New England Patriots

Patriots land franchise QB in Mel Kiper Jr's new 2024 NFL Mock Draft

"Maye makes too much sense."

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It's no secret the New England Patriots need a quarterback. The team's lackluster performance at the position last season was the primary reason why it landed at the bottom of the AFC standings with a 4-13 record.

The positive about the disastrous 2023 season was it gave the Patriots the No. 3 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft -- their highest selection since 1994.

Luckily for the Patriots, there are three Tier 1 quarterbacks in the 2024 draft class -- USC's Caleb Williams, UNC's Drake Maye and LSU's Jayden Daniels -- so at least one of them will be available when the AFC East franchise is on the clock at No. 3.

ESPN expert Mel Kiper Jr. released his second 2024 NFL mock draft Wednesday, and he projects the Patriots taking Maye. He also predicts the Chicago Bears selecting Williams at No. 1 and the Washington Commanders taking Daniels at No. 2.

"As I wrote in my Mock Draft 1.0, quarterback is the Patriots' biggest hole this offseason. The organization can't move forward and get back to competing for AFC East titles until it gets the position right," Kiper wrote in his analysis. "Mac Jones had a solid rookie season in 2021 but regressed badly the past two seasons; he could be traded or released over the next few months.

"So unless New England takes a surprise run at one of the veterans on the market -- Kirk Cousins? Russell Wilson, who is likely to be released? -- Maye makes too much sense. Sure, he's the third passer off the board in this class, but he might be the No. 1 pick in many other drafts. He's No. 5 on my Big Board, has special touch on downfield passes and can deliver every throw with precision."

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Maye completed 63.3 percent of his passes for 3,608 yards with 24 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 12 games for the Tar Heels last season. He is 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds with a rocket arm and pretty good mobility inside and outside of the pocket.

A case could be made for the Patriots selecting a wide receiver at No. 3 -- like Ohio State's Marvin Harrison Jr. -- but if you look at the best quarterbacks in the league right now, many of them were drafted in the first round. For example, seven of the eight teams that reached the Divisional Round of the 2023 playoffs had a starting quarterback who was drafted in Round 1.

The Patriots haven't drafted this high since 1993, so it would make sense to take advantage of this rare opportunity and select a quarterback with the No. 3 pick.

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