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New England Patriots 2024 NFL Draft Recap

The New England Patriots needed to revamp the offensive side of the ball this offseason, and that is precisely what they did. Seven of their eight picks were offensive players, and most of them will see a decent amount of playing time if I had to guess. GM Elliot Wolf gave the fans what they wanted, and it appears to be a successful draft. Time will tell once the season starts, but you can't blame the fans for being optimistic with this new core coming in. Let's dive deeper into the latest draft picks now.

Round 1, Pick 3 - Drake Maye, QB, UNC

It was no secret that the Patriots needed a quarterback for this draft, and it would come down to Daniels or Maye. All the talk about them trading back or drafting anybody else was just smokescreens, as Coach Mayo said they had their eyes on Maye the whole time. The Vikings even offered their two first rounds this year (Pick 11 + 23) and their 2025 first-round pick and the Patriots said it was "laughable."

Drake Maye played for three years at UNC. He was the backup in 2021 but took over in 2022 and put up some crazy numbers. He threw for 4,321 yards, 38 touchdowns, and only seven interceptions. After that season, Caleb Williams and Maye were considered 1A and 1B for the first pick in 2024. During his 2023 season, though, he had a bit of a decline; he was still good, just not the consensus number-one pick type of good that scouts and experts were projecting. He had a drop-off in all categories. Maye threw for 3,608 yards, 24 touchdowns, and nine interceptions. His completion percentage dropped from 66.2% in 2022 to 63.3% in 2023.

With all that being said, he was still viewed as a Top-3 quarterback coming into the draft, and the Patriots were in love with him. He had many crazy throws, clutch plays, and moving the chains with his legs. He is a dual threat that can surprise some people off the bat. The Patriots got some new weapons (Osborn, Polk, Baker), and it should be exciting to see what the rookie gunslinger can do. Rumors are Brissett might start the season, but I think if Maye balls out in training camp, he should get the nod in Week 1. New England needs a new spark and some life to this offense, and I think Maye could provide that over Brissett.

Round 2, Pick 5 (37) - Ja'Lynn Polk, WR, Washington

Considering the receivers left, this was a bit of a surprising pick, but there is plenty to like about Polk. Ja'Lynn is a 6'2, 190 lb WR who ran a 4.52 40-yard dash. It's not the fastest time, but there's a difference between 40 speed and game speed. He seems to play faster than that on the field and is a do-it-all type of receiver. He is an elite route runner with great hands, allowing him to make contested catches quickly.

He started his career at Texas Tech in 2020, posting a stat line of 28 receptions for 263 yards and two touchdowns. Then he transferred to Washington, where he got injured on the season's first play after picking up a catch. His season was pretty much over after that play. In 2022, he returned from injury and recorded 41 receptions for 694 yards and six touchdowns. Then, in 2023, he made a name for himself. Playing in an offense where the ball was spread to many different playmakers, Polk still finished with 69 catches for 1,159 yards and nine touchdowns as the second option behind Rome Odunze. If he had the keys to the team, who knows what he could've done.

Polk should get a real shot at serious playing time, considering how high they drafted him and how bad the receiver room was in New England last year. He can immediately be the 3 or 4 receiver behind Douglas, Bourne, and Osborne. This was a great pick, and we could see a rookie-to-rookie connection grow here.

Round 3, Pick 4 (68) - Caeden Wallace, OT, Penn State

With New England's third pick, they selected the right tackle from Penn State, Caeden Wallace. Wallace didn't get much coverage or love this season as he was overshadowed by his teammate and 11th overall pick, Olu Fashanu. But his tape is pretty impressive for a pick this late. The 6'5" 315 lb. tackle runs a 5.15 40-yard dash and has an 83 1/8" wingspan. From what I have seen, he recognizes blitzes and stunts well and stays connected with his blocks for the most part.

He only allowed one sack this year and is a tremendous pass-blocker. He could get a little better in the run game, but he has a chance to compete for a starting tackle spot. Right now, Mike Onwenu is the starting right tackle, and it doesn't seem like he will go anywhere anytime soon. So, if he stays at RT, Wallace will have to attempt to make the transfer to left tackle, where he has a better chance to start, and based on comments by Eliot Wolf, they think he can make that switch. They added Chukwuma Okorafor before the draft and still have Vederian Lowe. If Wallace impresses, I can see him starting as early as this year.

Round 4, Pick 3 (103) - Layden Robinson, G, Mississippi State

Out of all the picks made in this draft, this one was probably the only one I wasn't too big of a fan of. The guard from Mississippi State is a good run blocker but does not excel as much in pass blocking. I understand New England needed a guard, but I'm unsure if this was the right pick. Hopefully, I am wrong.

Robinson didn't have a good 2022 season. He allowed 20 quarterback hurries, 11 hits, and four sacks allowed. That is what turned me off from the pick. But he did improve on those numbers quite a bit in 2023. This past season, he allowed 10 quarterback hurries, five hits, and one sack. He definitely still needs to improve, but unless players get injured this year, I don't see him seeing the field much in 2024.

Round 4, Pick 10 (110) - Javon Baker, WR, UCF

The UCF wide receiver is my favorite pick from this draft. Baker was a projected second-rounder who fell all the way to pick 110. The best part about that is that he has made it clear that he has a chip on his shoulder heading into the season. Nothing is better than having a player who wants to prove to the world that teams messed up passing on him. He also has an energetic personality that this team needs. He is going viral for saying, "Just come to the home stadium and bring y'all popcorn. That's all I can tell y'all. Bring your popcorn. I make people in wheelchairs stand up."

Baker started his career in Alabama and played there from 2020 to 2021. He then transferred to UCF after not seeing the field much at Alabama and immediately made an impact. In his first year at UCF (2022), he hauled in 56 catches for 796 yards and five touchdowns. Then, as the primary target in 2023, he made big play after play. He had fewer catches (52) but had almost 400 more yards (1,139). He was second in the nation in Yards Per Reception with 21.9. Baker also finished the year with seven touchdowns.

Baker is in a similar spot as Polk and will fight for that 3/4 spot. But with so many weapons to try out this year, I think they'll rotate in and out depending on the formation.

Round 6, Pick 4 (180) - Marcellas Dial, CB, South Carolina

I expected the Patriots to take a cornerback earlier in the draft, but they took the corner out of South Carolina with pick 180. This pick can be hit or miss, which is what most sixth-round picks consist of. Dial is a very physical corner and doesn't allow much vertical separation. But since he is so physical at the line, if the opponent puts a nice move on him, he's getting beat. Needs to limit the big plays allowed. He only has three career interceptions in three years. Dial will be a work in progress and would most likely see the field on special teams rather than cornerback in year one.

Round 6, Pick 17 (193) - Joe Milton III, QB, Tennessee

The most interesting quarterback prospect in this year's class, in my opinion. Joe Milton has the strongest arm I've seen in a while, but the short accuracy isn't there. There's no doubt he needs lots of development with his mechanics, but getting him as a flyer in the sixth round is worth it, in my mind. He has the chance to be Cam Newton-esque.

Three years each at Michigan and then Tennessee. Quite the long college career for Milton, who is 6'5, 235 lbs. Coaches never knew what to do with him as he is as raw as they come. In his first full season (2023), he completed 64.7% of his passes for 2,813 yards, 20 touchdowns, and five interceptions. He showed true potential this year, and I think he will get the third QB spot on the roster over Zappe.

Round 7, Pick 11 (231) - Jaheim Bell

The FSU tight end is more of the receiving type than the blocking type. He is 6'3, 239 lbs. and is excellent with the ball in his hands after the catch. Hunter Henry and Austin Hooper are both bigger types of tight ends that can block, so having more of a receiver type is suitable for switching it up when needed. Bell transferred from South Carolina for the 2023 season and finished with 39 catches, 503 yards and two touchdowns. Not sure if Bell will make the roster, but someone to keep an eye on in camp.

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