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

Patriots Mailbag: Maye excitement, OL questions and more

With the draft complete it's time to weigh in on the rookie class.


To give you all a less contentious question (though I'm still not sold on drafting a quarterback body without a quarterback mind), who are some players at positions of need that may now be available via trade based on their team's draft class? In particular, thinking of an actual left tackle (which this team seems allergic to obtaining) and tight end.
Mike Aboud

Just because you say you're not being contentious doesn't mean that's true. Exactly what are you basing your thoughts on with regard to Drake Maye's quarterback mind (whatever that is). By all accounts Maye is an exceptionally bright football mind who ably read defenses and understood game plans at a very high level. Maye has some questions about his mechanics and his accuracy and if he doesn't improve in those areas he will likely not reach his full potential. But I don't think we'll be saying he wasn't smart enough to succeed. He seems very impressive in that regard. As for adding pieces via trade, it's hard to imagine any good left tackles being on the block considering there don't seem to be enough to go around as it is. It's always possible that one shakes free, but more likely it would be a backup rather than a proven commodity. The Patriots have added four tight ends (Hunter Henry, Austin Hooper, Mitchell Wilcox and seventh-round pick Jaheim Bell). I'm not sure they would be in the market to trade for another one.

Any concern drafting Joe Milton will undermine Drake Maye's ability to develop his skills and as a leader of this team? It seems that everything I have read all are excited to have a developmental backup quarterback. My concern is that any time coaches spend developing Milton is time they are not developing Maye. Also, after two years of QB room dysfunction and fans chanting for the backup QB why do anything to undermine the franchise's most valuable member? All the stories of Tom Brady leading the rookies and young players through extra practice reps helped him develop as a leader and earn his teammates and coach's respect. What happens with two rookies? Milton has his guys and Maye has his or they share time with the guys? Seems like a situation where the locker room could become divided between the two QBs. How about the old saying … If you have two developmental QBs, you have no developmental QBs. Competition is great, I get it, but QB is different. The Pats just successfully followed the playbook on how to ruin a young QB and now they actually have a physically talented guy that all seem to agree needs time to develop. Why do this? Talk me down. I cannot see any benefit to this situation. Give me a recent example of this plan working with a current top 10 QB, not the Redskins 15 years ago.
Josh G.

I will start by saying that I didn't love the selection of Milton, but not really for any of the reasons you suggest. I don't think he was very good during his time in college at both Michigan and Tennessee. So, I didn't really see any point in taking a flyer on him, even in the sixth round. However, I'm not overly concerned with any impact it will have on Maye, or how it would possibly stunt Maye's development. I simply see it as the Patriots adding a lottery ticket to the mix and possibly trying to increase their odds of finding a quarterback. Maye will get every opportunity to be the team's leader and earn his way to the starting job. Milton isn't even a lock to make the team. So, honestly I don't see the scenario you laid out as being any real concern. However, if Maye ultimately fails it's possible that Milton will take advantage of that and step in someday. But that to me is a real long shot.

I was happy to see the Patriots stick at 3 and take Drake Maye. I question the taking of Joe Milton. I live in Tennessee, so I got to see him every weekend. He was great at moments and awful in the next. Since Jerod Mayo was a player at Tennessee, perhaps he had some info from friends at the school? What's your take on the selection of Milton?
David Phillips

Why Joe Milton, who rejected any possibility play WR/TE?
Ken K.

My take on Milton is pretty much your take on Milton. He has immense skills – tremendous size and strength – but he never put it together during his time at two different schools. He never really enjoyed any success at Michigan or Tennessee, and both schools had plenty of talent around him to help his cause. Maybe Milton will be a late-bloomer and he'll develop into a solid NFL quarterback. The Patriots only used a sixth-round pick on him so it's not like he cost them anything significant. I have my doubts just like you, but there are worse ways to use late-round fliers.

Question for Evan: Did you notice that the measurables ( and RAS scores for Caedan Wallace and Kingsley Suamataia are quite similar? I recognize Suamataia has experience at left tackle, while Wallace has been exclusively right, but are you optimistic about the similar measurables?
Jason Jolin

Sorry to disappoint you that it's my week to answer questions and not Evan's. Unfortunately you'll have to settle for my novice approach of actually watching players play rather than studying spread sheets and RAS scores. (In all seriousness Jason, I will run this by Evan and maybe he can get back to you on it in the future). Suamataia is by no means considered a sure thing prospect in the NFL. Many feel he is a developmental guy who will take some time before he's ready. So, to answer your question, no it doesn't really make me feel all that different that Wallace and Suamataia are similar from an athletic standpoint, although the latter's experience as a left tackle is noteworthy. But like I said, I will wait to see these guys play in the NFL before I cast judgement on their abilities to compete as pros.

Pats needed to get playmakers at wide receiver and tackle with 34 and 68 picks, and do you feel if they handled these picks/trades to the optimum?
Larry G.

This one is tough to answer because we haven't seen anyone play yet. On paper I would have liked to see the Patriots be a little more aggressive and move up to target a wideout they liked (perhaps Xavier Legette?) but Eliot Wolf said he liked Ja'Lynn Polk all along and grabbed him. The trade down worked out pretty well as the Patriots added a pick in the fourth round and added another wideout in Javon Baker. So, even though I would have rather had Legette or Adonai Mitchell than Polk, the wideout situation seemed to work out fine. The tackle situation is murkier. I don't see Caeden Wallace stepping into a role immediately, so the left tackle spot remains a high question. But I said many times heading into the draft that the goal should be to find good players and not necessarily the ones who can play right away. If Wallace is a starter eventually no one is going to complain that he wasn't the starter on opening day.

Eliot Wolf & Co. had a solid first draft, still, did their inexperience show with the Patriots missing out on two wide receiver draft targets at the top of the second round and needing to overreach for Ja'Lynn Polk, and then overreaching for two offensive linemen?
Stan C.

I don't really think they reached much for Wallace considering the run on tackles that was underway. Wolf needed to draft someone who they could potentially develop at tackle and if they passed on Wallace he would not likely have been there when it came around again. I agree to an extent on Polk, who I really like but not as much as Legette and Mitchell. There were reports about Mitchell dropping due to some behavioral concerns so if those turn out to be true then I'm more optimistic on the Polk pick. Overall, I think the draft was fine and we'll see how these players work out down the road.

After the first pick, every pick, excluding Javon Baker, was a reach. Often it was a huge reach (Caedon Wallace, Layden Robinson). Why the QB? He was quite possibly there in the seventh round and all he can do is throw hard. No accuracy, timing or touch. Without Drake Maye this is a Bill Belichick draft on the face of it. It leaves me with great fear of how this regime will treat their league leading, by a huge amount, cap space next March. After the recent free agency period and the current draft, do you feel confident in this current regime?
David Brown

I'm having a hard time understanding what kind of players people expect to find on Day 3 of the draft. In other words, I'm not a big of fan of picks in the 100s being considered reaches. Wallace may have gone a round or so early but with the tackles going off the board at a rapid rate it seemed like the right time to grab one or miss out altogether. The Day 3 guys are all largely projections and it's possible that one or two hit. I didn't like the selection of Milton because I thought there were positional players available that potentially could have been better choices. But overall this class will depend on how well the players develop, especially Maye. If Maye and a couple others work out, no one will wonder about where they were picked.

I have always appreciated and always will all that Bill Belichick has done on every level of the franchise but have to say that I really enjoyed the new open experience that was played out by the franchise this year in regards to the 2024 NFL draft. What is your opinion Paul from your perspective of being inside the building on this new approach from our New England Patriots?
Marc Saez

To be honest none of that stuff really matters to me. You are correct in that Jerod Mayo and Eliot Wolf were available to the media more than Belichick normally was. Wolf even spoke to us on Patriots Unfiltered after the Maye pick. It was great from a personal standpoint to have that immediate interaction. But like I said, none of that will matter if the picks aren't right and the development does not occur. Belichick obviously made a lot of great picks and did a lot of great developing over the better part of 25 years and had unprecedented success. The fact that he didn't talk to us much about any of it was meaningless to me. If these moves prove to be correct, the same will be true of Wolf and Mayo.

Which players chosen by the Patriots in the 2024 NFL draft do you think will be starters for the Patriots in 2024? Do the Patriots have a left tackle? The Patriots appear to have three right tackles. What do you foresee as the solution to this?
Haishi Sun

This largely depends on how long it takes Drake Maye to become the starter but if we're looking toward opening day at this point I'd say Ja'Lynn Polk would be the most likely draft pick to start as a rookie. I could also see Javon Baker earning some time at some point during the season. Otherwise I don't see any of the other draft picks as starters in 2024. As for left tackle, I would lean toward Chuks Okorafor as the starter at this point. The rookie linemen will need time and there really isn't any option as a left tackle on the roster. We shall see.

When Eliot Wolf says "we are a draft and develop team," does this mean the Patriots do not select starting caliber players in the NFL draft? In the 2024 NFL draft the Patriots diligently maneuvered around the potential perennial All-Pros, starting tackles and wide receivers to select depth players and developmental projects. In contrast, Jim Harbaugh for the L.A. Chargers, picking from just two positions lower than the than the Patriots, came away with 2025 starters and potential 10-plus year starters.
Walter Williams

Says who? How do you know the Chargers took potential 10-plus year starters? And I don't understand how the Patriots diligently moved around the board and avoided All-Pros etc. when they executed exactly one trade, moving from 34 to 37. I guess Ladd McConkey is the All-Pro you are referring to? And the phrase "draft and develop" team doesn't mean not targeting starters. It means you take good young players and make them better. Kind of like the Patriots have done with Kyle Dugger and Christian Barmore, two recent draft picks who re-signed and should continue to be starters moving forward. That's the philosophy that Wolf is talking about. Ja'Lynn Polk was drafted with the idea of being a starter in mind. If he turns out to not be good enough, that's not going to be because Wolf felt he was a backup. I think the development part has been missing in recent years and hopefully Mayo and his staff can correct that problem.

It appears the Pats watched the parade go by at wide receiver and tackle and then reached for leftovers at those positions instead of drafting better players. I'm disheartened that the new regime pandered to the fans and media in this way. Why do the noodniks in the media insist on pretending that Day 2 picks can fill the holes in the starting lineup? And how weak are the Pats to go along with this? I wanted them to pick the best players they could. Day 2 is hit or miss, and even the hits are unlikely to provide immediate help. Locking in on particular positions is good if you're trying to sell hope, but reduces your odds of getting good players.
Peter Hill

I'm not exactly sure what the Patriots were supposed to do to avoid watching the "parade go by." They had the third pick of the draft and an enormous need at quarterback. The consensus No. 2/3 quarterback was available and they took him. Would you be happier if they took Marvin Harrison Jr. at No. 3? That was an option and Harrison seems destined to be a very good player. But they went with the quarterback. They also needed wide receivers and took one in the second round. They could have done what they did last year and ignored their needs and took marginal projects in Rounds 2 and 3. Instead they took players who are at least projects at positions of need. I don't think it has anything to do with selling hope beyond taking Maye in the first round. No team has hope without a quarterback.

Now that we have two great rookie wide receivers in Ja'Lynn Polk and Javon Baker, what do you think should happen with guys like JuJu Smith-Schuster and Tyquan Thornton? Do you think we would be able to get any value out of them in the trade block? Also, is there any way you see either of these rookie WRs getting the No. 1 wide receiver spot in our offense by the season?
Ernest Friday

I love your optimism but I'm not ready to say the Patriots drafted two good receivers let alone two great ones. These poor kids haven't even put on a uniform yet and we have them knocking players off the roster and securing the No. 1 role in the offense. I do think Smith-Schuster and Thornton may be expendable. Smith-Schuster will be more difficult to unload due to his contract but as a proven veteran he may be worth a seventh-round pick swap from some team ready to win. Thornton hasn't enjoyed any NFL success so his status is more unknown. His age and contract might be enticing to someone looking to give him a fresh start. I think Polk could be a factor in the offense right away and could earn a role, but we have a long time to wait before we see if that will be possible.

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