Patriots are favored to land under-the-radar QB in latest mock drafts by experts

Vrbo Fiesta Bowl - Michigan v TCU
Vrbo Fiesta Bowl - Michigan v TCU / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

Because of the situation the Patriots are in at the halfway point of the 2023 season, plus the number of people out there straight-up obsessed with looking ahead to the next NFL draft, experts have already begun putting together several mock drafts to predict what players will land where in the first round.

The Patriots currently sit with the fourth overall selection, their highest pick in decades. It opens the door for way more choices for Bill Belichick and Co., meaning they could potentially take a game-changing wide receiver or perhaps their next franchise QB if Mac Jones is determined not to be the guy.

Since they could really upgrade several positions on the team, like offensive tackle, quarterback, and wide receiver, all the picks follow that guideline. But what's become the most interesting among the mock drafts are the two clear favorites to land in New England.

Some picks will not please Patriots fans, with several voicing their desire to see guys like Drake Maye or Marvin Harrison Junior head to Foxboro next year. But it's hard to disagree with some of these picks by the experts, as many of them would certainly be upgrades over the current roster.

ProFootballNetwork: J.J. McCarthy, QB, Michigan

Trade: Patriots receive pick No. 3, Bears receive pick No. 5, pick No. 36, and 2025 second-round pick.

"It’s a gamble passing on Marvin Harrison Jr. to trade down, but the Bears’ roster needs a lot of work, and as good as Harrison is, there are five WRs in PFN’s current top 15.

That top-end depth factors into the Bears’ decision to take this risk, but they’re not moving down too far. Meanwhile, the Patriots traded up to take Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy.

McCarthy has grown more disciplined and composed in the pocket, and he’s a superb athlete with an extremely elastic arm, which he uses to capitalize on seam opportunities."

Touchdown Wire: Olumuyiwa Fashanu, OT, Penn State

Bleacher Report: Caleb Williams, QB, USC

"The New England Patriots spent the last four seasons without Tom Brady completely rudderless.

The mystique of the previous dynasty is long gone. The lack of talent found on the roster is startling. The coaching staff's overall ineptitude has been clearly on display. The Patriots are now an afterthought. Questions about Bill Belichick's status with the organization have even arisen.

The NFL has always been a "what have you done lately" league. Well, the Patriots are 27-32 since the start of the 2020 campaign, including a 2-7 start to this season. Something drastic needs to be done. The solution just may fall into their lap if they hold a top-five selection.

To reiterate B/R's earlier stance on Williams and where he currently sits in the evaluation process:

"He's still an awesome player, of course," Klassen said previously. "His arm talent and elasticity are rare. He's also got a killer instinct outside the pocket that many of the league's best quarterbacks do.

"With that said, Williams comes with some clear risks. The 6'1", 215-pound prospect is on the smaller end of the scale and he isn't a consistent down-to-down operator right now."

Maybe the Heisman Trophy winner isn't perfect, but he's definitely a massive upgrade over Mac Jones."

Sports Illustrated: J.J. McCarthy, QB, Michigan

"Mac Jones has had his moments of serviceable play, but the Pats need a difference-maker at the game's most important position. McCarthy is a well-rounded passer who is accurate and makes good decisions with the ball, and brings added value with his athleticism that Jones doesn't have."

CBS Sports: Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia

"New England would probably take one of the top quarterback prospects if given the opportunity but instead the Patriots take a blue-chip prospect in Brock Bowers."

ProFootballFocus: Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame

"The Patriots could target a quarterback here, but unless they are in a position to pick Caleb Williams or Drake Maye, it seems more likely they go the route of a veteran quarterback and build out the offensive line and receiver room during the draft. New England invests in the trenches here with Alt, a massive 6-foot-8 offensive tackle prospect who boasts an elite overall grade in 2023."

Draft Wire: Olu Fashanu, OT, Penn State

"Fashanu appears to be the high-floor, high-ceiling type of player the Patriots desperately need across the roster. Taking a premium offensive tackle is a safe projection across any potential change at head coach or quarterback, both of which have been rumored for New England."

The 33rd Team: Keon Coleman, WR, Florida State

"While many would like to see a quarterback taken here, the New England Patriots have a lot to repair on their roster outside of the position, and adding dynamic play-maker Keon Coleman would be a step in the right direction. New England has lacked juice on offense, and Coleman was built in a lab to be a quarterback and offensive coordinator’s best friend.

Whether it’s Mac Jones or someone else going forward at quarterback, having a 6-foot-4, 215-pound wideout with an extraordinary catch radius and play-making ability will ease the pressure on whoever is running New England’s offense."

RotoBaller: Olu Fashanu, OT, Penn State

"One of the best true left tackle prospects we have seen in quite some time, Fashanu is in consideration for the Bears at No. 3 overall and the Patriots are happy to land him here. While this team does have some serious QB issues of their own, as well as not having enough difference-making skill players on offense, the Patriots' offensive line also hasn't been as potent in recent years either. Fashanu has yet to allow a sack in his college career at Happy Valley. True to the offensive strength of this draft class, we see 5 offensive players go in the first 5 picks."

CBS Sports: J.J. McCarthy, QB, Michigan

"The Patriots net a 2025 second-round pick, a 2024 fourth-round pick and Baron Browning in this trade (with the Broncos) and still land a talented quarterback prospect inside the top 10."

Yahoo Sports: Olu Fashanu, OT, Penn State

Walter Football: Keon Coleman, WR, Florida State

"Mac Jones sucks, but the Patriots aren’t in a position to land a franchise quarterback. They’ll likely take a signal-caller with the next pick. They can use this selection to bolster their incredibly weak receiving corps.

Keon Coleman is a massive receiver with quickness and good ball skills."