The New England Patriots will make one of their most important decisions in recent franchise history this spring.
That may sound like overstatement, but the Patriots' No. 3 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft is their highest selection since 1993, when they took Drew Bledsoe first overall. How New England chooses to use that pick could determine the success of the team for years to come.
The options are plenty: The Patriots could take a stud quarterback in UNC's Drake Maye or LSU's Jayden Daniels, draft the consensus top wide receiver in Ohio State's Marvin Harrison Jr., shore up the trenches with an offensive tackle or trade down from No. 3 to acquire additional draft capital.
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Our Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran has advocated for New England to trade down and amass resources to address its multiple roster needs. But when former Atlanta Falcons general manager and Patriots personnel man Thomas Dimitroff joined the Patriots Talk Podcast on Monday, he pushed back on Curran's take.
🔊 Patriots Talk: The case for the Patriots trading down | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube
"Look, as much as I want to understand what you are saying ... I picked Matt Ryan," Dimitroff told Curran and co-host Phil Perry from Super Bowl Radio Row in Las Vegas, "My very first pick ever (in Atlanta) was the third overall pick and because I wanted him so much -- if we did not pick Matt Ryan, I would have been in this business two years, not 13. So I have a little bit of a different perspective."
The Falcons had plenty of needs entering the 2008 NFL Draft after going 4-12 the season prior. But Dimitroff stuck with his guns at No. 3 overall and took Boston College QB Matt Ryan. The move paid off: Atlanta went 11-5 and made the playoffs in Ryan's rookie year, and Ryan went on to earn four Pro Bowl nods and an NFL MVP award while guiding Atlanta to a Super Bowl appearance in 2016.
While Curran argues that dropping a rookie quarterback into an offense bereft of talent and lacking quality protection is a recipe for disaster, Dimitroff believes you need to take the high-profile QB when you can, and trust your front office to build around him in the coming years.
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"If you have a guy that you really like and you know that -- if you have a good scouting department, a good management group, you definitely get your scouts knowing what's out there two, three and four years away, that's a big thing. If you think there's going to be a bad run, like back in the day when Atlanta didn't take a quarterback three or four years ago, that was a bad two or three years of really trying to figure it out.
"So if you're here now with some really good quarterbacks, that's when you have to really sit down and decide 'Is it best to trade back or is it best to get your guy now?'"
The Falcons are an interesting model to consider. They found immediate success under Ryan, making the playoffs six times in his first eight seasons. But with the opportunity to take Ryan's successor at No. 4 in the 2021 draft, Atlanta instead went with tight end Kyle Pitts. Ryan was off the team a year later, and the Falcons have scuffled with a rotating group of QBs that includes Marcus Mariota, Desmond Ridder and Taylor Heinicke.
Ultimately, it comes down to how the Patriots evaluate Maye and Daniels, one of whom should be available at No. 3 if Caleb Williams goes first overall as expected. If Dimitroff were running the Patriots, it sounds like he'd repeat the 2008 draft by "sticking and picking."
Also in this episode:
- Would Dimitroff have any interest in returning to Foxboro?
- Why Dimitroff thinks there’s value to having a franchise "football overlord," and how it can be done correctly
- How do Jerod Mayo and the Patriots prevent there from being too extreme of a culture change going forward?
- Why didn’t things work out between Bill Belichick and the Falcons? Will Belichick be coaching in 2025?