Ranking the Patriots 8 draft picks from worst to best 

May 11, 2024; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Drake Maye (10) (front) and New England Patriots quarterback Joe Milton III (19)(back) work out at the New England Patriots rookie camp at Gillette Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports
May 11, 2024; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Drake Maye (10) (front) and New England Patriots quarterback Joe Milton III (19)(back) work out at the New England Patriots rookie camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports / Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

It was fictional monorail shyster Lyle Langley who once told the good people of Springfield, “A town with money is a little like a mule with a spinning wheel. No one knows how he got it and danged if he knows how to use it”. That’s the vibe NFL GMs give off when they have a high draft pick. 

So it’s unsurprising that the Patriots went a bit nuts when they landed their first top-10 pick in 16 years. They unearthed some gems in the late rounds but made a dreadful error out of the gate. 

As for the middle of the draft, well those picks were so random that it’s difficult to know what to make them. 

Ranking the Patriots 8 draft picks from worst to best 

8. Caedan Wallace 

Wallace could turn out to be the best right tackle in the league, but the last thing the Patriots needed in the draft was a right tackle. Chukwuma Okorafor arrived in free agency and they had also signed Michael Onwenu to a long-term deal, so now they have six right tackles. 

Switching sides is no easy feat; few players can make the change immediately. Drafting an experienced blindside blocker would have been much more sensible, even if they didn’t rate that player as highly. 

7. Drake Maye 

It’s not who they chose with the third overall pick as much as what they did with the third overall pick. Maye may (pun intended) become one of the NFL’s elite quarterbacks, but he also might not. 

The Patriots turned down the Vikings' trade offer of three first-round picks to take a quarterback in the same spot where Trey Lance, Akili Smith, and Blake Bortles were all drafted. This was the first time Bill Belichick’s football acumen was missed (he probably would have turned three first-round picks into another six future picks). Hopefully, it will be the last.   

6. Ja’Lynn Polk 

The Patriots drafted Polk because their new wide receivers coach, Tyler Hughes, coached him in college. That makes sense; many of the incoming coaching team were hired because they are pals with someone who already had an office in Gillette Stadium. 

New receivers coach Tiquan Underwood played with Jerod Mayo in New England. New senior personnel executive Alonzo Highsmith worked with Eliot Wolf in Green Bay (when Ben McAdoo was the Packers' QB coach), then both Wolf and Alex Van Pelt followed Highsmith to Cleveland.

Polk was outstanding at Washington, mainly when catching those pin-point accurate deep passes that Michael Penix Jr. could drop right into a bucket. That isn’t something the Patriots offense is going to be doing anytime soon, though.  

Even if Alex Van Pelt decides to go full “Air Raid” with the offense, there are better options to haul in Drake Maye bombs. Maye’s UNC co-star Devontez Walker would have been perfect, and he dropped so far in the draft that Baltimore scooped him up in the fourth round! 

The only way the Patriots could have found a true number-one receiver in the draft was if they had taken one in the first round. The 2024 class was loaded with skillful receivers, but just four of the prospects had true number-one talent.  

Marvin Harrison Jr. will cause chaos in the West, and Brian Thomas Jr. will be a walking highlight reel even if the Jaguars' offense promises to be inconsistent. Malik Nabers is one of the guys who will make the Giants relevant again. Rome Odunze would be a stud if he weren’t battling D.J. Moore and Keenan Allen for touches in Chicago. 

Polk has bags of talent, but Alex Van Pelt has essentially said his offense will be run first. It’s difficult to see how he will be able to display that talent when he’s run-blocking. 

5. Marcellas Dial 

Drafting Dial could prove to be a timely boon for the Patriots, provided they switch him to strong safety. If Dial learns from Kyle Dugger, he could well step into the veteran’s shoes in two or three years. 

 But if they drafted Dial to play cornerback, he’ll be exposed regularly. He’s explosive but has very stiff hips. The 23-year-old often takes bad angles and finds himself out of position and unable to affect plays.  

Dial has the physicality to make big hits, but he needs to learn patience and not to over-pursue if he is out of position. It will take a while to get the Georgia Military College product dialed in. 

4. Joe Milton III 

Milton III was the most physically gifted quarterback in the class (and for those of you grumbling that he’s no Jayden Daniels, Milton III doesn’t look like Wile E Coyote when he runs into linebackers). He’s probably the only one who can compete with Caleb Williams regarding overall talent.  

But after drafting a quarterback in the first round and having already signed Jacoby Brissett in free agency, this was a very odd pick. Milton III will become a very exciting NFL quarterback, but it seems unlikely he’ll do it in New England.  

3. Layden Robinson 

Robinson might have a low ceiling but a high floor, too. His bad days are going to be far better than some of the linemen who were taken before him. The Texas A&M product was named second-team All-SEC team, behind Kenyon Green in 2021 and Tate Ratledge in 2023.

2. Jaheim Bell 

Bell is the steal of the draft, and you could easily argue he is the best pick the Patriots made. How they use him will determine that.

If they decide he’s a regulation tight end, he won’t get much opportunity to use his undoubted physical gifts. However, if they move him around the formation and get him the ball in the red zone, he will be a nightmare for any defense. 

1. Javon Baker 

Baker has a rare ability to leave defenders for dust at the line of scrimmage. That will be vital for an offense that will have to get the ball out of the quarterbacks' hands pronto. 

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