Phil Perry

Perry's 2024 Mock Draft 3.0: Pats trade up to No. 1, take Caleb Williams

Is a trade up to No. 1 for Caleb Williams worth the risk for New England?

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As we continue to delve into our 2024 mock-draft permutations, we've found what feels like the right spot on the calendar to suggest something that might... not... actually be in New England's best interest. 

While on Radio Row in Las Vegas ahead of Super Bowl LVIII last week, we had an opportunity to hear from a variety of folks who could share next-level insight on USC quarterback Caleb Williams, the presumed No. 1 overall pick in April. We heard from his head coach Lincoln Riley. We heard from Ashley Adamson, who covered him closely week to week for The Pac-12 Network. And we heard from draft cognoscente Connor Rogers of NBC Sports, who has gone over Williams' tape from afar with a fine-tooth comb.

You can hear from all of them on the latest episode of Next Pats, where we ponder what it might take for the Patriots to get from the No. 3 overall pick to No. 1 in order to take Williams. Their insight is tremendous, particularly for Patriots followers who have questions about whether or not taking the Heisman winner from two seasons ago would be best for their team.

πŸ”Š Next Pats Podcast: Is it worth it for the Patriots to trade up and draft Caleb Williams? | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

Is he the right fit at the right time for Jerod Mayo and his team? Are his on-the-field concerns ones that can be erased at the next level? Are the comparisons to Patrick Mahomes apt enough that Williams is worth the kind of trade capital that would need to be sent to Chicago to make a move up the board realistic? 

If you're asking me, the Patriots should be wary of that kind of move. The compensation sent to Chicago would be significant. His size could be an issue at the next level. He has some ball-security concerns as he becomes a pro. And there are questions about whether he's prepared to lead. 

Riley acknowledged -- in his own way -- that Williams still has some room to grow in that regard. It wasn't a criticism of his quarterback, by any stretch. But it was an acknowledgement that Williams is still relatively inexperienced and can improve in a variety of facets. 

"I think it's just accumulating reps and being in these different situations that you get into as a quarterback," Riley said. "Missed his senior year of high school because of COVID. Didn't really play for us at [Oklahoma] until his freshman year until midway through the season. He's still a young guy. He's grown and he's improved a lot but there's still a lot more left for him to improve on.

"To me, it's in all areas. To me, the biggest thing is he just needs reps. He's just gotta continue to be in these different game situations. He's gotta continue to be in different situations in the locker room where he's gotta get out of his comfort zone and continue to grow. But the potential is certainly there. Obviously he's had some really great results early on in his career, and he has a chance to get a lot better as well."

No player will be fully ready to lead a franchise from the moment he's drafted with the first overall pick. But for the Patriots to pass on the ability to draft a quarterback where they sit at No. 3 -- giving up real draft capital that could be used to improve their roster in the process -- it would only make sense for them if they feel as though Williams is head-and-shoulders above UNC's Drake Maye and LSU's Jayden Daniels in all aspects. 

In this mock, we're painting a scenario in which that's the case -- however unlikely it may be. 

TRADE: New England Patriots and Chicago Bears

  • Bears receive: No. 3 overall, No. 34 overall, No. 68 overall
  • Patriots receive: No. 1 overall

1. New England Patriots (via Bears): Caleb Williams, QB, USC

Listed at 6-foot-1, it'll be interesting to see how Williams measures in when the combine arrives later this month. But he's such an explosive-yet-fluid mover behind the line of scrimmage, he can make up for whatever he lacks in height. He's also listed at 215 pounds, which shows up on tape as he has enough power in his lower half to play through contact when necessary and be a threat to pick up yardage with his legs in the open field. 

It's what he does with his arm, though, that makes him a tantalizing trade-up option. He can throw with accuracy to all areas of the field while dipping to an array of pitches. His fastball is electric, but he can layer throws with touch when needed and do it from a variety of arm angles and platforms.

Sticking with the baseball analogy, he loves the home run. Maybe a little too much, continuously looking for the big play at USC while passing up easier move-the-chains options. And he has a fumbling problem, racking up 33 over the last three years and 16 in 2023 alone. He's a bit of a wild stallion who could use some reining in at the next level -- so long as it doesn't inhibit his incredible playmaking gifts.

It's a lot for the Patriots to give up to make the move to get Williams in this scenario. They won't be picking again until Day 3 if it breaks down this way -- and according to the Jimmy Johnson trade chart, New England's second and third-rounders would be about enough to make up the difference in value between the No. 1 and No. 3 overall picks. (Perhaps No. 34 overall and a future second-rounder would be more palatable for the Patriots since it would allow them to maintain some draft capital in 2024 to surround Williams with more talent in his rookie season.)

This trade, interestingly, would be the 14th for the No. 1 overall pick since 1967, not including deals for Eli Manning, Bo Jackson and John Elway that occurred after the draft had started. It would be the shortest move up to No. 1 in that time frame, with the closest and most recent comp to this mocked Patriots-Bears deal being a 2001 swap that sent No. 5 overall, a third-rounder and a 2002 second-rounder as well as receiver Tim Dwight from San Diego to Atlanta in exchange for the pick that was used to draft Michael Vick. 

In the two decades since that particular trade, the quarterback position has only become more valuable, helping to explain what might be considered an overpay by New England to give up a second and third-rounder to jump only two draft slots. By comparison, the Falcons only gave up the equivalent of two third-rounders (future picks are typically devalued by one round in trades) and a veteran receiver to move up four spots. 

Should the Patriots trade up to number 1 spot in the NFL Draft to get Caleb Williams? Phil Perry explains why he doesn't believe they should.

2. Washington Commanders: Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU

Washington needs a quarterback, and they're able to get one who is a walking explosive play fresh off a Heisman-winning season.

TRADE: Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings

  • Vikings receive: No. 3 overall 
  • Bears receive: No. 11 overall, No. 42 overall, 2025 first-round pick

3. Minnesota Vikings (via Bears): Drake Maye, QB, UNC

The Vikings give up a second-rounder and their first for next year to get from No. 11 overall to No. 3. It's a costly move for them, but they should want to get younger and cheaper at the quarterback position -- giving them more upside in the process -- as they figure out a way to extend their star receiver Justin Jefferson, who needs a new contract.

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

Could the Cards go with a tackle here? They could. DJ Humphries isn't getting any younger. Instead, they roll with the best receiver in the class.

5. Los Angeles Chargers: Rome Odunze, WR, Washington

Size. Hands. Body control. Mindset. There's a lot to like in Odunze, and the gap between him and Harrison may not be all that vast.

6. New York Giants: Malik Nabers, WR, LSU

Does anyone want a defender? Or a lineman? Anyone? Nope. And it makes sense. This run on receivers ends with the Giants getting a blue-chip talent with next-level explosiveness.

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

Peter Skoronski last year. Alt this year. The Titans are trying to build through the trenches, and they land the top lineman in the class in the process.

8. Atlanta Falcons: Dallas Turner, EDGE, Alabama

The Falcons seem to be in need of pass-rush help every season. They get the top guy available here in Turner, who has the length and athleticism to be a disruptive presence in Year 1.

9. Chicago Bears: Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia

Chicago is loaded up with first and second-round picks for both this year and next year in this scenario. By trading out from No. 1 overall to No. 3 and then No. 11 -- committing to another year of Justin Fields in doing so -- they still have a chance to nab two of the best players in the class. Bowers is a best-player-available pick here, and a security-blanket weapon for the Bears' fourth-year quarterback.

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

The Jets remain in dire need of tackle help. Fashanu might've been the top tackle taken last year but stayed at Happy Valley. He's still a bit raw, but he has the upside to turn into a franchise cornerstone at one of the game's most important positions.

11. Chicago Bears (via Vikings): Taliese Fuaga, OL, Oregon State

Chicago moved from No. 3 overall -- not convinced by any of the available quarterbacks in this mock scenario -- to No. 11 and picked up a less-than-sexy but still sneaky-impactful lineman while adding to its coffer of picks. Fuaga is a mauler who could play guard or tackle and will help build up the infrastructure around Fields. 

With their trades from No. 1 to No. 3 to No. 11 in this mock, the Bears picked up Fuaga, two second-round picks, a third-round pick and a future first-rounder. Not a bad haul if they're not believers in the rookie options at quarterback.

12. Denver Broncos: J.J. McCarthy, QB, Michigan

Is this too high for a player who didn't actually throw the football all that often as a member of the run-happy Wolverines? Maybe. But there's plenty there on tape for coach Sean Payton to be intrigued by McCarthy's potential in Denver.

13. Las Vegas Raiders: JC Latham, OT, Alabama

If Vegas wants to build a bully under Antonio Pierce, few better ways to do it than grabbing the behemoth Latham.

14. New Orleans Saints: Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State

Under Mickey Loomis, the Saints have had no issues chasing pass-rushers early in the draft. Verse is a big-time athlete with positional versatility who already looks like he's ready to jar pro lineman with his power.

15. Indianapolis Colts: Terrion Arnold, CB, Alabama

Could Quinyon Mitchell end up being the top corner off the board? Maybe. But Arnold has an impressive track record against high-end talent in the SEC, and the Colts couldn't be faulted for pulling the trigger on him here.

16. Seattle Seahawks: Bo Nix, QB, Oregon

Nix didn't blow anyone away at the Senior Bowl. Seattle will view that as their opportunity to draft a guy who impressed as a collegian just up the road at Oregon over the last two seasons. He threw 74 touchdowns against just 10 picks with the Ducks in 2022 and 2023.

17. Jacksonville Jaguars: Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo

Speaking of the Senior Bowl... Hard to impress folks more than Mitchell did there. Playing a lower-level of competition in the regular season, he was clearly prepared to take on -- and shut down -- better talent down in Mobile, Ala.

18. Cincinnati Bengals: Amarius Mims, OT, Georgia

No better way to protect the crown jewel of your franchise ,Joe Burrow, than by giving him a massive tackle. Mims has started just eight games in three years but has coveted traits at a position where it's hard to find the physical traits to thrive there.

19. Los Angeles Rams: Tyler Guyton, OT, Oklahoma

Another Senior Bowl winner, Guyton could get out to Los Angeles and chip in to Sean McVay's offense immediately. 

20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Michael Penix, QB, Washington

For some teams, Penix's medical history might be an issue. But the Steelers know that Kenny Pickett isn't enough. 

21. Miami Dolphins: Troy Fautanu, OL, Washington

Huskies are flying off the board. The Dolphins -- yet again -- need real help on the offensive line. Fautanu can play guard or tackle and play at a starting-caliber level in short order.

22. Philadelphia Eagles: Jackson Powers-Johnson, OL, Oregon

An interior lineman with an NFL-ready mind and the versatility to play guard or center, Powers-Johnson will help reshuffle the line in Philly in the wake of Jason Kelce's retirement. 

23. Houston Texans: Laiatu Latu, EDGE, UCLA

How Latu tests may impact his standing in the first round. But he is a first-round talent. And the Texans could, with Latu's addition, suddenly possess sack artists on both sides of the line after taking Will Anderson at the top of the first round a year ago.

24. Dallas Cowboys: Graham Barton, OL, Duke

Zack Martin remains one of the best linemen in the game, but he isn't getting any younger, and Barton is one of the top interior offensive line prospects in this year's class.

25. Green Bay Packers: Ennis Rakestraw, CB, Missouri

Green Bay could use a third corner with good quickness and a willingness to tackle to play in the slot. Rakestraw has all of those qualities and would give new defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley a versatile piece with whom to play.

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Brian Thomas Jr., WR, LSU

The Bucs either need to replace Mike Evans (set to be a free agent) or get a future replacement for him. Thomas is a boundary threat with real juice.

27. Arizona Cardinals: Cooper DeJean, DB, Iowa 

The Cards would be drafting a player who could play a variety of different roles in the secondary for defensive-minded head coach Jonathan Gannon. Though surrounding Kyle Murray with offensive talent should be enticing here, DeJean is too good to allow him to continue to slide.

28. Buffalo Bills: Troy Franklin, WR, Oregon

With speed for days, Franklin would give the Bills another weapon for Josh Allen. With Stefon Diggs seemingly waffling on his future in Buffalo on a regular basis these days, investing in pass-catchers isn't a bad idea for coach Sean McDermott.

29. Detroit Lions: Nate Wiggins, CB, Clemson

Wiggins may be too good to last this long given his length (6-foot-2, 185 pounds) and his speed. But if he does, the Lions should pounce.

30. Baltimore Ravens: Darius Robinson, DL, Missouri

One of the better 'tweeners in this year's draft class, Robinson seems like the kind of player the Ravens would be able to slot into their system and help him find immediate success. If the Ravens lose Justin Madubuike to free agency, they'll be looking for grind-it-out pass-rush help up front.

31. San Francisco 49ers: Keon Coleman, WR, Florida State

Coleman is a gargantuan wideout who could, given the competitive nature he possesses at the catch point, have the want-to to be an impact blocker. San Francisco may have to move on from one of their highly-paid wideouts this season to make room for other contracts, so adding Coleman to get cheaper offensively could be the play.

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

Patrick Mahomes doesn't need much. But if he had an impact wideout last season, his run to a second-consecutive Super Bowl might've been a tad easier. Mitchell is a big-time outside-the-numbers target at 6-foot-4 and almost 200 pounds. And in Kansas City's offense, where an ability to freelance is valued, Mitchell's unpolished route-running won't be a glaring deficiency in his game.

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