2 reasons why fans shouldn't expect miracles from Patriots in 2024 Draft

Eliot Wolf could be headed for another dreaded D grade in this offseason.
NFL Combine
NFL Combine / Stacy Revere/GettyImages

Bill Belichick muffed the 2023 New England Patriots season before it even began. First, he neglected to sign a top free-agent offensive tackle or two. Then, he neglected to draft even one OT in his 12-player, mostly poor (after the top 2 selections, a punter, and a precocious smaller wide receiver) draft overall.

Belichick's scrap heap free agency pick-ups and also his affinity for keeping around players, especially high draft picks, who underperformed (if they performed at all) led to his unceremonious (the phony press conference at Gillette Stadium notwithstanding) dismissal from his duties at Gillette Stadium.

Now owner Robert Kraft has placed an untested general manager in charge to oversee the most critical and challenging offseason in 30 years. Kraft put a ridiculous situation in place for the
neophyte Eliot Wolf. Take the reigns of my billions of dollars franchise, and please put it back together was the request. Who makes that sort of mind-numbing decision-making?

Oh, it is the guy who allowed Tom Brady to skedaddle; ah, point well taken. So we now have an untested, "de facto" general manager in charge, one who learned from Belichick (a poor GM) and his dad, a Hall of Fame pro football executive. What's to expect from Wolf in the draft, and why is it entirely possible for him to mess it up? We'll explore here.

Wolf's retaining Belichick's underachievers is a poor signal

Free agency is now active. Wolf has played the Belichick card by re-signing several overpaid and/or underperforming players who were part of the Belichick regime and added little or not enough to the team's success. More properly stated, they've contributed to the lack of success since Tom Brady left the scene in 2020.

That dynamic is especially troubling. Belichick was wont to keep players around who were high draft picks but never or at least seldom demonstrated they were worthy of those lofty picks. It made him look bad, don't you know? Now, following in one of his mentor's footsteps, Wolf is treading down the same unproductive path.

Now, since owner Robert Kraft has put Wolf in charge of the entire personnel operation, for now (another odd situation, indeed), it would seem to behoove Wolf, in light of Belichick's abrupt departure, to deviate as much as possible from the former's modus operandi.

Instead, Wolf has kept around free-agent players who were inconsistent at best, like Josh Uche, Kendrick Bourne, Anfernee Jennings, and to a lesser extent, Hunter Henry, instead of treading his own path and finding, as in scouting, for better players elsewhere—same old same old there.

Wolf must to blaze his own path in the draft, not anyone else's

With free agency having mixed results, the draft looms even more important during the season-making offseason for the New England Patriots. If you mess up between April and May, you mess up for the season. It is what it is in the NFL and really in all team sports. Good teams and championship teams are fashioned in the offseason.

Eliot Wolf started well but has tailed off in free agency. Now, the draft looms ever larger for him to carve out a future for the team and himself in the team's plans. Flop this season, and it's probably game over. The minimum requirement is an improvement, a significant improvement.

Wolf has to go offense-heavy in this draft, especially after picking at the margins on offense in free agency. He's yet to sign any true stars for a listless offense that failed miserably to score points. Rather than going after top players, he's taken a page out of Belichick's book and spent a significant amount of the team's cap space on mediocre players. It's not a great sign.

In the draft, however, Wolf has a chance to take a different approach, go heavy, early and often, on offensive skill players and offensive tackles, and right the ship. The offensive tackle situation was a disaster of the highest order for the Patriots in 2023. It doomed the season before it began due to Belichick's lackluster free agency signings and non-attention whatsoever to the position in the team's 12-player draft. It helped occasion his dismissal.

Wolf's dad, Hall of Fame NFL Executive Ron Wolf, had this to say as cited by nesn.com about the Patriots' first pick, the third pick overall in the 2024 draft, “I would go with the best player available,” Ron Wolf told The Boston Globe’s Christopher Price in a piece published Friday."

That's excellent advice unless Eliot thinks that pick is on defense. He needs a quarterback, the best available, and that's the advisable variation of that theme not only for the third pick overall but for most if not all of the team's draft picks. They should concentrate on the best player available for their lousy offense. Period. Doing otherwise is a prescription for last place, again.

Eliot Wolf has a chance to carve out a longer-term position for himself with the New England Patriots. His first efforts have been so-so. Maybe in later free agency, he'll pick up steam. But in the final analysis, it may come down to the all-important 2024 NFL draft for both Wolf and the Patriots. It may be his last chance to get things right or at least to move in the right direction.

We'll see if he makes the right choices.

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