The New England Patriots don't have a franchise quarterback, so how do they find one as quickly as possible?
Mac Jones was supposed to be that kind of player when the Patriots selected him out of Alabama with the No. 15 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. After a good rookie campaign, Jones has struggled mightily since the beginning of the 2022 season. He has thrown 10 interceptions -- the second-most of any QB this season -- and is 2-8 as a starter in 2023. Jones was benched again last week in a 10-6 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Germany.
The Patriots haven't announced a starter for their next game -- a Week 12 matchup against the Giants in New York -- but would it surprise you if Bailey Zappe or Will Grier starts?
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Moving forward, the 2024 NFL Draft likely is the best place for the Patriots to find their next quarterback. While there are a bunch of intriguing players at the position in the upcoming class, two stand out far above the rest, and they are USC's Caleb Williams and North Carolina's Drake Maye.
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If the Patriots earn a top two pick and have the chance to draft Williams or Maye, can they afford to pass on either one and opt for a wide receiver like Ohio State's Marvin Harrison Jr., or even a left tackle such as Penn State's Olu Fashanu?
Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry discussed that topic on a new episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast.
"I think if you have one of those picks, you have to end up with one of those players," Perry said. "I think they're that good. You can't pass on what might be a franchise quarterback, even if you think it's only a might be. ..."
"If you have the opportunity to do it, and if you were to pass on it and land on a great receiver like Marvin Harrison Jr., or a great offensive tackle, you would be kicking yourself for decades if one of these guys did turn into the franchise quarterback you think he might be."
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A lot can change in the draft order from now until the Week 18 regular season finale. New England currently owns the No. 3 pick. And if the Patriots are in a position where they're outside the top two but want to trade up for Williams or Maye, there are other teams with better assets to get a deal done.
"Unfortunately for the Patriots, there are a lot of bad teams in this league, and you have some bad teams that have a lot of draft capital and could blow somebody away for the No. 1 overall pick," Perry said. "And all of a sudden you're leapfrogged by two teams that are desperate for a quarterback and you don't have a chance to take either Williams or Maye."
Taking one of these quarterbacks won't solve all of the Patriots' problems on offense. You still need to surround that player with enough talent at the skill positions and put together a good enough offensive line. The Carolina Panthers took quarterback Bryce Young with the No. 1 pick last April and he's really struggling because there's almost no talent around him."
So there will be plenty of work for the Patriots either way, but having the right quarterback in place does make everything a little easier.
Also in this episode:
- Reaction to Mac Jones taking first-team reps on Wednesday
- Would it hurt Bill Belichick’s resume to start Bailey Zappe?