Phil Perry

2024 NFL Mock Draft: Where Patriots stand on QB with No. 3 pick

Here's our best guess for how Round 1 in Detroit will unfold based on what we're hearing.

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It's been some ride, hasn't it? We've been through all sorts of permutations. We've hashed out a plethora of scenarios.

We've had the Patriots standing pat and taking a quarterback. We've had them trading back and stockpiling assets. We've even let you drive the bus on the most important draft in the history of Robert Kraft's ownership of the franchise.

Now let's see how many of these picks we can actually nail, shall we? Here's our final Round 1 mock draft for 2024, with some notes on what we've heard for each pick along the way. (Check out our final seven-round, Patriots-specific mock draft to see our predictions for all eight of the team's picks.)

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

This will be the pick. But not everyone is totally sold this is going to work.

"If I were choosing, I'd be going with [Jayden] Daniels," said one NFC offensive coordinator. "[Williams] has some [expletive] to him -- in a good and a bad way," said an NFC evaluator whose team is in the quarterback market.

"He's going to a pretty good situation with Keenan Allen, DJ Moore and Cole Kmet. It's a good locker room. Those guys should help him out. But it might take some time."

2. Washington Commanders: Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU

Despite being what one NFC personnel executive described as a "handful" throughout the pre-draft process -- beyond the kerfuffle following the Commanders' Topgolf visit with some of the draft's top quarterbacks -- this still feels like the pick. The two sides have ironed things out since that visit, I've been told.

"If he makes another leap like the one he had from last year to this year, you're talking about a dude," said one AFC quarterbacks coach. "Like, maybe one of the five best quarterbacks in the league."

3. New England Patriots: Drake Maye, QB, UNC

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

For months now, conversations with Patriots staffers have revolved around Jayden Daniels and Drake Maye. Maye and Daniels. Daniels and Maye. While J.J. McCarthy could be a consideration later in the draft should the Patriots be bowled over by a trade offer, that seems unlikely.

Maye has the kind of arm that will help him play through the elements in Foxboro, and he's impressed in all of his pre-draft meetings with the organization thanks to what he's shown from a football IQ standpoint. The coaching staff is confident in its ability to iron out whatever mechanical issues Maye may take with him to his new home, and some insist -- due to coaching and personnel changes in 2023 -- his 2022 film is a much better indicator of what he'll be with the right people in his ear.

He's the shortest and youngest in an athletic and uber-competitive family -- the runt, so to speak -- which the Patriots like. He had to scratch and claw to keep up and it's helped turn him into the competitor he is. While he shows what is at times a happy-go-lucky Southern demeanor, the Patriots know he has an edge to him that has been made apparent throughout the process that belies that aw-shucks facade.

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

The Cardinals love both Harrison and Malik Nabers, but let's give them the chalkier pick here, assuming some late-in-the-process fact-finding done on Harrison was enough to push this pick over this choice over the finish line.

TRADE: Los Angeles Chargers and Minnesota Vikings

  • Vikings receive: No. 5 pick
  • Chargers receive: No. 11 pick and Vikings' 2025 first-round pick

5. Minnesota Vikings (via Chargers): J.J. McCarthy, QB, Michigan

The Vikings would have to give up a future first-rounder to get here, and they would've loved to get to No. 3 overall to get Drake Maye, but they're still hungry for a quarterback. Sticking at No. 11 overall and waiting for McCarthy to get there is risky business.

Would the Broncos move up ahead of the Vikes if McCarthy falls out of the top five? I've heard since the combine that there is a very real possibility of quarterbacks going off the board with the first four picks.

Understanding Arizona's love for this crop of wideouts -- and understanding that the Cards would miss on one if they go all the way back to No. 11 -- let's project that the top-four passers are gone by the time the Giants are on the clock.

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

"He's a legit No. 1," one NFC receivers coach told me. "He might not have the upside of Harrison or Nabers, but he's not far off."

Teams have been wowed by Odunze during the process. He loves football. He's likable. He's smart. The Giants may have been dying for the chance to draft Maye -- I've heard they've been in touch with him throughout the process and told him they're going to do what they can to move up -- but Odunze is a fine consolation prize.

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

This feels like one of the best fits in the first round. The Titans have a need at tackle, and Alt is considered by scouts to be the best and safest in the class among the guys who project to play on the left side.

New Titans head coach Brian Callahan, son of one of the greatest offensive line coaches in NFL history, gets his guy.

8. Atlanta Falcons: Byron Murphy, DT, Texas

Dallas Turner from Alabama is still on the board here and is thought by many to have a good chance to be the first defensive player taken. But there are teams who have some football character questions about Turner, whose athleticism is tantalizing.

Murphy, meanwhile, has rare lower-body explosiveness and could end up being the most disruptive passing-game player in this class as an interior defender. Grady Jarrett is on the other side of 30, and there would be few better vets from whom Murphy could learn.

9. Chicago Bears: Malik Nabers, WR, LSU

Highlights of LSU star wide receiver Malik Nabers

Think this one would have Bears fans excited? "His speed is just different," said one NFC receivers coach.

Nabers doesn't come without some off-the-field questions, but in a locker room with two accomplished veteran receivers, he would be welcome. And he'd provide even more horsepower to an offense that has plenty of weaponry.

The receiving trio of D.J. Moore, Keenan Allen and Nabers would quickly be one of the most dynamic in football. Not a bad situation for a rookie passer.

10. New York Jets: Troy Fautanu, OT, Washington

Don't forget where general manager Joe Douglas learned his craft, I've been told recently. He came up with the Ravens and Ozzie Newsome. He worked under Howie Roseman in Philly.

While it's not a hard-and-fast rule that these guys have taken bigger bodies in the first round no matter what, they have a reputation of building out from the trenches. This is an opportunity for Douglas to protect Aaron Rodgers and take one of the most versatile linemen in the draft.

11. Los Angeles Chargers (via Vikings): JC Latham, OT, Alabama

Jim Harbaugh has a need at right tackle. And there may not be a more impressive right tackle prospect in this class than Latham.

He's a mammoth human being who's still only 21 years old and will help Harbaugh establish exactly what he's looking for in an offensive identity. The Chargers landed a 2025 first-round pick in this trade down.

TRADE: Denver Broncos and Philadelphia Eagles

  • Eagles receive: No. 12 pick
  • Broncos receive: No. 22 pick and No. 50 pick

12. Philadelphia Eagles (via Broncos): Taliese Fuaga, OT, Oregon State

I've heard Philly connected with a variety of linemen and cornerbacks… But Roseman has never drafted a corner in the first round, and I'm guessing he won't break that trend on Thursday night.

Instead, he climbs up the board from No. 22 overall before there's a bit of a drop in the quality of tackle prospects -- specifically ones who look like good fits on the right side. Fuaga is a perfect fit in that he can play inside early in his career and then take over for Lane Johnson whenever the time is right.

The Eagles gave Denver No. 50 overall -- one of their two second-rounders -- to move up 10 slots here.

13. Las Vegas Raiders: Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington

Highlights of Washington quarterback Michael Penix, Jr.

The Raiders want Jayden Daniels. And Jayden Daniels would love to end up in Vegas. But I'm not sure the Raiders are going to be able to cobble together a realistic-enough offer to get all the way to No. 3 (should Daniels fall to that spot), never mind No. 2, where the Commanders have let it be known they're sticking.

The next best thing? Take a quarterback who can sling it down the field and be the trigger man for a long-ball offense that would make Al Davis proud.

14. New Orleans Saints: Olu Fashanu, OT, Penn State

The Saints have been all over tackles during the process, and Fashanu projects as exactly the kind of left-tackle-with-upside they could use.

Despite his small hands (8.5 inches, which didn't crack the fist percentile of tackles at the combine over the last two decades), he has enough in the way of athleticism to warrant a selection in the top half of the first round.

15. Indianapolis Colts: Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia

Bowers may be one of the most accomplished offensive weapons in this year's draft class, but he's also not universally viewed as a cornerstone piece for a championship-caliber offense.

Doesn't matter to Indy in this scenario. They go get him as a means to helping improve the situation around second-year quarterback Anthony Richardson.

16. Seattle Seahawks: Dallas Turner, ED, Alabama

To land this kind of talent at this point in the draft? Not a bad way to kick off the weekend for general manager John Schneider.

"Good length, good bend, really explosive," said one NFC defensive assistant. "He has a lot going for him. He's not a bad kid. He's just a little naive. His maturity might be a bit of an issue for some." 

17. Jacksonville Jaguars: Terrion Arnold, CB, Alabama

Arnold has an impressive track record against high-end talent in the SEC, and the Jags couldn't be faulted for pulling the trigger on him here. They need corner help badly in Duval County.

Arnold ran in the 4.5-second range in the 40, but teams don't seem to be all that bothered by that particular metric with him. He's a versatile, well-rounded defender, and he has a strong track record against some of the best competition in the country.

18. Cincinnati Bengals: Amarius Mims, OT, Georgia

With only eight starts for the Bulldogs under his belt, Mims is a p-word prospect. It's all about potential with him. That can be good and bad. His size and athleticism is off the charts, and Cincy may be willing to roll the dice on those traits paying off.

"He fits in the freak category," Bengals coach Frank Pollack told former Bengals lineman and team broadcaster Dave Lapham. "They shouldn't make human beings that size that can move like him. He's insane."

19. Los Angeles Rams: Brian Thomas Jr., WR, LSU

Imagine Sean McVay adding to the bevy of weapons at Matthew Stafford's disposal with this legitimate deep threat?

If the Rams are trying to max out Stafford's window, giving him a down-the-field weapon to play alongside Puka Nacua and Cooper Kupp would make for fireworks in Los Angeles.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo

Mike Tomlin needs corners. He may prefer Cooper DeJean here as someone who is going to play a hard-hitting style in the secondary. But Mitchell was one of the best players at this year's Senior Bowl, which Tomlin and the Steelers love dipping into annually. And Mitchell is no slouch when it comes to getting ball-carriers on the ground.

His combination of football wherewithal and eye-popping athleticism -- 4.33-second 40 at 6-foot-1, 195 pounds -- is too good to pass up here.

21. Miami Dolphins: Graham Barton, OL, Duke

The Dolphins just lost a hulking guard to free agency in Robert Hunt. Barton could kick inside after playing tackle in college and take over that vacancy for a team that's badly in need of help on the line of scrimmage.

Would it be a lot of fun to put Texas speedster Xavier Worthy here, making it damn near impossible to match up with Miami passing-game weapons? Sure it would. But this pick is about the Dolphins eating their vegetables.

22. Denver Broncos (via Eagles): Bo Nix, QB, Oregon

Highlights of Oregon Ducks quarterback Bo Nix

Nix gets rid of the football quickly, doesn't turn it over, and has enough playmaking ability to be able to create with his legs. Sound like someone Sean Payton might be interested in?

Payton can work with what might be viewed at times as Nix's fidgety play-style in the pocket. The Broncos picked up a second-round pick by moving back and taking Nix in a range that makes a little more sense for him and his skill set. 

23. Minnesota Vikings (via Browns): Jer'Zhan Newton, DT, Illinois

The difference between some of these top-rated defensive front-seven players this year isn't going to be all that great from team-to-team. Newton, therefore, could potentially even go higher than this.

Durable and productive, Newton has the kind of quickness and desire to be a consistently-disruptive force.

24. Dallas Cowboys: Adonai Mitchell, WR, Texas

There will be teams who have questions about Mitchell's fit in their locker room. "Very emotional kid," said one NFC offensive assistant. "Extremely talented. People have to decide whether their culture can handle him day to day."

His talent as one of the most gifted big-bodied wideouts in the class is undeniable, and the Cowboys could use a player of his ilk.

25. Green Bay Packers: Cooper DeJean, CB, Iowa

Think fresh-to-town defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley -- former Boston College head coach and former 49ers defensive backs coach -- would appreciate getting a versatile chess piece for his secondary like DeJean?

Play him at corner. Play him at safety. Wherever he ends up, odds are he'll find the football and get to it quickly.

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Laiatu Latu, ED, UCLA

Polish, polish, polish. He won't be the freakiest edge defender in the class. And he had a neck injury that caused University of Washington doctors to medically retire him that NFL teams will have to investigate.

But, after transferring to the Bruins and getting back on the field, he showed he could be a master of his craft at the next level.

27. Arizona Cardinals (via Texans): Nate Wiggins, CB, Clemson

I wouldn't rule out an offensive lineman here, even after Arizona signed Jonah Williams in free agency, but Wiggins gives the Cardinals the kind of size and speed that teams covet at the corner spot.

He also has gotten evaluators fired up for flashing the kind of all-out effort that could help him turn himself into a game-changer at the next level.

28. Buffalo Bills: Jared Verse, ED, Florida State

The Bills need a wideout badly, but they can't bring themselves to let Verse continue to slide in this scenario.

"This guy is powerful," said one NFC evaluator. "He's more straight-line. He's not necessarily beating you with speed. He's not going to be a 14-sack-a-year guy, but very solid. He'll be great against the run."

29. Detroit Lions: Chop Robinson, ED, Penn State

This isn't the best class of freak-show defenders we've ever seen, but Robinson quite possibly could end up being the best of the bunch.

"He can roll," said an NFC linebackers coach. "I'm not saying he's Dwight Freeney, but... He's seen by some teams as a DPR (designated pass-rusher). But I think he's more than that. He'll play the run. He has the want-to for it. He has the mindset."

Sound like the kind of player Dan Campbell would appreciate?

30. Baltimore Ravens:  Tyler Guyton, OT, Oklahoma

There is some question as to whether or not Guyton's approach to his craft and his relative inexperience (just 14 starts at tackle and only one on the left side) will cause him to slide right out of the first round.

If that's the case, the Patriots could pounce early in the second round. His traits are hard to find.

31. San Francisco 49ers: Jordan Morgan, OL, Arizona

The more I ask about this group of linemen who appear to be borderline first-rounders, the more I feel as though Morgan is going to be taken in the first 32 picks on Thursday night.

His athleticism and ability to kick inside to guard will be enticing to a team like San Francisco that already has oodles of playmaking talent and could use a dependable piece on the line of scrimmage. 

32. Kansas City Chiefs: Xavier Legette, WR, South Carolina

Legette is getting some late-in-the-process first-round buzz. "Super impressive on tape," said one NFC evaluator. "Pretty raw... But he's at or near the top of the list of those guys (after Harrison, Odunze, Nabers and Thomas)."

Legette is well-liked by the Panthers, too, meaning there are a handful of teams that could scoop this Prototypical Patriot up before he ever gets to No. 34 overall

Highlights of South Carolina wide receiver Xavier Legette
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