Pats seven-round mock draft: Drake Maye lets UNC teammate arm the offense

By | March 16, 2024

Pats seven-round mock draft: Drake Maye gets UNC teammate to weaponize offense originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Remember, it takes two to tango in free agency. If the Patriots can’t convince the top players at top positions to sign with them this offseason… what then?

At that point, it would be all about the NFL Draft. That’s ‘the Packer way’. Drawing and developing. Play your young players. Jerod Mayo and Eliot Wolf could be forced into those types of builds if they can’t afford their way to watchability in 2024.

Here’s a seven-round scenario in which the Patriots fill their emergency positions with young, cost-controlled athletes. Is it ideal? That’s not it. But this is a less-than-ideal situation facing today’s New England buyers, and they may have to make the best of it in late April while real questions still remain on their roster.

Let’s get to the choices…

Round 1 (No. 3 Overall): Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina

In this scenario, the Patriots don’t mind that their roster isn’t built to support a young quarterback in his first season. They see the franchise’s potential in Drake Maye and will turn in a card with his name once the Commanders select Jayden Daniels at No. 2 overall.

Maye is only 21 years old, he is physically prototypical, he is seen as having a high football IQ, and he impressed New England with the way he interviewed during their first meeting. The opportunities to draft big-time quarterbacks are too few and far between for the Patriots to pass on here, so the only thing left to determine is whether they actually want to start him in his rookie season.

Round 2 (No. 34 overall): Jordan Morgan, OT, Arizona

Arizona offensive lineman Jordan Morgan played in 12 games last season after returning from a torn ACL in late 2022.

Arizona offensive lineman Jordan Morgan played in 12 games last season after returning from a torn ACL in late 2022.

The Patriots still need a tackle as of this writing. Luckily for them, that need is glaring in a year when the draft is chock full of high-end talent at the position. Ten were allowed in the first round. And Morgan might be one of them. But in this scenario, he remains available at No. 34 and the Patriots view him as an athlete with a big body and upside.

He’s not a hulking rim protector (6-foot-4, 311 pounds), and he tore his ACL late in 2022 and still seemed limited in his return in 2023. But the fact that he was able to come back the way he did It did, showing some real resilience in the process, and that was impressive. And if he can better showcase his athletic gifts as a pro with another year removed from the injury, the Patriots could get their left tackle in the near future. Which at this point in the design would be a steal.

Round 3 (No. 68 overall): Devontez Walker, WR, North Carolina

Speed, speed and more speed. The Patriots need difference makers at the receiver position. And while they would have a better chance of becoming a true No. 1 by using No. 34 overall on a wideout, the drop-off at tackle is even starker. So this is the path they choose: quarterback, tackle, receiver.

Walker and Maye only had one season together with the Tar Heels, but perhaps there’s some chemistry built that will carry over into the league, just as it has for some other first-round passers paired with teammates from the university. recent years.

Walker is inconsistent as a route runner, and his hands failed him at the Senior Bowl. But he’s a gifted athlete (4.36 seconds, 40, 11 feet 2 broad jump, 40.5 inches vertical) with enough size (6-foot-1, 193 pounds) to play on the outside. When he hits, he’s exactly the kind of boundary threat the Patriots could use.

Round 4 (No. 103 overall): Malik Washington, WR, Virginia

How bad are the Patriots’ receiver prospects? Bad enough that two of their first four picks could conceivably — barring an addition of free agents — be used to stock the position.

Washington might be considered a bit redundant for a team that already has DeMario “Pop” Douglas, but he has a stockier build than the second-year receiver from Liberty. Washington checks in at 6-foot-1 and 191 pounds, but packs a significant amount of explosiveness into that smaller frame (42.5 inches vertical, 98th percentile).

This hard-to-tackle catch-and-run option is coming off a ridiculously productive year at UVA — 1,426 yards and nine touchdowns on 110 catches in 12 games — and would be a security blanket for a young quarterback.

Round 5 (No. 137 overall): Ben Sinnott, TE, Kansas State

The Patriots already have Hunter Henry and Austin Hooper as their Nos. 1 and 2 at the position, but Sinnott is the kind of athlete worthy of a selection at this point in the draft.

At 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds, he’s big enough to do some of the dirty work that comes with the position, if he can show the willingness to take on that kind of role as a professional to take. But his movement skills make him attractive.

He has the speed (6.82 seconds three-cone) to run real routes and the explosiveness (40 inches vertical) to compete with other NFL-caliber athletes in the short-to-mid range.

Round 6 (No. 180 overall): Kamal Hadden, CB, Tennessee

Kamal Hadden had three interceptions in seven games in 2023 before a shoulder injury ended his season.Kamal Hadden had three interceptions in seven games in 2023 before a shoulder injury ended his season.

Kamal Hadden had three interceptions in seven games in 2023 before a shoulder injury ended his season.

The Patriots will need another borderline corner at some point. If they don’t get one in free agency, and if they don’t want to invest in one early in the draft, Hadden has the kind of traits that would be intriguing. Especially when all he costs is a sixth-round flier.

The former Vol stands 6-foot-4 and 196 pounds and has the athletic talent to compete in what should be a tough man-to-man program in New England under new head coach Jerod Mayo. His 2023 was ended by a shoulder injury that could see him slide to this point.

Round 6 (No. 193 overall): Tanor Bortolini, OL, Wisconsin

The Packer Way is all about adding athletic and versatile offensive linemen, so using the roster acquired in the Mac Jones trade could mean all kinds of things for Packer-Way-raised personnel chief Eliot Wolf.

Bortolini is a 6-foot-1, 303-pounder with great movement skills. His broad jump ranked in the 93rd percentile, and his 4.94 second 40 was good enough to put him in the 96th percentile. He looks exactly like the kind of player who can play center or defense at the next level.

Round 7 (No. 231 overall): Brandon Coleman, OL, TCU

Would the Patriots really spend all but one pick in the draft on the offensive side of the ball? Wouldn’t be a bad idea considering where the roster is from a talent perspective. Moreover, right now you want to win gold by rolling the dice. Coleman would certainly be worthy of such a Day 3 role.

He’s not a huge option on the edge at 6-foot-4 and 313 pounds, but he has great length (35-inch arms, 11-inch hands). Coleman, a three-year starter and team captain, could potentially have some flexibility at guard and tackle. He may play a bit high, but his athleticism could allow him to make up for any deficiencies in his technique (90th percentile 40 yard dash, 95th percentile vertical, 93rd percentile broad jump).

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