New England Patriots

2024 NFL Mock Draft roundup: Patriots take QB with first-round pick

It's hard to pass on a top QB prospect early in the NFL Draft.

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The New England Patriots have so many roster needs to address in the 2024 NFL Draft.

They need major upgrades at wide receiver, tight end and the offensive line. The defense is in better shape, but another pass-rushing linebacker and a safety -- especially if Kyle Dugger isn't re-signed -- would be strong additions as well.

But there's one position that is most in need of high-end talent, and that's quarterback.

Quarterback is the most important position on the field, and it's very hard to win games without consistently good play in that role. The Patriots are finding that out first hand this season with Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe struggling mightily.

The good news for the Patriots is that they will likely get a top-three pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. This draft class is highlighted by several talented quarterbacks who could be first-round picks. The top two prospects are USC's Caleb Williams and UNC's Drake Maye. They might go No. 1 and No. 2 overall in some order. Oregon's Bo Nix, Washington's Michael Penix Jr. and LSU's Jayden Daniels are intriguing prospects, too.

The Patriots currently own the No. 2 pick, and if they remain in that spot come April, Maye might be the best option available to them at quarterback -- assuming Williams is taken No. 1 overall.

Maye has all the physical tools scouts love. He's 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds with a rocket arm. He also has the elusiveness and athleticism to escape the pocket and pick up yards with his legs.

Maye completed 63.3 percent of his passes for 3,608 yards with 24 touchdowns and nine interceptions this season. He helped North Carolina earn a 8-4 record despite the team having a horrible defense.

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It might be tempting for the Patriots to draft Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr., or even a left tackle like Penn State's Olu Fashanu with a top-three pick. But the most logical path back to being a contender for the Patriots is upgrading at quarterback. It's not the only step -- they'll still need to surround that player with enough talent at the skill positions -- but it's a good foundation to have for future success.

Which players might the Patriots target early in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft? Here the most recent projections from expert mock drafts.

Trevor Sikkema, Pro Football Focus: Drake Maye, QB, UNC

Ryan Wilson, CBS Sports: Caleb Williams, QB, USC

Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz, USA TODAY: Drake Maye, QB, UNC

Joseph Acosta, SB Nation: Drake Maye, QB, UNC

Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: Drake Maye, QB, UNC

A.J. Schulte, Pro Football Network: Drake Maye, QB, UNC

Walter Football: Drake Maye, QB, UNC

Drafttek: Drake Maye, QB, UNC

Tankathon: Drake Maye, QB, UNC

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