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Replay: Best of the Week on Patriots.com Radio Thu Jun 13 - 02:00 PM | Tue Jun 18 - 11:55 AM

Patriots Mailbag: To QB or not QB?

Sitting at No. 3 in the draft, the Patriots will have a choice between taking a quarterback or moving in another direction.

Mayo-16x9

I know New England needs a franchise quarterback and yes I want Caleb Williams but it will cost a lot to get him, so I'd stay put and draft the playmaker the Patriots have needed in Marvin Harrison Jr. Getting Harrison Jr. and trading back into first round and getting quarterback J.J McCarthy would be what I would love the Pats to do, we get a playmaker and quarterback. McCarthy reminds me a lot of a former Michigan Wolverine Tom Brady. What do you think, does this make the most sense for NE? - Mark Silveira

There's a lot of merit to taking Harrison in the first round. He would be the consensus best player in the draft and since wide receiver is a position of need you can certainly make a strong case that Harrison should be the pick. I don't necessarily see it that way, however, because quarterback is so much more important than receiver. If the Patriots have the opportunity to take the quarterback they like the best, whether that means trading up a spot or two to do it, then they should explore that option. I also don't love the idea of trading up into the first round to take a quarterback, which at that point would be at best the fourth one chosen and likely fifth or sixth. If the Patriots pass on quarterback at the top then I'd wait it out and take one later on without giving up any additional resources to do it. And honestly I don't see much Brady in McCarthy other than the school. Brady was a much bigger part of the offense in his final season than McCarthy was. Basically, McCarthy handed the ball off, throwing the ball 22 times per game. Even while splitting time with Drew Henson Brady threw it 27 times per game and engineered some incredible comebacks during his Wolverines career. McCarthy is more mobile and offers more as a runner, but Brady was the more accomplished passer and dropped in the draft because of Lloyd Carr's insistence in working Henson into the mix.

I don't really like the idea of taking a quarterback high in the draft. My perfect scenario would be to take Marvin Harrison Jr. then if Michael Penix falls trade back into the first round for him. If he's gone then take a lineman in the second and maybe Spencer Rattler in the third. Anyways, my question is what do you think of maybe doing something like Washington did when they drafted Robert Griffin and Kirk Cousins in the same draft since this year's class is deep at QB? I can't decide if it would be a good idea or not. - Blake Norris

This is similar to the previous post, and again I don't necessarily disagree with those who are reluctant to take a quarterback at 3. There's a lot of risk involved in taking QBs that high and many don't work out. However, if a quarterback is going to be taken I'd rather have my pick of the litter rather than waiting for whichever one is still available later. I like Penix a lot more than I do McCarthy and would consider him in the second round but like the previous example I don't want to trade up to get him when I could just sit tight at 3 and take a better prospect. As for the double dip … it's not a terrible idea but the Patriots need to find some players at several positions, and I'd rather not double up on quarterbacks.

Hey guys, thank you for making the offseason interesting for us. So, Alex Van Pelt is the new offensive coordinator and I am curious what do you think about that? With so many offensive coordinators getting head coaching interviews and jobs after just one good season, I honestly can't recall Van Pelt ever being interviewed for any head coach position. Is this a red flag? - Ross Redd

What is your take on the Alex Van Pelt hire Paul and do you believe that he will bring the fresh start that is so needed on this side of the ball and also do you think he will have a say on who his staff will be in regards to the wide receivers, tight ends and the completely dysfunctional offensive line? - Marc Saez

There are plenty of things I like about the Van Pelt hire. First and most importantly he has experience. He's been in the league as a coach for 18 years and during that time has worked as both an offensive coordinator and a quarterbacks coach. He has spent time in different systems with different teams, giving him some varied perspectives on schemes, players and organizations. I believe that will be beneficial for Jerod Mayo given his age and inexperience as well as that of most of the staff. I also like the idea of him working with Kevin Stefanski in a system that is similar to the Shanahan/McVay approach, which is something the Patriots evidently were looking for. On the other side I am a bit concerned that he doesn't have much experience calling plays, so there will be some adjustment for him moving into that role with the Patriots. But overall I like the hire and believe he can be effective. I don't necessarily view his lack of head coaching opportunities as a red flag, but I understand your thought process. In terms of rounding out the offensive staff I would assume he would have some say in potential additions but we haven't seen that as of yet. There were some reports indicating that a new offensive line coach is a possibility so perhaps that's a sign that Van Pelt already has some influence.

I see this chatter that Eliot Wolf will look "long and hard" at a tackle at No. 3. Please say it ain't so. Let this be typical BS season fodder. There are three top quarterbacks this year, possibly none next year, and we're actually in position to get one. This tackle class is so deep you could get a first-round talent with our second pick or even jump back in and grab one. The QBs are a totally different story, not to mention, you never want to be in a position to get another one this early again. I also see Evan referenced the Rams and Lions as examples of not having to draft one … both if those guys were No. 1 picks and swapped with each other. If anything it proves you have to take your swing with that early pick. Also, five years cheap rookie deal as opposed to a prove it followed by extension deal. It's tantamount to sabotage if a quarterback isn't taken at 3. - Darren Fagan

This is probably more along the lines of how I feel about the situation. No team wants to be consistently picking at the top of the draft so the Patriots should take advantage of the opportunity they currently have to look for a quarterback at 3. I do feel some of the "focused on tackle" stuff is a smoke screen as it's way too early for teams to be that committed to their draft direction at this stage. The quarterback position is pretty deep and there are no guarantees that will be the case next year or the next time the Patriots are in this spot. Hopefully they have the chance to take one they feel comfortable with at No. 3 and go from there. And I totally agree with your assessment of the Rams-Lions thing. Both are top overall picks who were worthy of their selections. That trade likely doesn't happen if the Rams weren't offering a player of Goff's ability. Both players had success with their original teams and both have had even more with their current ones. That should not be an example of why you don't take a quarterback high in the draft.

All the talk is on quarterback, tackle, wide receiver and rightly so. However, with kickers making or breaking games, what are the chances Chad Ryland makes the infamous second-year leap? Or is this a sneaky important need? Ditto Bryce Baringer, he seems middle of the pack for punters, but I'm not sure how to best evaluate punters. Average, hang time, downed inside the 20? - Rolf Froehling

Kickers can be very streaky and there's certainly a chance that Ryland will get off to a strong start next season, gain some confidence and put his struggles in the past. But I would be surprised if the Patriots didn't sign a kicker to compete against him in training camp in case that doesn't happen. I don't see the team using a draft pick on kicker again but there are plenty of options available every season on the market. As for Baringer, I agree he was pretty inconsistent but not to the point where his job should be in jeopardy. He showed enough to keep the spot and should improve with some experience.

I was trying to think outside the box a bit to make huge splash during the upcoming draft. I have consistently thought they have to go quarterback at 3, but then I started looking at draft value chart. I think if the Patriots draft Marvin Harrison Jr. at 3 assuming he is still there, that the third QB (likely Jayden Daniels or Drake Maye) would likely drop out of the top five, as the next team likely to take a quarterback would be the Falcons at 8. The Pats could package their second and third pick along with next season's first to trade up to seven with the Titans and draft Daniels or Maye. I know this scenario is a long shot but it is intriguing, your thoughts. - Kevin Patterson

Definitely a long shot but I love these kinds of hypotheticals because there are no right and wrong answers. Nobody knows for sure how the players will come off the board, and it's plausible that the Patriots could take Harrison and leave a quarterback available. If that were to happen, I believe there would be a lot of teams clamoring to move up, however, which could create a bidding war. It's also possible that Arizona could take a quarterback at 4, even if they decided to hang on to Kyler Murray, which they've said they plan to do. If they don't want a QB, then the Cardinals would be in prime position to move down to the highest bidder. If the Patriots wanted to get involved in a trade for a quarterback in the top 10, then I don't see why they wouldn't just take that player at No. 3 rather than losing significant resources to get a player they passed on. If the scenario taking Harrison involved a trade up from the second round to grab a quarterback late in the first (Michael Penix, J.J. McCarthy, Bo Nix, etc.) then maybe that would make some sense. But if Jerod Mayo and his personnel department wanted Daniels or Maye badly enough to cough up multiple picks, then the move would be to take him at 3.

Patriots running back Kevin Harris (36).
Patriots running back Kevin Harris (36).

Anytime Kevin Harris has been given a chance he has produced with hard running. And the end of this year he made a few quality catches out of the backfield as well. He played in the best college conference in the country - the SEC. Why was it so hard for him to get off the practice squad and be active this year? He looks like a good back to me. - Peter Talbot

Harris has displayed some flashes of ability when given the chance but I wouldn't say he's done that consistently. He finished the season with 16 carries for 65 yards, and 18 of those yards came on his lone touchdown run. That means he averaged just 3.1 yards per carry on his remaining 15 attempts. And you are correct that he came up with a big catch-and-run, picking up 48 yards on a screen in Buffalo. But that was one of just three catches he had, so to suggest he's been productive anytime he's been given a chance is quite misleading. He was basically productive on two of his 19 touches, which accounted for 66 of the 123 total yards he managed. That said, I share your thoughts on Harris' usage. I felt he should have been an option for the active roster before Rhamondre Stevenson's injury and I thought it was strange that it took so long for the promotion. He did show some issues with ball security as a rookie, and at times during the summer at training camp. Perhaps the coaches weren't comfortable giving him a bigger role as a result. But Harris does have some promise and should be given a chance to earn the role of Stevenson's backup during the offseason and into camp, even if the team decided to retain Ezekiel Elliott.

I've seen lots of talk of people wanting to go out and sign a big-name free agent wide receiver and I would love it if the Patriots could do that. However, I wonder if they'll be able to. Other than having a lot of money to throw at them, what do the Patriots really have to offer? We don't know who their quarterback will be, their offensive line is a mess and they have very little talent at any of the skill positions to take pressure off of any potential free agent signings. Not to mention they play outside in a cold environment and are not in a big city. As such I think the best option is to build up their roster this year by prioritizing their own free agents where possible with maybe one or two big signings from outside the organization. - Cory Palmer

I agree that luring big-name free agents won't be easy, but you do gloss over the most important factor when it comes to landing them in the first place: money. The Patriots will have plenty of cash to spend and in most cases that is the deciding factor when it comes to signing big-name players. If you pay them, they will come – even if there are plenty of questions. I feel this is especially true at wide receiver, a position that features many players with huge egos looking to make their mark in terms of salary. That's not always the case, but generally wide receivers feel they can make offenses and quarterbacks look better, and therefore they want to get paid to showcase their skills. I don't believe the Patriots have many priority free agents in house that need to be re-signed. Maybe Mike Onwenu or Hunter Henry given the lack of depth at those positions. But otherwise the team isn't going to improve simply by retaining players off a 4-13 team. Now, I wouldn't go hog wild spending in free agency like they did in 2021. In most cases that has proven to be a quick fix and doesn't generally last very long. But the Patriots should be interested in adding a couple of quality players in addition to working hard to reverse their recent draft woes in order to jumpstart the rebuilding process behind a new coaching staff. Lots of work to be done, and the best way to go about it would be to explore and use every avenue to get there.

Unless I missed it, why isn't anyone talking about trading down from 3 to 9 for Justin Fields and an additional pick or picks? The Bears are reported to be seeking a second-ish for Fields but the move from 3 to 9 is worth more, and we'd still be able to get an additional impact player at that spot (Brock Bowers would be my pick). The Bears would likely be interested in Marvin Harrison Jr. to pair with the quarterback they pick at 1, so they may even overpay for the third pick. - Max DiPlotti

I think there have been a lot of people suggesting the Patriots should trade down but you may the first one that I've seen bringing this particular trade to the table. Moving from 3 to 9 makes some sense for the Patriots assuming they could get Fields plus a bunch of picks. Otherwise I'd rather just give up a second- or third-round pick to get Fields if that's the direction the Patriots wanted to go. Sliding down six spots is a lot for Fields so the Bears would need to be willing to cough up a lot in return. Honestly, if I were in Chicago's shoes I'd rather keep Fields and take Harrison myself rather than losing a bunch of picks to take a rookie quarterback instead. But Chicago's intentions at the top of the draft will be one of the most intriguing elements to monitor in the weeks ahead.

Of all the possible quarterback solutions available to the Patriot, which seems most reasonable given their stated goal to improve the position? A) Kick the tires on someone they previously were linked to from previous drafts such as Baker Mayfield or Zach Wilson? B) Bring in a veteran such as Kirk Cousins or Justin Fields? If they brought in a few guys they could have a competition and use our premium pick on a generational type wide receiver or trade back to get more assets later such as a top tackle or tight end where the value might fit better. - Armchair GM

Welcome aboard, Armchair GM … don't we all fall into that category after all! I found it interesting that none of your options include selecting a quarterback with the third overall pick. I would definitely favor that approach over the veterans you bring up. I would possibly be interested in Justin Fields if he becomes available as I'm intrigued by his skill set while acknowledging that it hasn't really come together for him as of yet. But if Drake Maye is available at No. 3 that's the direction I would go. If he's not, then perhaps a trade down like you suggested would make some sense. But I also could be convinced to take a shot on Daniels as well.

If the Patriots hire a McVay assistant to be OC, do you think they will overhaul the offense with personnel that are more applicable to this type of offense? - Chong Chow

Even though this came in before the Patriots announced the hiring of Alex Van Pelt, I left it in because it's still worth discussing. I don't think the players needed to run different systems vary all that much to what most teams have in terms of ability and style. Kendrick Bourne, as an example, came from San Francisco in the Shanahan/McVay scheme and was able to be productive in the old Patriots offense. Talented players can mostly adapt to whatever system they're asked to perform in. Obviously the Patriots will need to find more talent across the board on offense because the unit lacks playmakers at all levels. I guess one could make an argument that the offensive linemen needed in such a system would be more mobile and athletic than the huge road graders, but again most have the ability to adapt. Bottom line is the Patriots need to find a lot of players to add to the offense regardless of the schemes that Van Pelt plans to employ.

Under the new leadership, do you think the Patriots will dial back the Moneyball approach and be determined to retain the players they drafted and did an outstanding job developing into stars (some even as undrafted rookie free agents) rather than letting them go to become successful long-term starters with other teams (too many to mention) rather than subsequently overpaying for free agents that don't fit in as well as the departed? - Brian Fiedler

Are the Patriots that cheap with contracts and who is or was the fault for that? When Robert Kraft was doing a press conference, I believe that it was the separate one after the joint one with Bill, that he said that Bill had the money whenever he asked for it. So, it seemed that it was passing the not wanting to pay money on contracts comment on to Bill? It seems strange that he made that comment, and that Mayo saying we have cash to burn. - Rob Feander

I don't quite understand what the Moneyball approach is with regard to making decisions to overpaying free agents to replace drafted players. Moneyball is more of an economically-based philosophy of trying to structure things to save money and spreading out the cash among several players rather than finding one great player to pay. In that regard I don't see how overpaying free agents, as you said, fits into that mentality. I believe the Patriots have made some mistakes when it comes to roster moves in recent years. The most glaring one in my view was letting Jakobi Meyers go to sign JuJu Smith-Schuster for basically the same money ($1 million difference). A Moneyball approach would have been signing two players for the price it would have taken to retain Meyers. Belichick made a mistake in my view not re-signing Meyers, who was the more proven player in the Patriots system. And to lose him over next to nothing is on the coach, not the organization. If the difference was $20 million, then I'd be more willing to look at the team for not paying the price. The Patriots felt Smith-Schuster was a better player and therefore made the move. I disagreed at the time and obviously things didn't work out well in 2023 with regard to that move. That wasn't a case of not wanting to spend the money. They spent plenty of it … just on the wrong player in my view. Over the years the Patriots have had some success knowing when to move on from players and also have struggled with some of those decisions. In general, the Moneyball attitude has served the team well but like anything else it can't be an all-or-nothing approach. Decisions need to be made on a case-by-case basis and hopefully that will be the way it's done under Mayo's regime. We shall see.

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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