Next Pats Podcast

Why Patriots should adopt ‘Joe Burrow model' to accelerate rebuild

'The quarterback is that important.'

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If the New England Patriots and their fans are wondering how they can return to relevance without a lengthy rebuild, perhaps the Cincinnati Bengals can provide some inspiration.

The Bengals were coming off a 2-14 season when they landed quarterback Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. By 2021, Burrow had Cincinnati in the Super Bowl, and the team hasn't had a losing record since going 4-11-1 in Burrow's injury-shortened rookie year.

The Bengals' rapid turnaround isn't exactly commonplace, but it could be instructive for the Patriots, who are coming off a 4-13 campaign but are guaranteed the chance to take one of three potential franchise quarterbacks -- USC's Caleb Williams, UNC's Drake Maye and LSU's Jayden Daniels -- with the No. 3 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

If you ask former Bengals safety and current SiriusXM NFL analyst Solomon Wilcots, Burrow's success in Cincinnati should be all the motivation New England needs to draft a QB at No. 3 instead of trading down.

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"The quarterback is that important," Wilcots told our Phil Perry on a new Next Pats Podcast. "When Mac Jones came in that rookie year (in 2021), he played well. He didn't play great, but he played well, and they got back into the playoffs. But since the production at that position has declined, what you have at all these other positions doesn't matter. You're not going anywhere.

"When you have the opportunity to draft that high, and the quarterback is there -- now, he's got to be the guy. He's got to be what I call Seabiscuit. He's got to be that stud, that talent, and you know it when you see it."

As Wilcots explained, Burrow had that "it" factor, to the point where the Bengals turned down multiple trade offers for the No. 1 pick. Wilcots believes the Patriots will be in a similar position, and if they feel similarly about whichever QB is on the board at No. 3, they should draft him in a heartbeat, regardless of the trade-down offers they receive.

"When we saw Joe Burrow, there was no question what they were going to do with that pick," Wilcots said. "(The Bengals') phone was ringing off the hook with teams wanting to trade up to get that pick, because they wanted that player. I suspect that the Patriots are going to get a lot of calls.

"Who they like at the quarterback position among this draft class, I think it's going to be critical, and if they can get him with that third overall pick, they should take him. If he's gone when they go on the clock, then they should either trade down and get more picks or maybe take a really great left tackle if they're there on the board when they go on the clock."

The Patriots reportedly have been impressed by both Maye and Daniels -- their two most likely options with Williams expected to go No. 1 overall -- and seemingly hinted at drafting a QB at No. 3 by signing veteran backup Jacoby Brissett in free agency. And while they've failed to upgrade their wide receiver position in free agency, perhaps they're eyeing the Cincinnati model there as well: The Bengals took Tee Higgins and Ja'Marr Chase in back-to-back drafts in 2020 and 2021.

Also in this episode:

  • How does not landing Calvin Ridley impact the Patriots’ first-round pick? 
  • Solomon Wilcots on the Patriots’ transition from Belichick to Mayo 
  • Phil Perry's latest mock draft
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