5 players the Patriots should trade back into the first round for

Georgia v Georgia Tech
Georgia v Georgia Tech / Todd Kirkland/GettyImages

Even if Eliot Wolf says people are underestimating their offense, the Patriots have three problems they must address high in the 2024 Draft. The problem is that they only have two picks in the top 67. As heavily laden with talent as this class is, most stars will be gone by the time they're on the clock again.

All signs point toward them taking a quarterback with the third overall pick. If that does happen, they will need more first-round talent to help their young signal caller. Trading back into the first round will be expensive, but that’s the price of years of neglect.

If Wolf wants a team that actually competes in the AFC East this year, he needs to perform a miracle in Detroit. 

Assuming the Patriots take a quarterback in Round 1, they will need someone to protect a rookie QB later in the first round. Or a star receiver who can catch passes thrown by a youngster playing “chuck and duck” football behind a dodgy offensive line.  

5 players the Patriots should trade back into the first round for

JC Latham – OT, Alabama 

Latham played 27 games for the Crimson Tide and was on the winning team 23 times! He’s not perfect, as he drew 18 penalties in his two years at Alabama. But he only allowed two sacks through two seasons.

His size and weight (6'6", 342 lbs.) might make him less appealing to some teams since there has been a recent trend towards lighter, more agile tackles protecting the quarterback. But both Patriots’ tackles were over 350 lbs. in 2023, so Latham is technically still a lightweight option. 

He won’t turn 22 until the 2024 season is over, either, so he still has some growing to do and will only improve as he matures. Latham is predicted to be drafted anywhere between the 9th and 21st pick. 

Amarius Mims – OT, Georgia 

Mims is another elite prospect at left tackle. He’s probably the most physically gifted tackle in this class. Mims is 6 feet 8 inches tall and weighs 340 lbs. He has the biggest wingspan in the class and is in the 94th percentile for hand size. He’s more mobile than one of the biggest men in the draft should be too.

Mims’ Combine performance scored him 9.69 out of 10 on the RAS scale, proving he's impressively athletic for the position. That’s the 58th-highest score of 1,377 tackles who have tested in the last 37 years. 

One thing that makes Mims a riskier pick than Latham is that he only played in 21 games at college—but Georgia only lost one of those games! Mims is the same age as Latham, though, so he could grow even more! He still has plenty of time to develop, too. Mims is projected as the 23rd overall pick, but his size and athleticism intrigue many teams. 

Kingsley Suamataia – OT, BYU 

Suamataia might be available when the Patriots pick in the second round. But he shouldn’t be. He could be the most underrated prospect in the draft (along with Devontez Walker).  Suamataia is another 21-year-old tackle prospect who only played in 21 games at BYU. But he only allowed two sacks in those 21 games.

The BYU alum isn’t as tall as Latham or Sims, but he's hardly short at 6 feet 5 inches tall and weighs 326 lbs. So Suamataia is one inch shorter and one pound heavier than Lane Johnson. If he can be half as good as Johnson, he’ll have a fine career.

He ran a 5.04-second 40-yard dash, which ranked him in the 88th percentile of his class, and his broad jump was in the 86th. Suamataia projects to be the 36th pick, but one mock has the Cowboys taking him at 32.

Brian Thomas Jr. - WR, LSU 

Thomas Jr. is the Marvin Harrison Jr. of the lower first round. He is 6 feet 3 inches tall and ran a 4.33 second 40-yard time at the combine. Xavier Worthy was the only receiver who ran faster.

Some analysts have concerns regarding his route running (or lack thereof). But in a Patriots offense, that will be more free-form jazz than a classical symphony, and that sort of technicality shouldn’t matter.

As a senior, the former LSU receiver led the FBS with 17 touchdown receptions. That’s some major production from someone with a few technical flaws. He’s projected to go anywhere between the 12th pick and the 32nd. 

Troy Franklin – WR, Oregon 

Franklin didn’t perform well at the Combine, but the 25 touchdown receptions he racked up in three years at Oregon prove his quality. He’s not the biggest receiver in this class but his acceleration allows him to get separation, even in press coverage.

Franklin may take time to adjust to NFL defenses, but even if he doesn’t get the ball, he still has the speed to stretch defenses. That would open extra space for the pass catchers operating on short or medium routes, who figure to be the guys who get the most looks in the Patriots' offense. Franklin projects to be taken anywhere between 26 and the 37th pick. 

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