As the Patriots officially head into a new era under the leadership of Jerod Mayo, there is an intense focus on how the first free agency and draft will unfold, which will inevitably determine the path the team will take for the next several years.
Because they have an estimated $70 million in cap space, give or take, and the third overall pick in the upcoming draft, the new head coach has all the tools in his arsenal to start his tenure off the right way by spending big bucks and selecting a franchise-altering player in the first round.
He surely couldn't have walked into a better situation if he tried.
Although free agency starts first, as it's just eight weeks away, most of the conversation has been about the draft and who the best pick would be for the Patriots, with plenty of roster holes need to be addressed. From the offensive line and quarterback to wide receiver and tight end, the entire offense has to be upgraded, and this year's class appears to be the best one for that.
But what position will they prioritize first?
Matt Groh and Camren Williams hint at positions they're focused on for this year's draft
Most analysts believe Mayo and Co. will undoubtedly take a quarterback with pick No. 3 and given their choices at the top of the draft; it would certainly make sense. At least one of the top players of the class, Jayden Daniels, Drake Maye, or Caleb Williams, will be available when they're on the clock, and taking one of them would not be a bad choice.
But then some other names have snuck into the conversation and are currently believed to be late first-rounders or early second-round picks and could climb higher after the NFL combine.
So it's a pretty deep quarterback class which gives the Patriots plenty of options with their first two picks, which is something College Scouting Director Camren Williams shared he is excited about while speaking to Patriots.com writer Evan Lazar at the Senior Bowl this week.
"There's a lot of talented quarterbacks. For us, it's going to be a big process. That position …there's so much about this part when we actually get to meet them. This is where quarterbacks separate themselves. There are different categories within the process. There's the fall, where we evaluate the tape, and then there's the All-Star games, the combine, Pro Day workouts, the interactions, and interviews. So that position, in particular, is super important in that regard. So that's going to be a big piece to it. But, in general, it's a talented quarterback class."
And then there's the other critical piece of the offense that needs significant help this offseason: the wide receiver group. If the Patriots decide to go that route, they are in an excellent position to take one of the best of the class in the first round, like Marvin Harrison Jr.
According to Matt Groh, the Director of Player Personnel, they will prioritize a few traits when evaluating talent this year, which seems just as enticing as taking the next franchise quarterback.
"You need to have explosive players. You look at the teams that are playing deep into the playoffs and they have explosive players, whether that's on the perimeter, or the backfield, or the tight end position. The quickest way to score points is through explosive plays. You get that by having explosive players and somebody who can get those guys the ball."
Because we've heard this tune before, it isn't easy to buy in completely. However, now that there is a shift in power and new voices to be heard, perhaps this year will be different than what we've seen for the last two decades.
Surely, Robert Kraft would try to enforce that, right?
Hopefully, this will be a year that Patriots fans can celebrate when the draft is over. It would be nice to feel good about the players picked and the direction the team is going in rather than having coaches from other teams laughing at press conferences about New England trading up to draft a guard or a kicker.