Although the 2024 NFL draft is still five months away, most in New England are already looking ahead to what should be the most impactful and franchise-changing drafts in a very long time.
For the most part, the favored positions analysts and fans believe the Patriots should prioritize are offensive lineman, quarterback, and wide receiver, all of which have become more apparent as the team continues to lose in horrific fashion.
Some of that has changed due to the continuous regression of Mac Jones, who most believe the Patriots will move on from at the end of the season. And because they will have their highest draft pick since the 1993 draft, it would be the perfect time to snag their new franchise QB to replace him.
That's the direction draft experts and writers have gone in after Week 12, with nearly every mock draft having the Patriots select a quarterback with the third overall selection. But who they will inevitably choose is still up in the air, even though one name appears the most.
Cameron Garrity of Yahoo Sports - Drake Maye, QB -UNC
Nick Simon of Draft Kings Network - Drake Maye, QB - UNC
Ian Valentino of Pro Football Network - Caleb Williams, QB - USC
- "Maybe the New England Patriots are ready to turn the page on head coach Bill Belichick, but it’s also possible he’s pulling off a terrific tank job to land a top quarterback in the 2024 class.
Giving Belichick and offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien a talent like Williams would allow the franchise to compete with Buffalo and Miami in the AFC East in the coming years. O’Brien previously got the best out of Deshaun Watson, and Williams can match Watson’s peak performance, if not better."
Connor Livesay of The 33rd Team - Drake Maye, QB - UNC
- "If you were unsure if Mac Jones‘ time with the New England Patriots was already over, Sunday’s loss to the New York Giants all but confirmed it. The QB1 battle is unresolved and likely won’t be any time soon. With either Williams or Drake Maye, the Patriots’ offense finally will get an athletic quarterback who can operate off-script when needed."
Ryan Wilson of CBS Sports - Jayden Daniels, QB - LSU
Luke Easterling of Sports Illustrated - Drake Maye, QB - UNC
- "The ideal scenario for the Pats, who desperately need an upgrade at quarterback over Mac Jones. Similar to Williams, Maye's 2023 campaign has been somewhat of a roller-coaster, but the tools are there to be a franchise passer at the next level. New England will still need to add more talent to the offense (both in the trenches and at receiver), but none of that matters until they have a difference-maker under center."
Chris Trapasso of CBS Sports - Caleb Williams, QB - USC
- "The Patriots are ecstatic to be able to land Williams here. He has franchise-quarterback talent."
Nate Tice of Yahoo Sports - Caleb Williams, QB - USC
- "Williams' creation ability would provide plenty of NFL offenses a spark, and that ability to work off-script and ad-lib yards and points would give a Patriots offense something to launch off. He is the antithesis to what Jones brings right now as far as ability to extend (although Jones has always been an underrated and efficient scrambler). Williams' quick throwing motion and ability to throw off-platform would also help mitigate some of the muddy pockets that he would likely have to navigate early on behind a Patriots offensive line that has faced a litany of issues and injuries this season.
Williams has had some inconsistent performances this season, with some being an issue of his tendency to hold onto the ball in the pocket and some of it being on USC’s offensive structure (and also just having to constantly do something to overcome the Trojans’ defensive ineptitude). When you take out some of the wonkiness of USC’s offense and grade the types of plays that translate, Williams shows the ability to make all of the throws required at the next level, within and outside the confines of the play.
Williams' height (6-foot-1) does not hinder his play and he has a sturdy build to withstand the punishment at the next level. His true “defining trait” is his contact balance, which is excellent. He is constantly bouncing off defenders behind and past the line of scrimmage, and will drive his legs and find extra yards or extend the play for another half-second, showing off his competitive drive and toughness at key moments."
No matter who of the three choices New England could choose, it seems fair to say that most fans wouldn't be unhappy heading into next season.