New England Patriots

Should Patriots consider this hypothetical trade package for No. 1 pick?

Is Caleb Williams worth the high price to trade up to the No. 1 pick?

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The New England Patriots haven't owned the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft since 1993 when they took Washington State quarterback Drew Bledsoe. In many ways, that selection was a turning point for the struggling franchise.

Could they explore a move up to the No. 1 pick in 2024?

USC quarterback Caleb Williams is the consensus No. 1 ranked prospect in the 2024 NFL Draft. The 2022 Heisman Trophy winner has all the physical tools scouts love. He's also able to improvise and throw from outside the pocket, even drawing comparisons to Patrick Mahomes in that regard.

The Patriots badly need a quarterback. Neither Mac Jones nor Bailey Zappe represent a good short- or long-term solution at the position. The Patriots will be able to get one of the three top-tier QB prospects -- Williams, UNC's Drake Maye and LSU's Jayden Daniels -- with the No. 3 pick.

But what if they value Williams so much that a trade with the Chicago Bears for the No. 1 pick makes sense? What would be the cost to make that kind of move up in the draft order?

ESPN's Field Yates talked with people around the league and came up with three hypothetical trade packages for the top pick, one involving the Washington Commanders, Atlanta Falcons and Patriots.

Here is the package he created for the Patriots:

  • Patriots receive: No. 1 pick
  • Bears receive: No. 3 pick, 2024 second-round pick (No. 34 overall), 2025 first-round pick

That's an extraordinary price to pay to move up only two spots. Giving up the No. 34 overall pick would hurt the Patriots' ability to surround Williams with enough talent on offense, particularly at offensive tackle and wide receiver. This draft is considered pretty deep at offensive tackle, with possibly eight or 10 players expected to go in the first two rounds. New England would miss out on those tackles if they dealt their second-rounder.

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The loss of a 2025 first-round pick would hurt quite a bit, too, especially if the Patriots are not a playoff team next season. Even if Williams is the real deal as a rookie, it's unlikely the Patriots sneak into the playoffs in a highly competitive AFC.

What if Williams doesn't play well as a rookie and the team struggles? The Carolina Panthers gave up a ton, including their 2024 first-round pick, to move up to No. 1 in a deal with the Bears before the 2023 draft. The Panthers selected Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, who struggled in Year 1 as Carolina fell to the bottom of the standings. The Bears wound up with the No. 1 pick as a result. The Panthers now are unable to use that pick to give Young's offense the infusion of high-end talent it desperately needs.

The Patriots cannot afford to fall into that same situation as the Panthers. Yes, Williams is an exciting talent and could be a great quarterback for a long time. But is he so much better than Maye and Daniels that it makes sense to sacrifice a high second-round pick and a future first-rounder to draft him? No, that's not the case.

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