The New England Patriots mercifully did not mess up their own draft by winning meaningless games at the tail end of their worst season in decades. Now, after lots of stumbling and bumbling, a new era has begun in Foxborough. After jettisoning Bill Belichick, owner Robert Kraft hired an untested but still very highly-regarded new Head Coach, Jerod Mayo. And the early returns are very favorable.
Mayo has gone outside the comfortable Belichick coaching tree and selected two coordinators who are fresh to bring new ideas to this flat-bottomed franchise. The most significant of whom is Offensive Coordinator Alex Van Pelt, a never-been member of the Belichick "tree."
No matter the ultimate result, Mayo's selection shows a refreshing change of direction, one of tremendous need in Foxborough. Hats off to Jerod for having the foresight and acumen to do what needed to be done in the area that most needed it. Huzzah!
The 2024 draft is a major test of the post-Belichick personnel operation
Now, the task ahead is to have an offseason that rebuilds an offense that is listless, unproductive, and without direction. That task will seemingly be handed to active participants in Belichick's ineffectual personnel policies. Whatever, the hope is that unshackled by Belichick's lack of especially drafting skill, the conductor(s) of this offseason will get the job done.
The New England Patriots have the third pick in the 2024 NFL draft. It's their highest pick since 1993 and an opportunity of the highest magnitude. The team can ill-afford to botch it and may find it hard to do. But since this is still Belichick's personnel team, and anything is possible.
Theories and mock drafts abound most of which have the Patriots selecting a quarterback with the third pick, or the top wide receiver on the board, Marvin Harrison Jr., or even an offensive left tackle like Joe Alt of Notre Dame. They wouldn't be faulted here for any of these great picks, but there is another consensus option, and it involves a trade down of several picks.
This trade would be a blockbuster. Should the Patriots trade down a few picks to, say, pick 5 or 6, amass more selections for their rebuild, and take tight end Brock Bowers of Georgia, they will hit a proverbial home run. Here's why.
Patriots' selection of Brock Bowers would be brilliant
First, Bowers is the consensus best tight end in the draft and one of the best in a decade. Second, he's a consensus All-American and a top-10 pick anywhere you look. Third, the Patriot's tight end room is weak. The only player under contract is Pharoah Brown, a third tight end. Fourth, Bowers is a difference-maker and can't in any way be looked upon as anything but a consensus top pick in this draft. Thoughts or suggestions to the contrary should be dismissed out of hand.
Bowers may be a steal anywhere in the top 10 and could be the best player in this draft. As a 6'4" tall and 230-pounder, he's not the biggest tight end. But that lends to his versatility and value. He can be played all over the field. He's been uber-productive for a Georgia team that is a perennial National Championship contender. He's used to big games.
In his three seasons as a starter, Bowers amassed 175 catches for 2,538 yards and 26 touchdowns with an average of 14.5 yards per catch. That's first-down territory his entire career. The 2024 New England Patriots desperately need that. Add a No. 1 free agent wide receiver with similar skill, and the offense is on its way.
Bowers has won the coveted John Mackey Award as the best tight end in college football, not once but twice, for the first time. Nfldraftbuzz.com has this to say about the Bulldog,
"In the landscape of collegiate tight ends, most find their niche as complementary pieces. Bowers, however, possesses the attributes and skill set to be the cornerstone of an NFL franchise. His blocking acumen, paired with his dynamism as a pass catcher, sets him apart as the undisputed TE1 in his class. Such a distinction is not merely about his in-line abilities; it's about his potential to redefine the tight end position in the NFL. Drawing comparisons to elite prospects like Kyle Pitts, Bowers is already generating buzz as one of the most coveted players for the 2024 draft."
"Redefine the tight end position in the NFL." Volumes more can be written about the player. But suffice it to say, should the Patriots be bold and brilliant, trade down a few picks, and select Brock Bowers, then sit back and enjoy the rest of the NFL draft.
The New England Patriots will have already hit the draft jackpot and maybe even amassed more picks for their rebuild in the process. The Patriots have done quite well with great tight ends like Russ Francis, Ben Coates, and a certain Rob Gronkowski in the past, have they not? Bowers will fit in nicely with that group, and the Patriots will be all the better for it.