing Onwenu. Obviously if everyone knew that Onwenu would be a solid starter he likely would have been taken higher, but that's the case every year with dozens of players.

North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye.
North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye.

I really want us to take Drake Maye with the No. 3 pick, but I'm feeling unsettled with all the chatter about trading down. It could be all noise from the media. You don't often get this chance to pick this high and I'd hate to see us waste it away and not get a possible franchise QB.
Jeff McCarroll

I agree that I don't want to trade down and lose out on a chance to take a potential difference maker at the most important position. Clearly there are no guarantees about any of the prospects and it's hard to figure out exactly how they will all pan out. But I would feel much worse passing on Maye or Daniels to trade down and then watching either of those guys turn into a Pro Bowl quarterback. Teams without settled quarterback play are limited and there's no way of figuring things out at that position unless you draft/acquire one. If it doesn't work, you have to keep trying.

I heard that Jim Harbaugh would like to get J.J. McCarthy on his team and might be willing to trade Justin Herbert and their No. 5 pick to the Patriots for the No. 3. I would take that trade, what do you think about it?
Stacy Hanson

If Harbaugh offered the No. 5 pick and Herbert to move up two spots he should be fired before he hung up the phone. That would be insane. I don't think that has ever been discussed. Some have felt that Harbaugh's affection for McCarthy, whom he coached at Michigan, is more about trying to entice a team in the top four to take him. That way he'd likely have his pick of whichever non-quarterback he wanted at No. 5. So, if he wanted Marvin Harrison Jr. and Arizona took McCarthy at 4 after Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels and Drake Maye were off the board, he'd be available. I don't think Harbaugh would be willing to trade a proven commodity like Herbert.

So, out of all the QBs this year, my honest favorite is Michael Penix. Is there any way you can give me hope for us drafting him? Whether it's at 3 or a Vikings trade where we get him later. I want him, and then to sit behind Jacoby Brissett for a year. To me, it is a Lamar Jackson situation. He's unconventional, a lefty who is mobile, but he drops that football into a bucket. He's not a jag. Any way you can see us getting him, you know more inside than I do.
Blake Norris

I have no idea if the Patriots are interested in Penix or not but they haven't devoted nearly the amount of time scouting him as they have Jayden Daniels, Drake Maye and J.J. McCarthy. That doesn't mean they're not interested, but it would make me skeptical. As for your summation of Penix, I disagree completely. Penix in many ways is the most conventional guy available. In my view he's the best pure passer of the group and does his best work from the pocket. Kind of old school in that way. He is not, however, very mobile. He can move around the pocket a bit and can run a little, but mobility is not his strong suit and he is not at his best when forced to move off platform to make plays. He also has some significant injury history with his knees and shoulders. That said, I like Penix a lot. But it seems like the Patriots are not as sold on him as some of the others.

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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