Jim Harbaugh's NFL Draft prediction would be great news for the Patriots

Rose Bowl Game - Alabama v Michigan
Rose Bowl Game - Alabama v Michigan / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

The consensus regarding the position the Patriots should select in the first round of the upcoming draft says it's quarterback or bust. Although they could get their hands on a potential generational wide receiver talent in Marvin Harrison Jr., most feel they must take their next signal-caller due to their draft positioning and desperate need for a franchise player.

With the third overall pick, their current selection is said to be between Jayden Daniels, Drake Maye, and Caleb Williams, two of whom are presumed to be off the board by the time the Patriots pick. But because the rankings can change between now and the draft, new Chargers head coach Jim Harbaugh believes an under-the-radar player will become the first quarterback taken.

During an appearance on FS1's "The Herd" earlier this week, the returning NFL coach shared his take on who the best quarterback of the incoming class is. And although it's likely filled with bias, given he's coming off a nine-year stint as the head coach of Michigan, his assessment may be proven not to be entirely out of the question come April.

“Arm talent, athleticism, ‘it’ factor, winning with numbing repetition. Don’t be surprised if, when he’s the No. 1 quarterback off the board. That’s my prediction right now.”

“When people get a load of J.J. and how he can throw the ball, how he spins it, his athleticism, his intelligence. Talk about ‘it’ factor, he’s got it. The competitiveness that he has, and they get around him, and they really start digging in, and they start talking to him, yeah, that’s an early prediction for the 2024 NFL Draft.”

As one of the Heisman Trophy finalists and the quarterback who led the Wolverines to a National title this year, J.J. McCarthy may slide into the first round after his performance in the combine. Currently, he's considered a high second-rounder, along with Oregon's Bo Nix and Washington's Michael Penix Jr.

But as it is every year, rankings and evaluations drastically change in the months leading to the draft.

Whether that means McCarthy will magically rise to be the first quarterback off the board when Williams has been that guy for months seems unlikely. However, a quarterback-needy team may see his value and not want to wait until day two to take him.

Or if we play along with Harbaugh's prediction, if the Bears or Commanders decide to take McCarthy with the first or second picks, the Patriots would have more options once they're on the clock. It could mean players deemed out of their reach, like Williams, would still be on the board.

It could also mean New England has another quarterback to consider outside of the top-ranked that has been their only option until now. McCarthy could be the right guy for the job over Daniels, Maye, or Williams, so his moving up the rankings could also benefit them.

He was once the quarterback that analysts had mock-drafted to the Patriots, so maybe it was a bit of foreshadowing that we're just now seeing come to fruition.

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