Phil Perry

Crowd-sourced 2024 NFL Mock Draft: Patriots fans prioritize offense

What would the Patriots' 2024 draft class look like with fans running the show? Let's find out.

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It's become tradition. As we approach the NFL Draft and sift through all the various mock permutations dotting the internet, we put one mock in the hands of the people.

Fire up the mock-draft simulator. Log into Twitter. Post polls to give folks the opportunity to make picks on behalf of the Patriots. Trudge through all seven rounds. Spit out the results.

It's fun. It's an opportunity to familiarize ourselves with a boatload of prospects. And it gives us some perspective on how a few thousand fans hope the Patriots will attack the draft next week.

Here it is, with the help of the mock-draft simulator on Pro Football Focus: "The People's Mock."

Round 1 (No. 3 overall): Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina

Highlights of projected Top 5 pick Drake Maye, quarterback for the University of North Carolina

The people have spoken. Clearly. Maye was the runaway winner not only for this particular pick, but for the entire mock: He received what was far and away the highest percentage of votes of any player at any draft slot in this exercise. 

And I get it. His physical talent is rare. He's accustomed to playing in a less-than-ideal situation that has coaxed out of him some of the creative playmaking ability that helps make the best passers in today's game who they are. He's thought to be a high-IQ player, and Patriots head coach Jerod Mayo has described him as having key leadership traits.

Can he be a little more erratic than you'd like with some of the "gimme" throws that you'd expect franchise quarterbacks to make? Sure. But he played in a "run-to-grass" offensive system in 2023 -- with less in the way of talent at receiver and on the offensive line -- that contributed to him being a less productive player than he was in 2022.

Maye has the traits that teams picking at the top of the draft dream of having access to. With Caleb Williams and Jayden Daniels off the board, Maye was the ideal choice at No. 3. That's how the majority of fans see it, at least.

Round 2 (No. 34 overall): Kingsley Suamataia, OT, BYU

Highlights of offensive tackle Kingsley Suamataia from BYU

A whopping 10 offensive linemen went off the board in Round 1 in this particular mock-draft simulation. And there were some intriguing options at No. 34 overall. Georgia receiver Ladd McConkey and Oregon speedster Troy Franklin were available, as were big-bodied wideouts like Florida State's Keon Coleman and South Carolina's Xavier Legette.

The people, though, opted for some protection for their young quarterback. Suamataia was the preferred choice.

He's not the most towering figure at the position in this class at 6-foot-5, 326 pounds. But he has the length (34.25-inch arms) and athleticism (9.38 Relative Athletic Score) to qualify for this exercise. His 10-yard split (1.73 seconds) and broad jump (9-foot-2) are signs that he's a particularly coordinated and explosive mover, which you can see in this clip where he's working as the left tackle against Texas

For a Patriots team that could be emphasizing zone running under offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt, getting a player like Suamataia with those kinds of in-space movement skills, he could be a tremendous fit. He's one of just seven tackles in this class who landed on our Prototypical Patriots list this year.

Round 3 (No. 68 overall): Jalen McMillan, WR, Washington

Highlights from Washington Wide Receiver, Jalen McMillan. McMillan got hurt in his third game of 2023 which caused him to miss four games that season and be limited in several others.

Loads of receiver help remains here, making it a little easier for the masses to take a tackle at No. 34. The talent on the line falls off drastically should any team wait until the third round with a glaring hole on the roster to fill.

At No. 68, though, Maye's teammate Devontez Walker is still available. Same goes for talented pass-catchers with varying types like Western Kentucky's Malachi Corley, Florida State's Johnny Wilson and Central Florida's Javon Baker.

But the fans voted overwhelmingly to make Washington's Jalen McMillan the pick here. Are these voters also readers of our Prototypical Patriots series? Perhaps. McMillan was one of just three receivers in the class who checked all six boxes that framed the traits necessary to earn the "Prototypical" designation this year.

McMillan isn't blazing fast, but he ran a 4.47-second 40, and he's one of the best route-runners in the class. Think of him like Jakobi Meyers with a little more horsepower. A true No. 1? Maybe not. But it's the third round. Getting a Meyers type would undoubtedly qualify as a hit.

Round 4 (No. 103 overall): Ben Sinnott, TE, Kansas State

Highlights of Kansas State tight end Ben Sinnott

Interesting spot in the draft. Corley almost fell all the way to the fourth round but instead was scooped up at pick No. 97. Boston College guard Christian Mahogany -- who could be a steal as he gets stronger after playing last season only a year removed from a serious knee injury -- was drafted just a few picks prior. Both would've been fascinating picks for New England.

Still plenty of talent on the board. Kansas tackle (and potential guard at the next level) Dominick Puni is available. Same goes for Kansas State's Cooper Beebe, who has drawn comparisons to Logan Mankins for his size, toughness and football intelligence.

But the fans wanted Beebe's teammate at tight end, Sinnott, to give Maye another weapon with some upside.

Sinnott posted big-time jumps of 40 inches in the vertical and 10-foot-6 in the broad -- in the 97th and 94th percentiles, respectively -- and then put up a very quick shuttle time of 4.23 seconds. 

Sinnott isn't going to be blowing hardened defensive ends off the line of scrimmage one-on-one in the running game at the next level. But he has the size and hands to be a reliable target with some real yards-after-catch ability. He averaged 6.8 yards after the catch per reception last season.

Round 5 (No. 137 overall): Tanor Bortolini, OL, Wisconsin

Another Prototypical Patriot here. Bortolini posted a remarkable short-shuttle time of 4.28 seconds, which led all linemen at this year's combine. He also had an impressive broad jump of 9-foot-4.

Play him at guard. Play him at center. Either one. Your choice, Patriots. He has the mindset and physical traits and well-polished trench-warfare skills to be a regular in the not-too-distant-future.

Might TCU's Brandon Coleman -- an athletic guard-or-tackle chess piece -- be the better choice here given the lack of depth among New England's edge-protectors? Potentially.

But keeping the interior of the pocket clean for Maye, something he wasn't afforded often enough at North Carolina, is a priority. And drafting Bortolini represents a step in the right direction toward that goal.

Round 6 (No. 180 overall): Myles Harden, CB, University of South Dakota

Troy third-down running back Kimani Vidal is enticing here. Same for Southeast Missouri State's size-and-speed pass-catching prospect Ryan Flournoy. But Harden is a lot of fun to watch, and you can't blame fans for going in his direction here. 

Harden is fearless. He throws his body around. And fast. He's not the most straight-line corner hoping to hear his name called on draft weekend. But he posted a lightning-quick 3.98-second shuttle time and a 6.88-second three-cone.

Harden may end up playing safety thanks to his apparent love of contact. But if he can hang in coverage at the next level, he has plenty of traits the Patriots would seem to covet.

Play him in the slot. Play him at safety. Play him on the outside opposite Christian Gonzalez. Just play him. See if his mentality and hard-to-find agility let him stick.

Round 6 (No. 193 overall): Cedric Johnson, EDGE, Ole Miss

I can hear the people now. "Rigged!" And they may have a point. We provided nothing but big-bodied athletes as options in this particular poll.

The Patriots still feel like they have some depth concerns on the end of the line of scrimmage. Yes, Matthew Judon looks like he'll be back. Yes, Deatrich Wise can handle those duties when the Patriots deploy certain fronts. Yes, Anfernee Jennings can handle early-downs on the edge and Josh Uche is under contract to be a pass-rush specialist for another season.

But Johnson would give Mayo another do-it-all type... if he reaches his ceiling.

He's 6-foot-3, 260 pounds and built to withstand linemen trying to grind out space in the running game. He's also athletic enough (4.63-second 40, 38-inch vertical) to make some noise as a pass-rusher. He was especially effective on twists and stunts for the Runnin' Rebels, which could help him carve a role in new defensive coordinator DeMarcus Covington's scheme.

Round 7 (No. 231 overall): Bub Means, WR, Pitt

Pitt wide receiver Bub Means
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Bub Means racked up 721 yards and six touchdowns on 41 catches for Pitt last season.

Final pick on Day 3? Why not take a shot on a physically-gifted receiver? The people clearly liked that approach, given the margin of victory for Means in this poll. 

The former Tennessee corner and Louisiana Tech wideout recorded a 39.5-inch vertical and a 4.43-second 40 at the combine.

Wideouts with his size (6-foot-1, 212 pounds) and his burst don't grow on trees, and if the Patriots get a chance to nab this Shrine Bowl participant on Day 3 -- given what Wolf-tree execs have liked in the past -- maybe they'll will jump at the chance. 

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