Patriots latest move suggests consideration of first-round trade down

NFL Combine
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We are currently amid several college Pro Days, with the Patriots ensuring they're well represented at all those with quarterbacks ready to be drafted this year. They have already attended LSU to see Jayden Daniels, Michigan's for J.J. McCarthy, and will be present for Drake Maye's at UNC on Thursday.

To this point, it has been all of the usual suspects, with the Patriots having met with mostly all of the projected first- to early second-round prospects. But one player they hadn't met with was Washington's Michael Penix Jr., who is considered one of the second-tier quarterbacks of this year's class.

That has changed recently, according to Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer, as a handful of New England staff will be at Penix Jr.'s Pro Day on Thursday.

It's an interesting plot twist, yet at the same time, it proves Jerod Mayo and Co. are doing their due diligence in evaluating every potential player they could draft in the first, in a trade down, or even early in the second.

Penix Jr. and Oregon's Bo Nix are expected to be second-round selections. They would be candidates for the Patriots if they choose to forgo a quarterback in the first round, which has been a rumor for several weeks. This seems to indicate they haven't eliminated the idea or the possibility of trading down with another quarterback-needy team, like the Vikings.

It certainly wouldn't be popular to pass on a quarterback with the third overall pick, but many have debated this scenario over the last few months.

There is an argument that the offense is not well prepared for a rookie quarterback to take over, and if the Patriots decided to do that, they'd be taking a risk similar to what the Panthers did in 2023 with Bryce Young.

Despite being the first overall pick in last year's draft, Carolina's failure to assemble a strong offense for the young player to immediately thrive upon is a cautionary tale. The Patriots could find themselves in a similar predicament with whichever quarterback they choose to draft this year, underscoring the urgent need to bolster the roster with significant talent.

So passing on a quarterback in round one would allow them to pick a highly touted receiver or tackle, positions of need almost as critical as quarterback.

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