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Perry's 2024 Mock Draft 1.0: Patriots add QB, OT with first two picks

Perry's 2024 Mock Draft 1.0: Patriots add QB, OT with first two picks originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

We're officially three months away from the start of the 2024 NFL Draft, and this year's may be the most important to the organization since the Kraft family bought the Patriots 30 years ago.

With a new head coach, new leadership in the front office, a hole at quarterback and the No. 3 overall pick, the pressure is on to get things turned around following a 4-13 finish in 2023.

This year, as we spend a sizable portion of the offseason preparing for draft weekend, we're going to take a few different approaches to our mocks. We'll roll out versions that explore how it might look for the Patriots to trade down. We'll take a look at what it might cost them to move up and get the quarterback of their dreams. We'll kick around the idea of passing on a quarterback at No. 3, nabbing a game-changing playmaker early instead.

There are myriad paths for the Patriots when it comes to how they'll use their first two picks (No. 3 and No. 34 overall), and we'll do our best to walk you down as many as we can while getting to know as many of these prospects as we can in the process.

Our first mock of the offseason is our best guess at how it will go based on what we know right now. Of course, that will change. As time goes on, we'll get a better handle on where teams are leaning, which players are acing their interviews and workouts, and we'll find out how roster needs have been met during free agency.

But, three months in advance, here's our stab at how things could shake out. And if it shakes out this way for the first two Patriots picks, they'll be given an infusion of hope at two of the most important positions in the sport.

1. Chicago Bears (via Carolina Panthers): Caleb Williams, QB, USC

The most talented quarterback in the class, Williams feels like the No. 1 overall choice right now and it'd be a surprise if he falls between now and April.

2. Washington Commanders: Drake Maye, QB, UNC

Jayden Daniels, 23, is worthy of consideration here. But the analytically-driven Commanders -- under new owner Josh Harris -- may prefer the 21-year-old Maye.

3. New England Patriots: Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU

2023 season stats for LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels
Jayden Daniels put up video game numbers for LSU in 2023 en route to a Heisman Trophy.

Jerod Mayo brings a very different voice to the head coach's office in Foxboro, but his philosophies may be similar to his predecessor Bill Belichick. As Mayo told us on the Next Pats Podcast, he still considers "smart, tough, dependable" -- Belichick's favorite adjectives for an ideal roster -- as three critical traits for a winning organization.

If that's the case, Daniels feels like a fit to take over at the most important position on the roster.

🔊 Next Pats: Why Jayden Daniels should be the third QB taken in the 2024 NFL Draft | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

He's smart, if you use how he takes care of the football as a gauge; his career turnover-worthy-play percentage is 1.6, according to A to Z Sports, which is best in this draft class. He's tough, running for better yards-per-scramble (12.8) and yards-per-designed-run (9.1) averages than Lamar Jackson in Jackson's 2016 Heisman Trophy season, per ESPN. And despite taking some vicious shots over the course of his career, Daniels is dependable, playing in at least 12 games in four of his five college seasons. (He played a COVID-shortened four-game schedule in 2020.)

Add those characteristics to what he's shown as a down-the-field dart-thrower -- he hit over 60 percent of his passes that traveled 20 yards or more beyond the line of scrimmage this season -- and you have a player who satisfies what the Patriots have long wanted at the quarterback position, while also bringing some explosive running ability to take New England's offense into the modern age.

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4. Arizona Cardinals: Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State

The Cardinals seem set on sticking with Kyler Murray so it makes all the sense in the world to get him the draft's best offensive weapon.

5. Los Angeles Chargers: Malik Nabers, WR, LSU

The Chargers made a big splash Wednesday by installing former quarterback Jim Harbaugh as their new head coach. Makes sense, then, that they'd get their face-of-the-franchise passer an explosive option to revitalize the receiver room.

6. New York Giants: Rome Odunze, WR, Washington

The Giants have been looking for receivers for years. Odunze is a well-rounded force in a draft class full of talent at the position.

7. Tennessee Titans: Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame

Coming from Cincinnati, new head coach Brian Callahan knows how things can go sideways quickly when a quarterback gets banged up. The Titans still may be looking for a quarterback, but by adding Alt, they're investing in their future passer's protection with the best tackle in the class.

8. Atlanta Falcons: Dallas Turner, EDGE, Alabama

If Bill Belichick is the head coach here, would Atlanta taking the first defensive player off the board shock anyone? Of course not. Turner would represent good value here.

9. Chicago Bears: Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia

If Chicago wants to get Caleb Williams a sure-handed weapon who's smart enough to find openings when Williams gets on the move, Bowers is a savvy choice. He's a move tight end who'll pair nicely with the more traditional "Y" in Cole Kmet.

10. New York Jets: Olu Fashanu, OT, Penn State

The search for reliable offensive linemen continues here. If the Jets want to make sure Aaron Rodgers is kept safe and sound in the pocket, drafting a high-upside tackle like Fashanu would be a smart way to attack that goal.

11. Minnesota Vikings: Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State

The Vikings are already a problem for opposing quarterbacks with the variety of pressure looks they employ with defensive coordinator Brian Flores. With Verse, they'd be even more scary.

12. Denver: Laiatu Latu, EDGE, UCLA

Speed. Effort. Technique. It would come as little surprise if Latu went higher than this based on his ability, but he has an injury history that could hurt his draft stock.

13. Las Vegas Raiders: Taliese Fuaga, OL, Oregon State

Whether he plays tackle or guard, Fuaga will be a glass-eater for head coach Antonio Pierce and help whoever is playing quarterback keep clean.

14. New Orleans Saints: JC Latham, OT, Alabama

Just a behemoth human being at 6-foot-6 and a projected 360 pounds, Latham has the strength and power to swallow up pass-rushers. And quickly.

15. Indianapolis Colts: Brian Thomas Jr., WR, LSU

If the Colts want Anthony Richardson to thrive in his second season, coming off injury, getting him weapons should be a priority. Thomas has the size and speed to shake things up for a team that could lose Michael Pittman Jr. to free agency.

16. Seattle Seahawks: Byron Murphy, DT, Texas

Murphy may be "undersized" at 6-foot-1 and a shade over 300 pounds, but that doesn't bother teams in today's game. He has the quickness and relentless motor to be a problem from Day 1 for the Seahawks.

17. Jacksonville Jaguars: Terrion Arnold, CB, Alabama

The Jags could be in the receiver market depending on what happens with free-agent-to-be Calvin Ridley, but it might be hard for them to pass on Arnold here since he looks like he could be the best corner in the class.

18. Cincinnati Bengals: Amarius Mims, OT, Georgia

What better gift to give a banged-up superstar quarterback? How about a burly tackle prospect who checks in at 6-foot-7, 340 pounds? Mims only has eight career college starts, but he has the tools to be a long-term starter.

19. Los Angeles Rams: Bo Nix, QB, Oregon

The Rams should want Matthew Stafford to play as long as he can, but they wouldn't be in the wrong for planning for the future here. Stafford is 35. He's been banged up. And Nix could end up being a good match for Sean McVay due to his athleticism, toughness and apparent ability to work through progressions.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers: J.J. McCarthy, QB, Michigan

McCarthy doesn't have nearly the passing reps under his belt that Nix does, but he has traits a quarterback-needy team like the Steelers could covet. He has enough size (6-foot-3) and arm strength to cut the ball through the conditions in Pittsburgh.

21. Miami Dolphins: Troy Fautanu, OL, Washington

The Dolphins could use a little more grit on their line in order to keep Tua Tagovailoa upright. It's been a methodical process trying to get that unit solved, and this bully from Washington would be part of the solution.

22. Philadelphia Eagles: Nate Wiggins, CB, Clemson

Wiggins has excellent length (6-foot-2) and speed, and there's an argument to be made that he's deserving of being the first corner off the board. In this scenario, he's second. And the Eagles are thrilled.

23. Houston Texans (via Cleveland Browns): Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama

We've got a mini-run on corners here. McKinstry might not have the same level of speed as Wiggins, but he's considered a high-IQ cover man and he's aggressive at the catch point. He and Derek Stingley would be a dynamic duo in the Texans secondary for years to come.

24. Dallas Cowboys: Tyler Guyton, OT, Oklahoma

Expected to participate in the Senior Bowl next week, Guyton could work his way up in the first round with a solid performance. He's 6-foot-7, 328 pounds and appears to have the bounce to pass protect at either tackle spot. It's time to prep for Tyron Smith's eventual departure, and Guyton would be a logical choice to serve as Smith's understudy -- or outright replacement if Smith leaves via free agency.

25. Green Bay Packers: Jordan Morgan, OT, Arizona

Premium positions continue to fly off the board. Good year to need a tackle with NFL-caliber athletic traits. Morgan tore his ACL late in the 2022 season, and so by the time he gets to the league, he could be considerably more comfortable in his movements than he was when less than a year removed from his injury for the Wildcats last season.

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Keon Coleman, WR, Florida State

Coleman's size and athleticism make him a logical succession plan for Mike Evans should the veteran choose to go elsewhere as a free agent this offseason.

27. Arizona Cardinals (via Houston Texans): Kingsley Suamataia, OT, BYU

Suamataia is athletic enough to play a variety of positions along the Cardinals offensive line, and he may be best suited to play guard early on with DJ Humphries under contract and after Arizona selected Paris Johnson in the top 10 last year.

28. Buffalo Bills: T'Vondre Sweat, DT, Texas

No one in this year's postseason has allowed more yards per carry than the Bills (5.4). They were 28th in that category in the regular season (4.6). Sweat is a 6-foot-4, 362-pound immovable run-stuffer.

29. Kansas City Chiefs: Adonai Mitchell, WR, Texas

Mitchell may be too much of a project for the Chiefs to want to take him this highly. But they need all the receiving help they can find, and Mitchell (6-foot-4, 196 pounds) has intriguing physical gifts.

30. Detroit Lions: Cooper DeJean, CB, Iowa

Dan Campbell can throw DeJean wherever he wants him in the Lions secondary thanks to his size (6-foot-1, 205 pounds), ball skills and physicality. He'll also have real special-teams value wherever he lands.

31. San Francisco 49ers: Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo

Another potential Senior Bowl standout, Mitchell is the highest-graded corner for Pro Football Focus over the last two seasons, racking up a quarterback rating allowed figure of just 42.5.

32. Baltimore Ravens: Jer'Zhan Newton, DT, Illinois

Baltimore defensive tackle Justin Madubuike just had a ridiculously-productive season (13 sacks, 33 quarterback hits) and is headed into free agency for the Ravens. If they lose him, they may need a quick and violent interior pass-rusher to fill the void. Newton has explosive power to get off the ball and under the pads of offensive linemen in any situation.

ROUND 2

33. Carolina Panthers: Devontez Walker, WR, UNC

With speed to burn and enough size to win on jump balls (6-foot-2, 200 pounds), Walker looks like a legit boundary receiving prospect. He might not be a dynamic after-the-catch player, but his catch radius could make Bryce Young's life a little easier in Year 2.

34. New England Patriots: Patrick Paul, OT, Houston

Could Houston offensive tackle Patrick Paul follow in the footsteps of <a class="link " href="https://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/9322/" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Sebastian Vollmer;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Sebastian Vollmer</a> with the Patriots?
Could Houston offensive tackle Patrick Paul follow in the footsteps of Sebastian Vollmer with the Patriots?

Fifteen years ago, the Patriots drafted a tackle out of Houston in the second round even though he was viewed by many as a project. He wasn't the most polished player in the world, but he was big, he was tough, and, critically, he was smart.

In this scenario, the Patriots would love it if Paul turned out as well as their Sebastian Vollmer selection did back in 2009.

Paul has all the size you could want at 6-foot-7, 310 pounds and with nearly 37-inch arms. And he gave former Texas Tech edge rusher Tyree Wilson -- last year's top-10 pick of the Raiders -- all he could handle back in 2022. Paul was a three-year starter in college, beginning as a red-shirt freshman in 2021, and a two-time captain. Per Houston's athletic department, he didn't allow a sack and gave up just one quarterback hit in 469 opportunities in 2023.

If the Patriots feel they help Paul refine his technique, he's a worthwhile investment at this point in the draft. It's usually pretty rare to find traits like his -- and a demeanor like his -- on Day 2. The Patriots would be fortunate if the depth at this position in this year's class pushed Paul into the 30s.