Ranking first-round quarterback options for Patriots in 2024 NFL Draft

Nov 18, 2023; Clemson, South Carolina, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Drake Maye (10)
Nov 18, 2023; Clemson, South Carolina, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Drake Maye (10) / Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

Unless something strange happens, Caleb Williams will be a Bears player in a week, and Jayden Daniels will be the next quarterback to try to save the Commanders.

So, there are 17 quarterbacks for the Patriots to choose from, but only four of them are realistic first-round options. 

Ranking Patriots quarterback options in the first round of the draft 

1. J.J McCarthy (Michigan)

McCarthy won the national championship at Michigan in a formidable team. A team that had 550 rushing attempts and 360 passing attempts in 2023; 64 of those rushing attempts were McCarthy’s. Added to his 240 completed passes which included 22 touchdowns and just four interceptions.

So, McCarthy is a good athlete as well as a successful quarterback.  

McCarthy only started two seasons in college, though, and he is still just 21, so he may not be the finished article. That can be a blessing and a curse. He could be the Patriots' starting quarterback for a very long time. But he could also fall victim to some of the tricks more experienced defenders use to disrupt a fresh-faced counterpart.  

2. Drake Maye (North Carolina)

If the Patriots are in the market for a young quarterback without much experience, then Maye is very much in the mix, too. The North Carolina product also started just two seasons in college. Like McCarthy, Maye is still only 21 but will be 22 in August.

Maye didn’t have the success that McCarthy did in his college career, winning only 17 games in the two years he started, while McCarthy won 28 in two seasons. The UNC alum has drawn comparisons to Justin Herbert and Josh Allen, and while they are both considered elite quarterbacks, neither of them has won a trophy since Herbert was named Rookie of the Year in 2020. 

Maye is 6 foot 4 and 223 lbs., which is two inches taller than McCarthy and weighs 23 lbs. more. In 2023, Maye’s North Carolina team threw the ball 460 times and ran the ball 489 times. Maye accounted for 112 of those rushing attempts. 

3. Michael Penix Jr. (Washington)

Southpaw, Penix Jr. is definitely not a young quarterback prospect who lacks starting experience. Although like the first two options, he didn’t really become a full-time starter until 2022. He transferred to Washington in 2022 and then started 28 games in two seasons having previously started 21 in four seasons in Indiana.

Unlike both McCarthy and Maye Penix Jr. doesn't run much at all. In an offense that ran the ball 391 times and threw it 574 times, Penix Jr. only ran it 35 times for eight yards. That would limit the plays the offense could run and would be a problem behind what promises to be a clunky offensive line.

Penix Jr. did lead the Huskies to the national championship game in 2023, but he benefited from having a better-receiving corps than McCarthy and Maye. The Wolverines' defense provided many problems that Penix Jr. could not solve. 

4. Bo Nix (Oregon)

Nix is a bit of a wildcard, there is no reason to believe the Patriots have any interest in drafting him. In fact, all signals point to him being a Denver Bronco by the end of the first round. But he is still a fascinating prospect.

The Oregon prospect is 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighs 214 lbs. Just half an inch shorter than McCarthy and five pounds lighter. Nix has the most starting experience of the four options. He started 34 games in his three seasons at Auburn before he transferred to Oregon. Nix is the oldest of the four viable options, he was 24 in February. 

Nix’s Ducks team threw the ball 514 times last season and ran it 423 times. Nix was responsible for 54 of those rushing attempts and he scored six rushing touchdowns. He will be a real running threat in the NFL wherever he lands. 

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