Breer: Patriots have scouted the top QB prospects in 2024 NFL Draft

Breer: Patriots have scouted the top QB prospects in 2024 NFL Draft originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The New England Patriots could be in the very unfamiliar position of having a top five pick in the NFL Draft next year, and if that scenario does unfold, they likely would have the chance to draft a potential franchise quarterback.

Of course, drafting that high in the first round is never a slam dunk -- just ask the New York Jets with Zach Wilson and Mark Sanchez -- but it does give you a better chance at finding the player to build your roster around for the next 10 years.

And the 2024 draft class is projected to be special, including at quarterback. USC star and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams is expected to go No. 1 overall, but North Carolina's Drake Maye isn't far behind. Washington's Michael Penix Jr. (the current Heisman favorite) and Oregon's Bo Nix could be first-round picks as well.

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Would the Patriots be interested in taking one of these quarterbacks if they had a chance to do so?

They're at least doing the proper due diligence.

"I can tell you guys for a fact the Patriots have had live game exposure -- and remember, you have to make decisions on where you go with your scouts -- they've had live game exposure to every one of the top quarterbacks except Caleb Williams," Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer said on NBC Sports Boston's Sports Sunday. "I'm sure they'll get to Caleb soon. So they are taking a very hard look at these guys."

The Patriots spent a first-round pick (No. 15 overall) on Mac Jones in 2021. After a good rookie campaign, Jones has not shown the expected progress in Year 2 and so far in Year 3.

In fairness, the Patriots haven't always surrounded Jones with the best talent and coaching. But at the same time, he hasn't really done a whole lot to convince people he's a legit franchise QB.

"I think it's reflective of where they are, too," Breer added. "Mac Jones, maybe you give him another year, but he hasn't played well enough where if you have the second pick or third pick or the fourth pick, you're going to pass on one of those quarterbacks because (Jones) is here."

The Patriots would have the No. 4 pick if the season ended today, and there is going to be a ton of movement in the first round order between now and Week 18.

Even if the Patriots aren't in a position to draft one of the top quarterbacks, this class is also loaded at offensive tackle and wide receiver -- two other major weaknesses on New England's roster.