2024 NFL Draft: Patriots should be monitoring top 12 offensive players with first pick

For months, the Patriots have been expected to stick at No. 3 overall and take a quarterback in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft.

That’s still the most likely scenario.

But let’s not entirely rule out a curveball as the draft approaches.

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The Patriots desperately need a quarterback and are in a ripe position to select whichever player drops to No. 3 overall between LSU’s Jayden Daniels and UNC’s Drake Maye. But if the Patriots don’t have a strong preference between that quarterback and Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy, then a trade back from third overall could make sense.

Zooming out further, head coach Jerod Mayo and de facto general manager Eliot Wolf have both spoken about the quarterback class as a whole being impressive. Mayo narrowed his focus on five players, while Wolf said there was a top six in this class.

If the Patriots are seriously considering either Oregon’s Bo Nix or Washington’s Michael Penix, then they could potentially draft another offensive player first and then wait until later in the first round or early in the second round to take a QB.

If the Patriots want McCarthy, then they shouldn’t trade down any lower than sixth overall to the Giants, who are also QB-needy. If they don’t care about taking one of the top four QBs, then perhaps trading down with the Vikings, who own the 11th overall pick, is in play. There’s a clear top 12 when it comes to offensive players in this year’s class.

Let’s take a closer look at them in case the Patriots do plan to trade down.

USC QB Caleb Williams

Expected to be selected first overall to the Bears, Williams is a unique playmaker with his arm and his legs.

LSU QB Jayden Daniels

Anticipated to be drafted second to the Commanders, Daniels has a unique combination of mobility and downfield accuracy. He’s older than the other top prospects but also had the most impressive 2023 season.

UNC QB Drake Maye

The quarterback in this class with the highest ceiling and lowest floor, Maye takes some risks, but his arm talent allows him to fit the ball into tight windows. He’s not as athletic as Daniels, but he can make plays with his legs.

Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy

Michigan counted on its running game more than McCarthy on its way to a national championship. But McCarthy is only 21 years old, can run, throw off-platform and isn’t afraid to attack the middle of the field.

Ohio State WR Marvin Harrison Jr.

The son of the Colts great, Harrison Jr. is an elite wide receiver prospect. He was a two-time unanimous All-American and took home the Biletnikoff Award, given to the top FBS wide receiver. Harrison has All-Pro potential.

Washington WR Rome Odunze

Odunze is big, fast and agile. He was a master of pulling down contested catches thrown by Penix last season. He’s a big-play threat and red-zone weapon. A prototypical “X” receiver.

LSU WR Malik Nabers

Nabers has good size at 6 feet, 199 pounds and plays like a receiver three inches shorter and 20 pounds lighter. A constant threat for an 80-yard gain, he can catch a short pass and take it to the house with his after-the-catch ability or track a deep ball perfectly.

Georgia TE Brock Bowers

The top tight end prospect in recent memory, Bowers is undersized at 6-foot-3, 243 pounds but has special receiving skills.

Notre Dame OT Joe Alt

The son of John Alt, an Pro Bowl offensive tackle with the Chiefs, Joe Alt was a first-team All-American in back-to-back seasons and let up just one sack in that span. He has ideal size and athleticism at 6-foot-9, 321 pounds with a 5.05-second 40-yard dash.

Washington OT Troy Fautanu

Fautanu, who’s 6-foot-4, 317 pounds, is projected by some to move inside to guard in the NFL. His arm length (34.5 inches) should allow him to stay at tackle, however. A tremendous athlete for his size, Fautanu allowed just three sacks in his college career.

Penn State OT Olu Fashanu

Another member of an otherworldly offensive tackle class, Fashanu did not allow a sack during his college career, per PFF. He was a consensus All-American, team captain and team MVP in 2023.

Oregon State OT Taliese Fuaga

The heaviest of this group at 6-foot-5, 324 pounds, Fuaga also didn’t allow a sack during his college career. Fuaga played right tackle at Oregon State. The Patriots have a bit of a logjam there with Mike Onwenu set to start.

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