Retired quarterback inadvertently helped ensure Patriots drafted Drake Maye

Campbell v North Carolina
Campbell v North Carolina / Grant Halverson/GettyImages

Leading up to the 2024 NFL Draft, there was a lot of speculation about how the chips would fall at the start of Round 1. It had been known for months that Caleb Williams would be first off the board, taken by the Bears. But which quarterback would go next became the mystery of the offseason.

One week, it was the Commanders loved Jayden Daniels. The next, the LSU alum was projected to fall to the Patriots at No. 3, with Drake Maye being taken by Washington. It really became a situation of who was the flavor of the week.

Then there was talk about the Patriots potentially trading down with another quarterback-needy team like the Vikings. It seemed like a real possibility for many weeks leading to the draft, and then other teams became part of the conversation as the draft neared.

One of those teams was the Broncos, who were looking for a Russell Wilson replacement.

It was said Sean Payton was doing his due diligence on the top quarterback prospects of this year's draft, and he focused primarily on Drake Maye and J.J. McCarthy. Rumors circulated what he was willing to give up in a trade to move into the top 5 to get the quarterback he wanted, but not much was made about it again until after the draft concluded.

Denver never moved up and, apparently, didn't try to either. Instead, Sean Payton was convinced by retired quarterback Philip Rivers that sticking and picking at No. 12 to take Oregon QB Bo Nix.

Retired quarterback inadvertently helped ensure Patriots drafted Drake Maye

NFL insider Adam Schefter revealed this tidbit of information this week during an episode of his podcast and spoke in detail about how influential Rivers' impressions of Maye and Nix, both of whom he worked with during their college careers, ultimately changed Payton's mind on draft night.

"Now Sean Payton was calling around in the interim. And one of the people that he called in advance was Philip Rivers, who was working with Drake Maye and Bo Nix down in Alabama. And Philip Rivers really was impressed with Drake Maye, but Philip Rivers was REALLY impressed with Bo Nix."

The former Chargers' quarterback was so enthralled with Nix that Payton is said to have compared how he feels about his potential in the NFL to the same feeling he had about Patrick Mahomes in the 2017 draft.

"And by the time the draft rolled around, and I tweeted this out after the draft, Sean Payton felt the same way about Bo Nix as he did about Patrick Mahomes in the 2017 NFL Draft."

This ultimately worked in the Patriots' favor, as the Broncos could have been incredibly persistent in trying to trade with them for the No. 3 pick. Or they might have tried hard to leapfrog them and deal with the Commanders to select Maye had Rivers not been so high on Nix.

Thankfully, New England lucked out in the end and hopefully found their next franchise quarterback for the long haul.

More Patriots coverage: