Tom E. Curran

Curran: This is the year for Patriots to make a bold draft move


A word of unsolicited draft advice from a 47-year follower of the New England Patriots who’s been fortunate enough to cover them for 27 of those years?


Everybody says it’s an average draft? Teams are turning up their noses to the top of the class as being not deep with alleged first-round talent? Good. The Patriots don’t read off the same script as everyone else anyway. With 11 picks overall and six in the first 135, it’s a great chance to work this draft like they’ve never done before.

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There are nine wide receivers in the 33rd Team's top 50 prospects. There are eight offensive tackles. There are eight EDGE players. There are eight cornerbacks. There are five tight ends.

That’s 38 of the top 50 players at positions of immediate or looming need for New England.

There are five quarterbacks in the top 20, including Will Levis as the No. 1 prospect and Hendon Hooker at 20. There’s one Bijan Robinson.

The Patriots, it would appear, can eat.

This draft has the potential to be as chaotic as any we’ve ever seen. The "f*** them picks" mentality that’s in vogue right now, the willingness of teams to deal, the constantly wandering eyes of organizations and fanbases when it comes to young quarterbacks -- it means everything’s on the table.

Does that mean Mac Jones could be on the table?

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: If the Patriots move on from Jones now, Bill Belichick might as well print "I EFFED UP" T-shirts and sell them in the Pro Shop. Jones was the 15th pick. He was good as a rookie. He was even better according to Belichick when training camp started last summer

Now he’s no good? And the team’s going to reboot with Bailey Zappe, whichever first-rounder they would potentially target or someone else’s refuse? Come on.

Perry's final 2023 NFL Mock Draft: Patriots find their lockdown CB

I also said earlier this offseason that Jones would be traded over Robert Kraft’s dead body. And the owner seemed fit last time I saw him. So there’s that. It makes no sense for a coach sitting on a seat that’s warm to the touch to defy his owner’s preference.

Why quit on a first-round QB still on his rookie contract? Because he was pissed his second season was punted away so a couple pals being paid by other teams could try their hand running a real, live, NFL offense? Come on.

So there’s 164 words on something I can’t foresee happening. Would it shock me? Yes. Would it be aggressive? I suppose. Aggressively stupid, but yes. Aggressive.

But what I have more in mind is the Patriots spinning later picks to move forward. The Patriots aren’t alone in having an abundance of picks. The Raiders and Texans have 12 apiece. The Packers, Rams and 49ers each have 11 picks. Meanwhile, nine teams have six picks or fewer. Three of them are in the AFC East (Miami has just four; the Jets and Bills have five and six respectively) but the Broncos, Eagles, Panthers, Vikings and Titans might want to dance.

And I would bet (as I’m sure you would, too) that the Patriots are going to inquire. This is a can’t-lose week for the Patriots in terms of getting who they want as positions of need. Now, whether who they want can actually contribute? That’s for down the road.  

Meanwhile, as for moves that might surprise but not shock me? Here are three.

Using a SECOND ROUND pick on a quarterback

Namely, Hendon Hooker from Tennessee, who had 58 touchdowns and five picks his last two seasons, was the SEC Player of the Year and brings to the table running ability that neither Jones nor Zappe has.

Selecting Bijan Robinson at 14

Why would they take a running back when they have a top-10 back in Rhamondre Stevenson? Why would they take a running back when the position is devalued across the league? Why would they take a running back when the best players turn into broken down money pits before 29?

Because if you look at Robinson and squint hard you can see Christian McCaffrey. Or Marshall Faulk. A player who can devastate defenses on third down as a pass-catcher and rip them up on first and second down on the ground.

Not ALL the time. You still have Stevenson to ride (which the Patriots did to an unhealthy extent last year) but now you have a human mismatch that the Patriots offense hasn’t had since Julian Edelman’s knee started to turn to sawdust.

Also, because nobody thinks the Patriots would draft Bijan Robinson and nobody loves to smugly steal attention with "HE DID WHAT?" moves than Bill Belichick.


Taking a tight end in the first round

There are two rated as first-rounders. Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer and Dalton Kincaid from Utah.

Mayer is more of a conventional tight end who can produce in the passing game and get it done as a blocker (Mark Andrews and Jason Witten would be comps). Kincaid can play a Travis Kelce-esque role in an offense as a hybrid tight end/wide receiver.

Perry: Belichick must be salivating over this TE class

The Patriots have a Mayer. His name is Hunter Henry. They also have a Kincaid. His name is Mike Gesicki. Both guys are up after this season and the amount of Bob Kraft’s money and draft picks Belichick’s torched since 2020 trying to get good tight ends is breathtaking. So, in for a dime, in for a dollar. Go get another one.

The Patriots can sit tight at 14 and take a cornerback or a tackle and that will be just fine. But if they don’t pick again until 46 and 76, where they currently stand? That would feel like a massive missed opportunity.

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