Next Pats Podcast

Ex-NFL GM thinks all three top QB prospects in draft have chance to be stars

Does it make sense for the Patriots to pass on a QB with the No. 3 pick?

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The New England Patriots are not only lucky to own the No. 3 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, they are fortunate to have a very high pick in a year where multiple quarterbacks are seen as potential franchise players.

It could be worse. If you needed a quarterback in the 2013 NFL Draft, you were in trouble. Geno Smith was the only good quarterback from that class, and he didn't become a star until much later in his career.

The 2024 class could have as many as five quarterbacks taken in Round 1, with USC's Caleb Williams, UNC's Drake Maye, and LSU's Jayden Daniels seen as the clear upper-tier of prospects at the position. Williams and Daniels are Heisman Trophy winners, while Maye starred in the ACC over the last two seasons.

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Our Patriots insider Phil Perry is at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis this week, where he is talking to people from around the league about the 2024 quarterback class, among other topics.

"A former NFL general manager told me, listen, all three of these guys at the top -- Williams, Maye, Daniels -- all have different strengths and weaknesses," Perry said on the latest episode of the Next Pats Podcast.

"They all have their weaknesses, and if you get scared off by them, he would get it. That's how he described it to me. But this former GM says they also all have a chance to be stars, and you don't often have that opportunity with the No. 3 overall pick. And so, at least for him, he's expecting the Patriots to take a quarterback at No. 3 overall."

The Patriots haven't had a top-three pick since they selected quarterback Drew Bledsoe at No. 1 overall in 1993.

And if you look at the best quarterbacks in the league, most of them were drafted in the first round. There are some exceptions, of course, and San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy is among the best examples. But seven of the eight starting QBs in the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs were first-round picks.

The Patriots have other glaring roster needs besides quarterback that need to be addressed before next season. But they can sign a wide receiver in free agency. They can draft an offensive tackle in the second round. It's a very deep draft for offensive tackles. They have around $80 million in salary cap space for free agency, per OverTheCap, giving them an opportunity to fix some roster weaknesses with dependable veterans.

Getting a good quarterback on the free agent market won't be easy and won't be cheap. After Kirk Cousins and Baker Mayfield, the quality of quarterbacks in free agency drops off significantly. And while a few intriguing quarterbacks might be available early in Round 2, there's no question that Williams, Maye and Daniels are all a tier above the others.

So, as the GM noted above, all three of the top QB prospects have weaknesses. But the opportunity to take a franchise quarterback and pay him on a rookie contract for five years is something the Patriots shouldn't pass up on. It's rare to get that kind of chance so high up in the draft.

Also in this episode:

  • What's going on at the combine?
  • Jerod Mayo meets with the media
  • Consensus views of the top three QBs
  • Could the Patriots get Justin Fields for a high third-round pick?
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