Patriots Mock Draft Roundup: Next franchise quarterback is becoming clearer

North Carolina v Pittsburgh
North Carolina v Pittsburgh / G Fiume/GettyImages

Now that a whole week of free agency is over, it's looking increasingly like the Patriots are focused on taking their next franchise quarterback in the first round of the upcoming draft. That has been the assumption since they were awarded the third overall pick, but speculation continues to suggest they may be open to trading down to acquire more selections.

While any scenario remains on the table, New England's lack of movement in free agency seems to point more to their investing in selecting a quarterback. They already added old friend Jacoby Brissett on a one-year deal, presumably as the veteran bridge player and mentor.

That allows them to shift their focus to which quarterback they feel is the best fit and who will give them the best chance of being a playoff-contending team as soon as possible and for the longest time.

Who that could be has changed over the last month, with Jayden Daniels becoming the favorite to land with the Commanders with the No. 2 pick instead. A former favorite for the Patriots to draft has returned and it appears experts have put all their chips in on Drake Maye out of North Carolina.

NBC Sports Boston: Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina

Phil Perry wrote:

"Maye is just 21 years old, he is the prototype physically, he's seen as having a high football IQ, and he impressed New England with how he interviewed in their first meeting. The opportunities to draft marquee quarterbacks are too few and far between for the Patriots to pass here, so all that's left for them to determine is whether or not they actually want to start him in his rookie season."

CBS Sports: Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina

Chris Trapasso wrote:

"The Patriots and Maye are arguably two of the biggest enigmas at the top of this draft. Here, they pair together, and if Maye doesn't start Week 1, that's fine with Jacoby Brissett back in New England."

ESPN: Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina

Field Yates wrote:

"There is no consolation prize among the three top quarterbacks in this class. They are all really good. And if I were in the Patriots' draft room, I'd be banging the table to just take whomever -- Williams, Daniels or Maye -- is available at No. 3. But Maye has immense upside with his terrific arm, idyllic 6-foot-4 stature and dual-threat ability. He has 62 passing TDs and 16 rushing TDs over the past two seasons.."

NBC Sports: Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina

Kyle Dvorchak wrote:

"Having jettisoned Mac Jones to Jacksonville, the Pats are looking for the first quarterback to kick off the post-Belichick era. Drake Maye checks more of the traditional NFL quarterback boxes than Daniels, though he obviously doesn’t have Daniels’ rushing potential. Maye threw for 7,929 yards, 62 scores, and seven interceptions in his final two years at Chapel Hill. He’s an early declare with prototypical size (6’4/223) and an incredible deep ball. With Daniels and Williams already gone, Maye is a no-brainer for Jerod Mayo and Co."

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

Ryan Wilson wrote:

"J.J. McCarthy might be one of the most polarizing players in this class, and I'll admit it, I was skeptical that he was worthy of a first-round pick. It's not because he isn't talented (his athleticism and arm strength are impressive), but because he wasn't asked to do a lot in Michigan's offense. But go back and watch his throws on third down and 6 to 10 yards to go: he completed 73% of his attempts -- many of them NFL throws -- with 5 touchdowns and no turnovers. We also talked to him at the combine and the charisma and leadership just ooze off him. And I get it, you might think that we got caught up in the moment, but I'll just say this: last year when we spoke to C.J. Stroud at the combine, those very same qualities were blindingly obvious in person, and it certainly didn't hurt his cause during a historic rookie season." Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina

Lance Zierlein wrote:

"While Maye didn't work out at the combine, the feedback from team sources was 100 percent positive regarding his interviews and work on the whiteboard. Let's plug the QB into a QB-needy spot."

ESPN: Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU

Jordan Reid wrote:

"As I wrote in my Mock Draft 1.0, quarterback is the Patriots' biggest hole this offseason. The organization can't move forward and get back to competing for AFC East titles until it gets the position right. Mac Jones had a solid rookie season in 2021 but regressed badly the past two seasons; he could be traded or released over the next few months. So unless New England takes a surprise run at one of the veterans on the market -- Kirk Cousins? Russell Wilson, who is likely to be released? -- Maye makes too much sense. Sure, he's the third passer off the board in this class, but he might be the No. 1 pick in many other drafts. He's No. 5 on my Big Board, has special touch on downfield passes and can deliver every throw with precision."

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