New England Patriots 2024 NFL Draft

Recapping the New England Patriots 2024 NFL Draft

The New England Patriots had a very successful NFL draft in 2024, addressing several needs that were huge liabilities over the last couple of seasons. Not only did they select their next face of the franchise in Drake Maye, but they only selected one defensive player in the seven rounds that came and went, signaling an overhaul of the offense to complement a healthy and energized defense. Pats fans across the entire country have a renewed sense of optimism and faith in their football team. And, while they are not expected to make an immediate playoff push, they have at least returned to being a respectable organization. Let’s see who they drafted between April 25 and April 27 to get a clear picture of what this team is trying to accomplish in the 2024 season!

Recapping the New England Patriots 2024 NFL Draft

Round 1, Pick 3: QB Drake Maye, North Carolina

New England Patriots 2024 NFL Draft
Nov 11, 2023; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Drake Maye (10) looks to pass in the first quarter at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

After the Bears drafted Caleb Williams and the Commanders took Jayden Daniels, it was pretty obvious that the Patriots were going to go with the next-best quarterback on the board. It was good that they did not reach for anybody else and thought that Drake Maye would be the future.

Obviously, he has things to clean up when it comes to his decision-making and footwork, but Pats fans cannot wait to see him push the ball down the field with his incredibly strong arm. It is too early to say that he should be the immediate starter in Week 1, especially since the team signed Jacoby Brissett in free agency to be the bridge quarterback, but Maye is going to get his opportunity at some point in his rookie year.

One of two things could happen when it comes to this third overall pick. Either he lives up to the hype and proves that he is the next Justin Herbert or Josh Allen, making New England a playoff contender for years to come. The other is the one that Maye turns out like the other North Carolina quarterbacks that were given an opportunity, which is start out strong and then completely fizzle out to the point where they are now backup quarterbacks on different teams.

Everybody prefers the former to take place because, after the disaster known as Mac Jones and Bill Belichick, it would be absolutely amazing to see this team get off to the freshest start possible with Drake Maye and Jerod Mayo leading the ship.

Round 2, Pick 37: WR Ja’Lynn Polk, Washington

New England Patriots 2024 NFL Draft
Jan 8, 2024; Houston, TX, USA; Washington Huskies wide receiver Ja’Lynn Polk (2) makes a catch against the Michigan Wolverines during the fourth quarter in the 2024 College Football Playoff national championship game at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

In a pretty loaded wide receiver draft, the Patriots ended up drafting one high in the second round. For whatever reason, they did not think that Ladd McConkey or Adonai Mitchell would be reliable fits in their offense, but that is okay because Ja’Lynn Polk is just as much of a stud coming out of the University of Washington.

Even on a team with Michael Penix, Jr. at quarterback and Rome Odunze as the number one option, Polk put up incredible numbers in his final season in 2023 with close to 1,200 receiving yards and nine touchdown receptions. Even though he might not be the fastest wide receiver, Polk still has the size and strength to make contested catches, along with exceptional pace and effort in his route-running.

Patriots fans might be worried that this is another N’Keal Harry pick, but Polk plays with more tenacity and hunger who always puts in the work day in and out to become even better. Most importantly, he is going to reunite with his former wide receivers coach Tyler Hughes, so there is no doubt that Ja’Lynn Polk will win the coaching staff over pretty soon with his abilities and talents.

Round 3, Pick 68: OT Caedan Wallace, Penn State

New England Patriots 2024 NFL Draft
Oct 21, 2023; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes defensive end JT Tuimoloau (44) gets up against Penn State Nittany Lions offensive lineman Caedan Wallace (73) during the first quarter of their game at Ohio Stadium.

One of the biggest issues that the Patriots had last year was their lack of depth at the tackle position. Now, the Patriots found somebody that could not only be a reliable piece of that offensive line, but a player that only gave up one sack in 359 snaps!

In the five years that he was eligible in college, Caedan Wallace started at right tackle in all of the games that he played, but some NFL scouts say that he has the athleticism to play anywhere on the line. It will be interesting to see how they use both Wallace and Michael Onwenu because they are both incredibly versatile and mainly play on the right side of the line. The Patriots are going to need a blindside protector, and if Wallace can successfully make the transition from the right side of the line to the left, then it is going to be a very successful draft pick. He is incredibly athletic, a very dominant pass-protector with some issues in run-blocking, and has some of the best fundamentals and techniques out of the rest of the offensive linemen that were taken before and after this third-round pick.

At that point in the draft, the Patriots succeeded with their first three draft picks, but Elliot Wolf and Jerod Mayo did not stop there when it came to boosting up the offensive line.

Round 4, Pick 103: G Layden Robinson, Texas A&M

New England Patriots 2024 NFL Draft
Oct 28, 2023; College Station, Texas, USA; Texas A&M Aggies offensive lineman Layden Robinson (64) celebrates a team touchdown during the second half in a game against South Carolina Gamecocks at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Dustin Safranek-USA TODAY Sports

Although the Patriots have several guards on their roster, they do not have a natural starter on the right side of the line, and the organization wanted to see if Layden Robinson could answer that question in his rookie season.

Coming out of Texas A&M, he played over 1,200 snaps during his college career and only gave up six sacks as a right guard. That is an impressive stat that New England needs on their offensive line because there was no way that Atonio Mafi or Sidy Sow were up to the challenge last year. There is no doubt that defenses are going to try to attack him the most since there are times when he can get overrun in pass protection, but with the right amount of coaching and development, he will at least be suitable if he impresses the team in training camp and preseason play.

It will be interesting to see who gets the start at right guard for the 2024 season because there are going to be so many players that are going to try to compete for that spot over the next few months. If Robinson ends up winning it, then his detail and focus needs to be at an all-time high, or else he is going to get exposed in this league sooner rather than later.

Round 4, Pick 110: WR Javon Baker, UCF

New England Patriots 2024 NFL Draft
Oct 21, 2023; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; UCF Knights wide receiver Javon Baker (1) makes a catch in fron tof Oklahoma Sooners defensive back Gentry Williams (9) during the second half at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

It was shocking that Javon Baker fell that late in the fourth round, but the Patriots were very lucky to pick up this big of a stud at wide receiver. He let everybody know after he was drafted to get the popcorn ready, even going as far as to say that he makes people in wheelchairs stand up, so Pats fans have to be intrigued at what Baker can do at the professional level.

He initially started his college career at Alabama but only caught nine passes for them between 2020 and 2021, before transferring to UCF for him to get his opportunity. He went from not even being the third receiver on the depth chart to an instant starter for the Knights. In his junior season, he finished with 796 receiving yards and five touchdown receptions. One year later, he exploded onto the scene with over 1,100 yards and seven touchdowns. Baker proved to have incredible size and strength and can make difficult catches, along with exceptional route-running and speed, somebody that can explode from zero to 100 when the opportunity presents itself.

This is now going to be a pretty deep wide receiver room for the New England Patriots, forcing both Mayo and Wolf to make tough decisions as far as to who stays on the roster and who will be cut. However, Javon Baker is going to be ready for his opportunities and is up for the challenge, with the right mentality and mindset that is needed to have a productive NFL career.

Round 6, Pick 180: CB Marcellas Dial, South Carolina

New England Patriots 2024 NFL Draft
South Carolina Gamecocks defensive back Marcellas Dial (24) breaks up a pass intended for Notre Dame Fighting Irish wide receiver Deion Colzie (16) during the fourth quarter of the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl of an NCAA college football game Friday, Dec. 30, 2022 at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish held off the South Carolina Gamecocks 45-38. [Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union]
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Cornerback might not have been the biggest need for the Patriots heading into the 2024 offseason, but it was a group that needed extra depth. After season-ending injuries to Christian Gonzalez and Marcus Jones, the Patriots’ secondary held up with whatever they could, but now they have another younger piece that could rise to the occasion in Marcellas Dial.

It is doubtful that Dial is going to be an instant starter, especially since he only totaled three interceptions during the three seasons that he was with the Gamecocks, but he is a solidly physical defender who can break up ten passes a season and fight for the ball whenever it comes his way.

As Patriots fans know very well, sixth-round picks can take a long time for them to reach their full potential, so who knows when Dial will develop into a solid NFL corner? However, any extra cornerback help could work out if New England suffers another key injury in their secondary group, so this is more of a low-risk move than any of the other draft picks that they made.

Round 6, Pick 193: QB Joe Milton III, Tennessee

New England Patriots 2024 NFL Draft
Nov 25, 2023; Knoxville, Tennessee, USA; Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Joe Milton III (7) runs for a touchdown against Vanderbilt Commodores defensive back Jaylen Mahoney (23) during the second half at Neyland Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

It was really weird to see the Patriots draft two quarterbacks in 2024, and while it is pretty obvious that Joe Milton III will be the third-string quarterback heading into the season, it is always good to have a low-risk insurance plan. Look at the 49ers just a couple of years ago. After two season-ending injuries to Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo, they were fortunate that they took Brock Purdy with their last pick in the draft because when he took over, there was no looking back for this football team.

It is doubtful that the same will happen here in Foxboro, but Milton is the definition of a raw rookie project of a quarterback. Even though he has plenty of arm talent and did well in his only year of starting for Tennessee last season, his accuracy and decision-making issues are ten times bigger than the ones that even Drake Maye had when he was at North Carolina. The quarterback competition will be very interesting to watch this offseason. Maye and Brissett will be the first two on the depth chart, make no mistake about it for one second. But Milton, Bailey Zappe, and Nathan Rourke are going to be fighting like hell for that third spot and only one of them is going to remain on the roster for the regular season.

Round 7, Pick 231: TE Jaheim Bell, Florida State

New England Patriots 2024 NFL Draft
Nov 18, 2023; Tallahassee, Florida, USA; Florida State Seminoles tight end Jaheim Bell (6) during the warm ups before the game against the North Alabama Lions at Doak S. Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Morgan Tencza-USA TODAY Sports

Last but not least, the Patriots close off the 2024 NFL Draft with yet another offensive player, tight end Jaheim Bell. Like the previous two New England picks, Bell is not expected to be an immediate contributor and will have to really fight for a roster spot over this next summer.

In three seasons at South Carolina, he never finished with over 500 receiving yards before he transferred to Florida State in his senior year, where he only scored three total touchdowns. Bell has the speed and alertness to be a decent piece to this offense, but in a loaded tight end room, it is going to take an out-of-this-world summer for him to officially become a part of the team. Nobody is considered a reach when they are taken in the seventh round, so once again it is a low-risk move for an offense that badly needs to see who is ready to step up to the plate and who would hold them back.

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