Patriots need to prioritize quality over quantity in 2024 NFL Draft

Just draft the very best players you can.
North Carolina v NC State
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Draft at No. 3, or trade down? That's the dilemma for the New England Patriots on Thursday and Friday. It's the age-old debate about how to build or rebuild a team. Under Bill Belichick, the theme was to amass more picks by trading down.

Unfortunately, the result was too often more mediocre or worse players brought in.

With Bill being a draft analyst, Eliot Wolf will make the choices in (at least) this year's draft. Whether entrusting your most critical draft in 30 years to an inexperienced general manager in training is a good idea is another issue altogether. The better choice would have been to go with a seasoned veteran with a good track record, but Eliot Wolf is in charge.

He'll have to decide whether to trade that all-important top-three pick overall for a bag of picks. There are good arguments on either side, but when push comes to shove, there is only one right decision when you don't have the key player on any NFL team, the quarterback. You just take him at three, or if you're sure one of the top three will be there after a trade, you trade down a pick or two. Say hello to Jayden Daniels of LSU or Drake Maye of UNC.

That decision aligns with the theory espoused here: you go with quality over quantity at every turn. Stocking up with mediocre players as Belichick did in 2023 (and Wolf now has in free agency) is a prescription for disaster, as in another last-place finish.

The Patriots must draft the best talent they can get

While the allure of all those picks may lead Mr. Wolf to make the wrong deal, hopefully, he'll do the right thing and take the best quarterback available at three and move on. That locks down the most important player on the team. The rookie gets the ball and the keys to the offense.

Next up has to be either a top wide receiver or, preferably, a left tackle. While the glamour position is wideout, the more essential one to bolster and foster success is the left tackle. The suggestion is to trade back into the first round, pay the high freight, and get a top left tackle. You won't get a top-four tackle, but you can trade back up and get a really good one.

That will take at least your second-rounder, a fourth, and a top pick(s) in 2025. Make the deal. In the third round, at pick No. 68, you need to select a wide receiver. This is an excellent draft for wide receivers and it's time for New England to get a top receiver pick right.

Good scouting is a must to accomplish a quality draft.

Here is where your scouting comes into play. Of course, as always, you need to draft a consensus player where he should be drafted. No more bizarre "reaches" a la Bill B., please. Take a receiver whose stock may have dropped a bit but who's still rated highly. Just take the best on the board.

With these three picks, you've already had a successful draft. You've sewn up your top three needs, all on offense, and now can continue to build. In the fifth round, again, trading back up into the fourth is the best play.

There, you'll have the choice of doubling up on an offensive tackle, a wide receiver, or going after a solid young tight end. You trade up and get the best available player at one of those positions. You can't go wrong drafting any of the three.

That trade will also take some resources, and spreading the pain into 2025 is still the suggested course. The Patriots' offense was dismal in 2024. A draft along these lines can make an immediate impact. If you correctly feel there is only one season, the upcoming one, then a strategy to bring in the best you can, even if only five or six players, will maximize your potential to win now.

That's the theory of quality over quantity. Amassing boatloads of draft picks and taking less than top players at their positions is a strategy doomed to fail. That is, unless, of course, you have Tom Brady to bail you out of all kinds of terrible personnel decisions. And barring his un-retirement and heading back to Foxborough, you won't.

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