Top 3 First-Round Draft Prospects for the New England Patriots

The New England Patriots have a franchise-altering decision to make as their third overall pick on April 25 creeps around the corner.

Assuming they don’t trade it, the Pats have their first top-five pick in 30 years with a chance to make a splash in a star-studded 2024 Draft class.

This year’s draft marks the end of a 24-year-long Bill Belichick-led system, a stretch including a tied-record-high six Super Bowl rings, surely no pressure for Eliot Wolf and first-time head coach Jerod Mayo to set up the future.

Top 3 First-Round Draft Prospects for the New England Patriots

Drake Maye, Quarterback, North Carolina

After moving on from Mac Jones, the quarterback room in Foxboro consists of free-agent veteran Jacoby Brissett and now longest-tenured quarterback, Bailey Zappe. The Patriots need a quarterback, and it’s urgent. The disservice done at the quarterback position in the 2023 season was nothing short of unbearable, and the talent in this year’s class is too promising to pass up on. The Patriots don’t want another bottom-three finish. If they want any sort of chance to rebuild, they have to draft a quarterback with their first-round pick, and that quarterback is none other than Drake Maye.

Maye could very well be the solution. His ceiling is high enough that even if he burns out, like most early-round quarterback picks in the past, the potential of his skill and impact is worth the chance. You have to take a shot on the young quarterback talent because you have nothing to lose and, frankly, no other option. His size and arm talent complement his leadership abilities perfectly, and it’s all there for the Patriots to take advantage of.

Obviously, he has his flaws when it comes to erratic decision-making and pocket footwork, as any league newcomer would, but that can be developed. After all, he’s 21 years old; there’s plenty of time to grow and develop into a mature, elite quarterback to bring the Patriots back into contention. If they can just put Maye through whatever the Buffalo Bills put Josh Allen through, then New England would have themselves the answer to their sorrows.

It’s a no-brainer. Take a chance on a guy who has been compared to Justin Herbert and could evolve like Josh Allen.

Full Drake Maye Scouting Report

Marvin Harrison Jr., Wide Receiver, Ohio State

It’s obvious that the Patriots have needs outside of the quarterback position. Not only was last year’s wide receiver depth in New England pathetic (aside from a couple of solid Kendrick Bourne outings), but they also just lost veteran Devante Parker to the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Patriots have struggled to find a true number-one receiver option for years. It has been all downhill since 2019 when they drafted N’Keal Harry over Deebo Samuel, AJ Brown, and DK Metcalf. The hole in the offense also contributed to the failure of Mac Jones, who was traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars this off-season. Lucky for the Patriots this year, they have the chance to redeem themselves by using their first-rounder on none other than Marvin Harrison Jr.

The 6’4, 204-pound legacy Hall of Famer recorded 1,211 total receiving yards and 14 touchdowns in his last collegiate season at Ohio State with Kyle McCord, who was nothing short of insufficient as a quarterback. If Marvin Harrison Jr. can be an elite pass-catcher with a quarterback without any pro talent, there’s no question that pairing him with an NFL-level quarterback would only amplify his production as a receiver.

If the Patriots drafted Harrison Jr, they would be taking a chance on one of the greatest receiver draft talents in some time. The Ohio State superstar is a generational receiving prospect with unlimited potential. Putting up 658 yards and 11 touchdowns versus single coverage last season, his contested-catching abilities and body control give him the prospect of becoming a bigger Davante Adams. Harrison Jr. would immediately become New England’s long-sought-after top option and has a shot to be on the league’s top-five receiver list no matter who is lined up behind center. Ranking first in collegiate career late-down production, he also has the ability to bail the Patriots out of crucial long-down conversions, a position they found themselves in regularly during the 2023 season.

It’s clear that if the Patriots drafted Harrison Jr., he would become a franchise cornerstone and offensive weapon with a ridiculously high ceiling for the Patriots in no time. Take the talent while you can.

Full Marvin Harrison Scouting Report

Jayden Daniels, Quarterback, LSU

The Patriots have yet to find their next franchise quarterback since Tom Brady left back in 2020. In a year with this much talent on the draft board, you have to take advantage of the quarterbacks available, and Jayden Daniels is truly an elite option. Daniels showed his abilities as an elite runner and passer for the LSU Tigers this past season and has already proved the dynamic, dual-threat ability so common in quarterback rooms in recent years.

The Heisman Trophy winner showed off his explosive ability during a remarkable final year at LSU, passing for 3,812 yards and rushing for 1,134 yards. ​​He had 40 touchdowns and led all of college football with a QBR of 95.6. His supreme accuracy and athleticism are extremely impressive, to say the least, and the energy he would bring to New England would be something unseen by Pats fans in recent years.

Although Daniels is known for his beautiful throws and accuracy, his inconsistency proves to be his biggest flaw. There were some games where Daniels was delivering dimes to his receivers, but there have also been some very easy missed passes. This shouldn’t become too much of an issue as he has shown clear flashes of his ability to make accurate touch passes. The Patriots just need to work on his consistency.

Daniels would be an exciting start to the much-needed rebuild, putting the Mac Jones era to a close and giving the Patriots hope for the future.

He would also be more ready to start than Drake Maye or J.J. McCarthy given his age and experience.

The 23-year-old has started 55 career college games and attempted 1,438 passes in his time at Arizona State and LSU, almost doubling both 21-year-old Maye and McCarthy’s recorded college stats.

Full Jayden Daniels Scouting Report

Proverbial Mention: J.J. McCarthy, Quarterback, Michigan

While he may not be the most complete quarterback in the draft, there has been a lot of recent buzz that J.J. McCarthy is Patriot-bound. Reports say Eliot Wolf is interested in drafting the 2023 National Champ at third-overall, bringing a quarterback to New England that has proven to be a winner.

The downside would be the fact that McCarthy’s career at Michigan featured a run-heavy offense, and selecting him over the likes of Maye or Daniels would not provide a foundation for the Patriots to successfully rebuild their franchise.

Full J.J. McCarthy Scouting Report

Whichever route the New England Patriots elect to take with their third overall pick, it is important to recognize that the availability of talent on the board of this caliber comes far and thin. This is the year to capitalize on the opportunity to use the gifted 2024 Draft class to curate the next dynasty in New England.

Main Image: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

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