The New England Patriots, as things stand, have the second pick in the 2024 NFL draft. As most would agree, when there are two top quarterbacks cited by conventional wisdom as the cream of the crop, and you need one, that ain't a bad spot to be in. For certain, it's a great place to be.
Two quarterbacks are above the others in the conventional pecking order, although others like Heisman Trophy winner Jayden Daniels of LSU would also be solid choices. The top two in question are Caleb Williams of USC and North Carolina's Drake Maye.
The strategy for most teams in this situation would be to no doubt take whoever is still on the board at pick two. The good thing is, you are guaranteed to have one available if you stay at pick No. 2. Another meaningless win or two, however, and that pick may drop and create a totally different, if not potentially opportunistic, dynamic.
Should the pick remain at two or one (as it should), the choice is fairly easy; you'd take one of the two and move on with your hopeful franchise quarterback in tow. Other than that, an alternative would be that you like a quarterback further down the perceived pecking order and choose to trade down and take your second most critical need, an offensive tackle.
New England Patriots interesting draft situation
Assuming the Patriots will select a quarterback high in the draft, what situation complicates the overall scenario for the team? That would be the offensive line and what it means to whomever you select at QB. Caleb Williams would be the better choice in light of the abysmal state of the Patriots' O-line at present.
Yet even the elusive Williams would presumably have difficulty staying on his feet with the current sieve-like line charged with protecting him. And that's where the age-old chicken/egg dilemma arises. Does it behoove the team, any team, to build the offense from the O-line-out (at least in prioritizing its picks), or is the most critical position on the field, the QB, an absolute first pick?
Students of Patriots history will know the team drafted the top college quarterback with the first pick in the 1971 NFL draft, Jim Plunkett. He would go on to win two Super Bowls, but with Oakland not in Foxborough. He was the victim of a terrible offensive line that made any progress essentially impossible.
Could or will the same happen to Williams or Maye if either comes to the Patriots with the line as currently constituted? The argument here is that WiIliams would be more suited to such a situation, though he has run little in 2023. Conversely, though he can run, Maye is more suited to a clean pocket and is truly effective therein.
What the New England Patriots should draft first, the chicken or the the egg
The strategy of drafting a QB first is complicated if the Pats fall to the third or later pick in the draft and both Williams and Maye are off the board. Then, an alternative strategy of shoring up the woefully needy offensive tackle position with a massive addition like Joe Alt of Notre Dame could make lots of sense.
The team could then either trade up for a quarterback or wait until early in the second round to get their man. This then opens the potential that the team gets the chicken to protect not only the quarterback but also the egg itself, their future QB in the second. Both are essential, but which to prioritize?
The thought here is clear: you take the egg first, the essential component and most important position on the team, the quarterback. Williams or Maye, if available, is selected. Should the pick be lower, however, or the team and its hopefully revamped draft operation think that another QB, later on, is as good or better, then the Pats have options. They can either take the bookend tackle with their top two pick or trade down slightly, get more picks, and take their top tackle in the first five picks.
This isn't rocket science, but it's not simple arithmetic, either. It's a major decision when you have a top-two pick in the NFL draft and need to draft a quarterback. It could be a tough choice for the Patriots. As much as offensive line play and the importance of the offensive tackles are appreciated here, the choice would be to draft Williams or Maye and then load up on tackles later. What would you do?