It’s rare to see the New England Patriots pick inside of the top-10 of an NFL draft, much less them being a top-three pick on the board. So the fact that they’re sitting at No. 3 overall in the 2024 NFL draft is a miracle in itself.
This isn’t an opportunity that comes along often for the Patriots, and they’re going to need to make the best use of this moment while they have it. Some would suggest they play it safe by trading down, accumulating more draft picks and building up their offensive roster, before truly addressing the quarterback issue.
Or, they could decide to fully take advantage of their position by moving up to draft the quarterback of their choosing. There would be no leaving things up to chance. They could put themselves in position to take the top player on the draft board.
Here are five reasons why the Patriots should trade up to the No. 1 overall pick and get their quarterback of the future:
No guarantee they'll have another shot at a potential franchise QB
It’s hard finding exceptional talent at the quarterback position in the NFL.
Teams spend years rotating through failed draft picks, over-the-hill veterans and bridge options under center, while the teams led by the best quarterbacks consistently compete for championships.
The Patriots experienced it first hand in the 19 years they had with Tom Brady at quarterback. With Brady gone, they’ve been thrown into the same endless hunt so many other teams have experienced over the years.
There are no guarantees they’ll ever be in a position to draft as high as No. 3 again. An argument could be made that they wouldn’t have even been in that spot this year if they opted to start Bailey Zappe over Mac Jones for the entire season. It’s also highly unlikely that a franchise quarterback is ever going to come free.
Even when things are bad, teams tend to hold on to their quarterbacks, knowing the alternative could be far worse.
The Patriots are in a rare position to move up and draft either Caleb Williams or Drake Maye. There’s a good chance both are gone before the No. 3 pick. If they truly value Jayden Daniels as their next quarterback, he will likely be there for the taking. But when breaking down film, if they feel like Williams and Maye are better prospects, why not move up and get their guy?
Another team might beat them to the punch
One of the obvious reasons for the Patriots to roll the dice is the fact that someone else could beat them to the punch. There are a multitude of other quarterback-needy teams that could consider scaling the draft board in an effort to land Caleb Williams, Drake Maye or Jayden Daniels.
The Atlanta Falcons, Minnesota Vikings, Denver Broncos and Las Vegas Raiders could all use a serious change under center. Time will tell if that need is strong enough for any of those teams to unload the arsenal of draft picks it would take to make it a reality.
But how disappointing would it be for the Patriots to sit pat or potentially even trade out of their top spot for another team to move up and get their franchise quarterback?
Great rewards come from taking risks, and the Patriots are going to have to get comfortable with that reality at some point. The heavens aren’t going to open for an elite quarterback to simply fall into their lap.
Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe are not the answer
Do we really need to see another year of musical chairs with Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe? Really?
Jones threw more interceptions than touchdowns in 2023, and the offense looked dead in the water with him under center. I get the desire for him to suddenly morph into a franchise quarterback with Bill Belichick no longer running the show, but a regime change isn’t going to suddenly improve the zip and accuracy on Jones’ throws.
Belichick didn’t do Jones any favors with his shockingly bad roster decisions, but it’s also important to note that Jones wasn’t completely helpless in the situation, either. He got flat-out outplayed by Zappe down the stretch. That’s the same Zappe that threw zero touchdowns passes and five interceptions in the last two games of the season.
Fixing the skilled positions and improving the offensive line can only help so much. The Patriots are in no position to compete in a much-improved AFC East with Jones and Zappe facing the likes of Josh Allen, Aaron Rodgers and even Tua Tagovailoa.
Sure, the Patriots caught lightning in a bottle and made the playoffs in 2021 with a rookie Jones leading a better offensive roster. And then they got blown out 47-17 in the wild card round by Allen and the Buffalo Bills.
A veteran addition would be a perennial Band-Aid
If not Mac Jones or Bailey Zappe, some have pondered about the possibility of the Patriots adding a veteran quarterback to the mix. Would the Patriots be content with going out and signing a Kirk Cousins, Russell Wilson or Ryan Tannehill?
That would work if they’re looking for a perennial Band-Aid.
The Patriots would instantly put themselves in a position to win more football games, but it’s highly unlikely they’d be serious Super Bowl contenders. Is the goal to get into a situation where the team wins nine or 10 games every season and loses in the first round of the playoffs, assuming they even make the cut?
Cousins has had plenty of offensive weapons with the Vikings, and that team isn’t any closer to a breakthrough. Wilson looks to be on the decline after being benched by Broncos coach Sean Payton late in the season. And Tannehill, who is coming off the worst NFL season in his NFL career, went from being Nashville’s darling child to step-child.
Is suffering through a bridge option really worth missing on a possible franchise rookie quarterback in New England?
No time like the present to go all in
For years, Patriots fans complained about Bill Belichick’s lack of aggressiveness on the draft board. His go-to moves were trading back for more picks or moving up for some unknown player.
Now that Belichick is gone and the Patriots are in a prime position to make a big move, some would rather see the team sit pat or trade back for more picks.
No one expects the team to suddenly morph into a playoff contender in Jerod Mayo’s first year as head coach. It’s universally accepted that the Patriots are undergoing a rebuild. If there was ever a time for the team to roll the dice and make a big move, it would be at the 2024 NFL draft.
Pair the first-year coach with the top draft projection at quarterback and start laying bricks. Look at the Houston Texans right now. The entire outlook surrounding that team and organization changed the moment they got C.J. Stroud and DeMeco Ryans.