Way-too-early first-round targets for the Patriots in 2024 NFL Draft

Will New England stand pat at No. 3 or make a trade?

Sep 9, 2023; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Drake Maye (10)
Sep 9, 2023; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Drake Maye (10) / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
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With the Patriots officially securing the No. 3 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, the long-awaited offseason is finally here. The third pick should effectively at least have New England in play for every entrant into the draft. Here is the way I would rank them, in order of desirability.

Target #1: Caleb Williams, QB, USC

The first time I saw Caleb Williams play was for my alma mater (Oklahoma) against Texas on Oct. 9, 2021. He led one of the greatest comebacks in the history of the rivalry, and the legend was born. He went on to break many a Sooner’s heart (including my own) by transferring to USC and winning the 2022 Heisman Trophy.

Past heartache aside, Williams is the slam dunk first pick if you can get him. Per Jeff Howe of The Athletic, NFL GMs seem to agree. So, for the Pats to secure the bag, they will likely have to trade up to No. 1.

Does Williams have flaws/concerns? Sure, but who doesn’t? All it takes is one look at his highlight tape to see that his upside does not come along very often.

Target #2: Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU

This might come as a surprise in a ranking of “desirability” when the near-consensus top-two quarterbacks have been Caleb Williams and Drake Maye. It’s entirely possible that following the combine, pro days, etc., Daniels will rise and not be available at No. 3.

But if it goes anything like Todd McShay or others’ mock drafts have shown, the Pats could get their guy without trading.

Daniels is one of the more promising dual threats in recent memory, and if you compare his Heisman season stats to those of Lamar Jackson, you can’t help but be intrigued:

Daniels 2023 - 3,812 passing yards, 40 TDs, 4 INT, 72.2% completions; 1,134 rushing yards, 10 TDs

Jackson 2016 - 3,543 passing yards, 30 TDs, 9 INT, 56.2% completions; 1,571 rushing yards, 21 TDs