Former Patriot reveals harsh reality of New England's draft fate

New England Patriots Introduce Jerod Mayo as Head Coach
New England Patriots Introduce Jerod Mayo as Head Coach / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages

As the Patriots' 2023 season unfolded, it was apparent to everyone that the following offseason would be a make-it-or-break-it time for the franchise's future. Bill Belichick was under more pressure at the time since the team had failed in three of the last four seasons, and he wasn't just the head coach but also the general manager.

That pressure has since shifted to Jerod Mayo, and most of the reason for that remains the same, with just a little less finalization if the year doesn't necessarily look as good as we hoped.

However, the only reason he is getting some of that leniency is due to his inexperience in the role, and most first-year head coaches are allowed some time to get their feet wet before being put on the chopping block.

Even with that in mind, though, how the offseason continues will provide some clues into how the higher-ups in the organization are viewing Mayo's start as the replacement of Belichick. He will need to have a free agency viewed in high regard, which PFF has already graded highly for their signings so far.

But the most challenging task of all will be nailing next month's draft, especially with the need for the next franchise quarterback being the primary focus after shipping Mac Jones to the Jaguars.

Former Patriot reveals harsh reality of New England's draft fate

That expectation is surely not lost on Mayo, who is very aware of the trust he has been given by being New England's first new head coach in nearly a quarter century.

On top of that, Robert Kraft was so confident giving him the keys that they didn't even interview any other candidates, despite the calls for guys like Mike Vrabel to be the next man up.

Although many feel optimistic about what Mayo could do for the team, it's hard to ignore the significant implications of his decisions for his and the team's future.

It's a point that his former teammate Rob Ninkovich mentioned when speaking to ESPN's Mike Reiss recently, as he emphasized how detrimental what they do in the draft will determine their fate for the next few years.

“The biggest thing to me is that no matter what they did, it’s the draft that is going to make or break their offseason. This could be a home run. At the same time, the scary part is that if they draft a quarterback at No. 3, and he’s not the guy, they’re in major trouble.”

Any coach needing to implement a winning culture back into their team would be expected to be in a similar position as Mayo, with pressure mounting to make the right moves. But because the Patriots have already dealt with an expected but discouraging downward spiral since Tom Brady left four years ago, it's fair to assume there will be even more riding on who they pick as the next quarterback.

And Ninkovich is spot on about the consequences of choosing the wrong guy, which some could say was Belichick's downfall for choosing Mac Jones and not developing him properly.

Mayo witnessed the entire situation firsthand, which should play to his benefit.

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