Patriots 2024 NFL mock draft: Three biggest needs filled early

The 2024 NFL Draft has finally arrived.

Here’s the latest look at how we see the Patriots’ 2024 class shaking out in our last mock draft of the spring.

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Round 1, Pick No. 3: UNC QB Drake Maye

The Patriots continue to entertain the possibility of a trade down from No. 3 overall. The only way that makes sense is if they only trade down a few spots (like to the Giants’ No. 6 overall pick), or trade down to the Vikings’ 11th overall pick and then move back up in a deal with the Cardinals (No. 4) or Chargers (No. 5).

Because at the end of the day, the Patriots still need a quarterback. If Caleb Williams goes first overall to the Bears and the Commanders take Jayden Daniels second, then the two most likely quarterback options are staying put for Maye or trading down for Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy.

In this, our final mock, we stick with Maye, who has a higher upside than McCarthy based on his arm strength, anticipation and playmaking ability.

McCarthy wouldn’t be a bad consolation if the Patriots do trade down. He’s athletic, adept at maneuvering the pocket, delivers off-platform throws with ease and isn’t afraid to target receivers over the middle.

Maye had better numbers when he was surrounded by a superior supporting cast in 2022. But he certainly wasn’t bad as a junior in 2023 before declaring for the draft.

Round 2, Pick No. 34: Washington WR Ja’Lynn Polk

The Patriots badly need an “X” wide receiver to fit into a depth chart that already includes DeMario Douglas, Kendrick Bourne and K.J. Osborn, all of whom are better suited for the slot or “Z” roles.

Polk primarily played slot and “Z” in an offense that featured Rome Odunze, who is expected to be a Top 10 pick. But there’s thought that Polk can play “X” receiver at the next level because of his ability to threaten all three levels by manipulating his tempo.

Polk, who has good size at 6-foot-1, 203 pounds, isn’t a burner. He ran a 4.52-second 40-yard dash, but he caught 69 passes for 1,159 yards with nine touchdowns in 2023 and otherwise tested well with a 37.5-inch vertical leap and 10-feet, 9-inch broad jump.

Odunze, Polk and Jalen McMillan all made life easier for quarterback Michael Penix. Polk won 54.2% of his contested targets in 2023, which ranked 31st of 121 qualified players.

Patriots wide receivers coach Tyler Hughes was a quality control coach at Washington in 2023.

Don’t be surprised if the Patriots take a best player available here rather than fill a position of need if a prospect they feel is worthy of a first-round pick falls into the top of the second round.

Round 3, Pick No. 68: Washington OT Roger Rosengarten

Rosengarten was a left tackle in high school and primed to play on the blind-side with the Huskies until that role flipped when lefty QB Michael Penix transferred to Washington in 2022. So, while Rosengarten started at right tackle for his two starting seasons, that wasn’t the plan.

Rosengarten has good size at over 6-foot-5, 308 pounds with 34-inch arms. He ran a 4.92-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine.

The 21-year-old didn’t allow a sack in his college career, per PFF. As far as developmental left tackles go, Rosengarten, a four-star recruit, could be a steal.

Round 4, Pick No. 102: Kentucky LB Trevin Wallace

The Patriots have had success drafting SEC linebackers in the past. There are two on the coaching staff in head coach Jerod Mayo and inside linebackers coach Dont’a Hightower.

Wallace is 6-foot-1, 237 pounds and ran a 4.51-second 40-yard dash at the combine. He was a team captain in 2023 as a third-year junior and proved adept as a blitzing option with 20 pressures on just 71 pass-rush snaps.

Round 5, Pick 137: Pittsburgh OT Matt Goncalves

Let’s take two swings at the tackle position. Patriots assistant wide receivers coach Tiquan Underwood coached at Pitt last season, so he’ll know Goncalves well.

A team captain in 2023, Goncalves missed nine games last season with a foot injury.

Round 6, Pick 184: Michigan TE A.J. Barner

The Patriots added tight end depth by signing Mitchell Wilcox this season, but Barner could compete for the third spot on the roster behind Hunter Henry and Austin Hooper.

He’s a solid blocker and was a team captain at Indiana in 2022 before transferring to Michigan.

Round 6, Pick 193: Miami G Javion Cohen

Patriots senior personnel executive Alonzo Highsmith will know Cohen well from his time as the University of Miami’s general manager. Cohen, who’s 6-foot-4, 323 pounds, is built similarly to Mike Onwenu and Atonio Mafi. He transferred from Alabama after the 2022 season.

Round 7, Pick 234: Colorado State CB Chigozie Anusiem

A transfer from Cal, Anusiem is the ideal height-weight-speed flier to take in the seventh round. He’s 6-foot-1, 200 pounds and ran a 4.39-second 40-yard dash.

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