How the Patriots and the Chargers could shake up the first round of the draft 

Jan 1, 2024; Pasadena, CA, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh (left) congratulates
Jan 1, 2024; Pasadena, CA, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh (left) congratulates / Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Chargers have torched their offense to save money. Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Gerald Everett, and Austin Ekeler have all left California. But If they want to save $56 million quickly, they could get rid of Justin Herbert. That would infuriate about 99% of the Chargers fan base, but they’re not the ones trying to balance the books.

In addition to the huge amount of money they are due to pay Herbert this season, his current contract sees him make $60 million next year! Of course, they’ll need a new quarterback if they do that. 

Although, to be honest, if Jim Harbaugh has watched much Easton Stick tape, he probably already fancies drafting a quarterback.

And that’s where the Patriots come in. New Chargers coach Jim Harbaugh has just spent the last three seasons coaching JJ McCarthy at Michigan. And, according to Mark Schlereth, McCarthy is the most pro-ready quarterback in the draft. Even the staunchest Chargers fan can’t argue that Herbert has advanced the Chargers since he took over from Phillip Rivers.

Rivers had a 123-101 career record, or a 54.9% win ratio. Herbert has a 30-32 record, or a 48.4% win ratio. So, a new head coach may well consider a new quarterback. 

If the Chargers are serious about acquiring the Patriots' third overall pick, they’ll need to make a substantial offer, though. Their fifth overall pick and a future second-round pick should be the minimum offer the Patriots consider. But if the Chargers add their fifth-round pick, the 139th overall, to the package, that should seal the deal. 

If the first three picks of the draft are Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, and JJ McCarthy, then the Patriots will still be able to draft Jayden Daniels. He’ll just have to learn to love the weather in the northeast.

They could even take Joe Alt at five. He seems to be the consensus pick when it comes to the lineman with the best chance of a long and successful NFL career.  And whoever the Patriots’ quarterback is in 2024 will need to have an elite left tackle. 

It’s the 139th pick that is the most interesting, though. EDGE defenders Grayson Murphy and Brennan Jackson will be available. So will linebacker Jaylan Ford, who is one of the strongest tacklers in the class, and Penn State tight end Theo Johnson. 

Grayson Murphy is firmly in the shadow of UCLA teammate Laiatu Latu, but he shouldn’t be. Murphy and his twin brother Gabriel amassed 13 sacks in their senior year. And they combined for 25 tackles for a loss, Grayson had nine. He will be a vital part of an NFL defense in 2024. 

Brennan Jackson is a sort of undersized defensive tackle. He’s 6 feet 4 inches tall and 255 lbs. And loves to take on blockers. He can really gum up the middle of an offensive line, making it difficult for running backs. His relentless nature allows linebackers and pass rushers a clear path to the quarterback.

The Patriots were hoping to get that from Keion White in 2023, but he looks like more of a long-term project. 

And Theo Johnson is 6 feet 6 inches, 259 lbs—tight end who would be a great understudy to Hunter Henry. The 23-year-old Canadian was in the top 98% at the combine with a 39.5-inch standing jump. He was in the top 95% for broad jump, the top 93% for his 10-yard split, and his 4.57 second 40-yard dash time was in the top 92%. That’s what you call smashing the draft. 

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