ESPN suggests bold draft strategy for Patriots that may lead to losing in 2024

ESPN writer Aaron Schatz has a good idea but goes about it the wrong way in his newest article.

ESPN suggests bold draft strategy for Patriots that may lead to losing in 2024
ESPN suggests bold draft strategy for Patriots that may lead to losing in 2024 / Chris Unger/GettyImages

The New England Patriots have a lot of work to do in the offseason to start rebuilding this team. The defense looks good on paper, but they have a few players in the final year of their contract and a couple more who will be free agents next month. The offense is in complete shambles, requiring upgrades at every single position.

Aaron Schatz of ESPN ($) recently suggested bold moves that each team could make in the offseason. For the Patriots, that move would be passing on a quarterback in the 2024 draft, and taking Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. with the third overall pick. He suggests that the Patriots sign a stop-gap veteran such as Jacoby Brissett, and have them tutor a lower-round pick at quarterback such as Michael Penix Jr. or Spencer Rattler.

At the beginning of Schatz's musings, he does mention that some of his suggestions are unrealistic. With that said, I agree with the spirit of the plan, but not the execution of it. He has a great bold idea, but a not-so-great plan. In the words of John Candy in Oliver Stone's masterpiece JFK, "You got the right ta-ta but the wrong ho-ho."

Why Patriots drafting Marvin Harrison Jr. over a QB is unrealistic

Schatz's suggestion is still to go quarterback and wide receiver with the team's first two picks, just not in that order. This is a mistake because the gap between a first and second-round quarterback is much greater than the gap between a first and second-round wide receiver in the 2024 NFL Draft. Wide receiver is one of the top three deepest positions in the draft, and his teams will find great success in Rounds 3 and 4.

If the plan is to grab an elite receiver in the draft, you can still trade back and accumulate more assets for the future, because there is not a gap between Marvin Harrison Jr. and Malik Nabers. Washington receiver Rome Odunze is slightly behind them. The team could trade back and still get an elite receiver in the draft, and more picks this year and/or next year. They don't need to take Harrison at No. 3.

Why Patriots not drafting a QB at No. 3 is still realistic

As I mentioned earlier, the Patriots have quite a few holes to fill, specifically an offense. Most importantly on the offensive line. Last season, the quarterbacks they rolled out on the field had no time to throw the ball, which led to sacks, but even worse, turnovers. Without the ability to establish the running game or protect the quarterback, it doesn't matter how many elite receivers the Patriots have.

Schatz was right about not drafting a quarterback with the third overall pick. What he was wrong about was who they should take. The Patriots need to address their offensive line first and foremost. They can do this by drafting offensive line help with their first three picks in the 2024 draft. With the third overall pick, they should take Notre Dame tackle Joe Alt.

Alt is a truly generational player, who barring injury is Hall of Fame bound. Think of him as Jonathan Ogden or Orlando Pace. Once they address the left tackle position, they can go right tackle at the beginning of the second round with a player like Tyler Guyton or Kingsley Saumataia. 

With their third-round pick, they can address the interior offensive line with a player like Graham Barton, Christian Haynes, or Christian Mahogany. Assuming they use some of the money that Jerod Mayo wants to burn and re-sign Michael Onwenu, the team would roll out a significantly improved offensive line in 2024. An offensive line that would also be under contract for the next five seasons.

Wide receiver can be addressed in free agency, and they can find production in round four at that position as well. The quarterback will have to wait until 2025. There is not a single player they can draft that will make them a playoff contender next season. This is a two-year rebuild, as long as they do it right. That means making bold moves, but not the one suggested by ESPN.

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