Choose Your Patriots QB

Choose Your Patriots QB: Does trading up for Caleb Williams make sense?

Caleb Williams is an exciting prospect, but is he worth the steep cost of trading for the No. 1 pick?

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Editor's Note: The New England Patriots have a franchise-altering decision to make at quarterback this offseason. As part of our "Choose Your Patriots QB" series, we'll highlight five different paths the team can take at QB in 2024, laying out the pros and cons of each choice.

Today's scenario involves New England making a trade with the Chicago Bears to acquire the No. 1 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, and then using that selection to take USC QB Caleb Williams.

The New England Patriots are in the fortunate position of having the No. 3 pick in the NFL Draft during a year where there are multiple quarterbacks who could become franchise cornerstone players.

The top QBs in the 2024 class are USC's Caleb Williams, UNC's Drake Maye and LSU's Jayden Daniels. While all three project to be very good players at the pro level, Williams is consistently rated higher than Maye and Daniels. He's even drawn comparisons to Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers (more on that below).

If Williams really is a tier above these guys, does it make sense for the Patriots to move up in the draft order by acquiring the No. 1 pick from the Chicago Bears?

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

The Bears were in a similar position last year and traded the No. 1 pick to the Panthers for a massive haul, including Carolina's 2024 first-rounder, which ended up being the No. 1 pick in 2024. This is a different year, and Williams is a better prospect than Bryce Young, who the Panthers took first overall in 2023. But that trade also highlighted the enormous risks of moving up to the No. 1 spot, and how doing so can set a franchise back years.

Let's list some of the pros and cons of the Patriots trading up to No. 1 and selecting Williams, as spotlighted in the video player above:

Pros to trading up for Williams

Elite QB prospect: Williams has great arm strength and is able to make the kind of off-platform throws on the run that are really hard to defend against. When the play breaks down or the pocket collapses, he still finds ways to pick up yards, either by finding the open man or running with the football himself. He has all the physical tools that scouts love.

Player Comp: Williams' ability to improvise and scramble out of pressure has drawn comparisons to Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes -- the best player in the sport. Many of the top QBs in the league -- including Mahomes, Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts, Lamar Jackson, etc. -- have this kind of skill set.

Cons to trading up for Williams

Maturity: Williams' maturity has been a hot topic of debate in recent months. He painted "F--- Utah" on his fingernails before losing to the Utes in the 2022 Pac-12 Championship Game. He cried with his mother in the stands after losing to Washington in November. He declined to speak to the media after USC lost to rival UCLA in their final regular season game.

How will he handle being a leader of men in the NFL, especially on a team like the Patriots that might lose a lot of games over the next few seasons? The QB has to be the face of the franchise and speak to the media regularly.

Difficult 2023 season: It's no secret that USC struggled in 2023 despite entering the season as the No. 6 ranked team with national title aspirations. The Trojans finished 7-5, with all five losses coming in their last six games. Williams went 0-4 vs. teams that were ranked at the time USC played them. He averaged 264.5 passing yards with a total of five touchdown passes and three interceptions in those games. His performance against Notre Dame on the road, particularly in the first half, was atrocious.

In fairness, the Pac-12 was a really strong conference last season and USC's defense was bad, but Williams' lack of dominance in big games was noticeable. The Washington matchup was the only one of the four where he really shined.

Albert Breer and Ted Johnson joined Michael Felger on "Sports Sunday" to discuss USC QB Caleb Williams, and how concerning a couple of recent incidents off the field may be

What's your take?

Should the Patriots trade up for Williams or choose from one of four other QB paths? Cast your vote in the poll below or by visiting our Patriots Vote page:

The Verdict

When you look at all of the quarterbacks in the 2024 draft class, Williams has the best chance of becoming a franchise player. His skill set is ideal for the modern NFL game. Williams also has three years of college experience, including a Heisman Trophy-winning campaign in 2022. He's ready for the next step.

Despite all of that, the cost to acquire the No. 1 pick and select Williams likely is too steep to really justify. The Patriots have so many roster needs to address over the next few drafts, which makes gutting their draft capital (a future first-round pick and several other valuable picks) for one player really risky.

If they take Daniels or Maye at No. 3 and it doesn't work out, they can try again at quarterback with their 2025 first-round pick. But if the Patriots move up for Williams and he doesn't pan out, they won't have that luxury because of the cost it took to get him. As our John Tomase recently explored, trading up for the No. 1 pick has rarely worked out for teams over the last 30 or so years.

There's also a good debate about whether the gap between Williams and Daniels/Maye is large enough to justify giving up multiple premium trade assets for the top pick.

Williams is a fantastic player, but the expected cost to move up to No. 1 is just too high. The risk does not outweigh the reward for the Patriots, especially when they can still take a top-tier QB prospect at No. 3. It would be different if they were in the No. 5 to No. 10 pick range.

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