3 ways Eliot Wolf could botch the New England Patriots' 2024 draft

Wolf has great options but must avoid these pitfalls.

UCLA v USC / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

The New England Patriots have all kinds of ways to win the 2024 draft (on paper, at least), unlike the failing grades they've received for many past versions. New de facto general manager Eliot Wolf is on the hot seat. Wolf can hit big by doing two things as his foundational principles. First, draft consensus; second, take the best player available at positions of need. P

Interestingly, none other than his Hall of Fame NFL executive father suggests he should take the best player available, period. Wolf Sr. is an expert and one of the best ever. However, his advice, sage as it may be for the most part, is not suitable for the New England Patriots in the 2024 draft and the entire offseason, for that matter.

Wolf can botch the draft in three other key ways that could spell disaster for the Patriots' rebuild and his tenure as general manager. Let's explore these three and start with one that has been increasingly visible in the media of late, trading down.

The Patriots' Eliot Wolf must not trade out of the top seven picks.

Quantity is quantity, and quality is quality; having both is great, but having quality players is always the better option. The New England Patriots offense has no great players and just a couple/few (depending on free agency) good ones. It's not a pretty picture.

Wolf's goal is to draft at least one potentially great player, if not more. He has the third pick in the 2024 NFL draft to get it right. One of the top three quarterbacks, the fulcrum of any NFL team, will be available to him. Taking any of the three will meet the goal. Another tactic (though how can the quarterback not be the top priority?) could be to maybe trade down to accumulate more draft picks. Wolf's challenge is not trading down too far.

The top seven players in the 2024 draft are probably the following: Caleb Williams, QB, USC; Drake Maye, QB, UNC; Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU (hello, welcome to Foxborough!), Marvin Harrison Jr, wide receiver Ohio State, Joe Alt, offensive left tackle, Notre Dame, Olu Fashanu, offensive left tackle, Penn State, and Brock Bowers, tight end from Georgia.

While the list is (maybe) debatable, the thought here is if the New England Patriots land any of these top seven players, the draft is already an A draft. Ergo, Wolf should have a hard time messing things up. Should have. However, if his true mentor is Bill Belichick, all bets are off.

The assumption here is if the Patriots keep the third pick, one of the quarterbacks or Harrison will be the choice. If not, Wolf is starting to spin the roulette wheel a bit. However, if he trades down and accumulates additional 2024 picks (forget 2025), then again, any of the remaining players is also a ticket to an A draft at a minimum. They are all Day One starting players.

Wolf can mess things up by trading lower than seven. If you see that announced, start crying as we usually do. He'll have already blundered a la Bill B. and have printed his ticket out of town from South Station. Draft one of the seven, and it's a great beginning. That's all he has to do.

Wolf can mess up in two other major ways

Wolf has to draft consensus players and not reach and flop as Belichick did. (That goes without saying and is not one of the admonitions here.) If he hasn't learned that yet, it's hopeless from the start. He also can't do two other things to stay on course in the 2024 draft.

One is NOT to draft only the best offensive players available in the first five rounds. It's a variation on his dad's theme, but one that's critical to the 2024 success and beyond of the Patriots.

The Patriots' 2023 offense stunk. It has needs essentially everywhere with the possible exception of at guard. Draft the quarterback (first or second rounds!), and it's a great beginning. Draft a top offensive left tackle, and again, it's just fine. Bring in the best wide receiver and maybe another; it's superb. And draft a couple of tight ends, too, and that's a solid add right there, as well.

But if we see Wolf draft defense anywhere in the top four or even five rounds, he's out of bounds, and it will adversely impact the 2024 team.

The defense is good. Add a couple of free agents, e.g., defensive tackles and an edge, and it will be even better. But for the draft, it's the offense. There are too many needs on offense, and they must be filled. Not addressing them early and often in the draft is a prescription for continued disaster.

There is no season but 2024. That's all there is. Eliot Wolf has to act accordingly, and in this draft (and again, in free agency), he has to go offense first and throughout.

And finally, one additional thing Wolf can omit would be devastating to the 2024 season and beyond. That is if he does not take a quarterback with one of the Patriots' picks in the first two rounds. It can be either with pick No. 3 or in the top 7 if they trade down, or if not, no later than pick No. 34, the Pat's second-rounder.

Failure to do so will wreck this draft and indicate the most depressing thought of all that Wolf is indeed Belichick's protege, and as such, he has no idea of how to draft for an NFL team. No quarterback drafted high means no ability to immediately upgrade the Patriots' offense from the get-go.

It also means that some veterans will likely be brought in at a great cost, in either draft capital or free agency. It's time for the Pats to scout the draft's QBs and, once again, as in 2000, get it right.

These are three prescriptions of avoidance for new Pats de facto general manager Eliot Wolf. He'll be on his best behavior for owner Robert Kraft to see if he's the guy to run the operation in the future. Whether Kraft's decision to "experiment" with the ever-critical 2024 draft is a sound one or not is debatable. Whatever, the fact is, Wolf has to get this draft right. And if he avoids these three gaffes (and drafts consensus, a given), he might just do so.

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