The New England Patriots have turned a major page in their history. Their winningest era is over and former top man, Bill Belichick is no longer around. Owner Robert Kraft has made his decision and the only course now is to look ahead to the future.
A new personnel head guy from outside would have been the choice here for a fresh perspective. Regardless, someone, perhaps Elliot Wolf will be making the decisions. The good news is, he has lots of ways to be successful. He's also the son of a Hall of Fame General Manager, Ron Wolf.
Wolf learned from one of the best. Patriot Nation will be in business if he can replicate that great decision-making. Three major reasons, among others, why Mr. Wolf is well-situated will be pointed out. All three will aid the new Patriots personnel chief in his decision-making.
The New England Patriots have multiple offensive needs and players are available to fill them
The Patriots have needs all over the offense. The good news is that their positions of need are well-stocked in the draft. The team needs a new quarterback. One of the top three will be available if they pick third overall. There are other solid options later on, as well.
Whether it be Caleb Williams of USC, Drake Maye of UNC, or Jayden Daniels of LSU, any of the top three would be a great pick. In addition, others such as Michael Penix Jr. of Washington, Bo Nix of Oregon, and J. J. McCarthy of Michigan, will be available later on in the draft. They could also excel.
No one has a crystal ball to see who'll work out or flop. The draft is a gamble; maybe that's why many fans love it. Yet, you have the highest chance of success if you draft consensus players where they should be drafted.
At offensive tackle, another great need; you also have top options. One of the two best will be available either at pick No. 3 or maybe even later after a slight trade-down. The top two are Joe Alt of Notre Dame and Olu Fashanu of Penn State. There are other top players available both in the first and later rounds who are also solid options.
Another huge need is wide receiver. There you have the amazing Marvin Harrison Jr. of Ohio State, who towers above the rest. Yet, other top-of-the-draft types like Malik Nabors of Washington and Rome Odunze from Washington exist. And choices abound even later on in the draft. And then, of course, there is tight end Brock Bowers from Georgia, maybe the best player in the entire draft. Take any of the above, and "Go ahead, make my day"! The players the Pats need are everywhere in this draft.
The Pats have top picks in virtually every round, and hopefully have learned from past mistakes
The Patriots' good fortune is they have not only the third pick in the draft but top picks in every round. They have picks 3, 34, 68, 103, 135, 181, and 228. All of the team's own picks are high up in every round. Optimists can feel that they are just slightly down from the higher round. And they'd be right. This is a huge positive for whoever makes the Pats' draft room choices. (Unfortunately, Nike, Bill Belichick's canine pal, will likely be absent.)
Finally, the third major reason this draft looks promising is that a new man, probably the aforementioned Elliot Wolf, will be in charge. He'll be acutely aware that it's incumbent on him not to replicate Belichick's mistakes. (Hopefully, it's just one top man; two is counter-productive.)
On too many occasions, whether at Bill Belichick's behest or whoever's, players were selected far higher than they should have been (aka "reaches"), and the results were predictably poor. Take an average guard like Cole Strange in the first round in 2022, and you'll miss. Take a wide receiver like Tyquan Thornton in the second, and you'll go astray. Neither was projected anywhere nearly as high as where they were drafted. Don't make those same mistakes.
To further emphasize the validity of this supposition, look no further than the first two picks of 2023, Christian Gonzalez of Oregon and Keion White of Georgia Tech. Both were consensus top players in the draft! They selected them right where they should have been, or even lower! They both played well. After that, the team went off the rails, reached for several picks, and paid the price. The simple suggestion is to repeat the Gonzalez/White patterns in every round in 2024.
There is no guarantee that even consensus picks will work out, even if you take them all right where they should be selected. That's the nature of the draft. You never know. However, chances for success are magnified if you just stay within the norm. Conversely, going outside consensus drafting invites disaster.
Those are three reasons Patriot Nation should be optimistic about the 2024 draft. All indications are that it could be a defining one that sets the foundation for a winning team in a couple of years. The simple advice is to do the right thing. You never go wrong when you do.