Patriots reportedly targeting QB of the future over Drake Maye in NFL Draft

The New England Patriots could shake up the NFL Draft with a bold (ill-advised?) move.

New England Patriots
New England Patriots / Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots occupy a potential inflection point in the 2024 NFL Draft. We all expect the Chicago Bears to select Caleb Williams with the No. 1 overall pick. There is less certainty with the Washington Commanders at No. 2, but we can all connect the dots between new OC Kliff Kingsbury and LSU's Jayden Daniels. The Commanders are bound to select the mobile, dual-threat QB, no?

New England, for the longest time, was expected to take the remaining option between Daniels or North Carolina's Drake Maye. Those are the consensus top-3 QBs on most draft boards. Maye has been on NFL radars for a while, blessed with prototypical quarterback size and a canon arm.

But, according to the latest report from Sportskeeda's Tony Pauline, New England could have its eyes on a shocker in the No. 3 spot.

"I'm not big on McCarthy being a top-10 selection, but the UM signal caller to New England was the buzz on the pro-day circuit. De facto general manager Eliot Wolf is pushing hard for McCarthy, and he believes he has as much upside as any quarterback in this draft."

We have all heard the mounting buzz around Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy, but now he is officially in the mix for New England. If the above report is true, and Patriots scouting director Eliot Wolf is captain of the McCarthy train, then we could be in for a doozy come April.

Patriots GM 'pushing hard' for J.J. McCarthy over Drake Maye in NFL Draft

Now, there's still a lot of time for the landscape to shift between now and the NFL Draft on April 25. The Patriots' decision is certainly not finalized. It's also worth noting that McCarthy has been connected to the Commanders at No. 2, so there is still room for an even greater shock that could throw a wrench into New England's burgeoning plans.

The McCarthy buzz is at least understandable. He just won the National Championship under Jim Harbaugh and NFL scouts love "proven" winners. McCarthy's arm talent is readily apparent to those who watched Michigan play, but he also received a much lighter workload than essentially all of his peers. Michigan was a run-first offense and McCarthy threw 93 fewer passes than Drake Maye last season. Maye has 239 more collegiate pass attempts under his belt overall.

Of course, Maye was playing at North Carolina, a good-not-great ACC school with a far smaller share of the national spotlight than Michigan. Situation matters, and McCarthy was placed in more high-stress environments than Maye. When he was called upon to toss the football, McCarthy generally executed at a high level. He completed 72.3 percent of his passes last season, registering 2,991 yards, 22 touchdowns, and only four interceptions.

With McCarthy, it's boils down the projection. That is what the NFL Draft is all about, after all. He doesn't have the same college tape as Maye (or Daniels, who went bonkers for LSU last season), but McCarthy has excellent physical tools, an all-important championship under his belt, and the undeniable, often undefinable allure of upside. McCarthy has also been labeled as a "culture-setter," the kind of person who can lead a locker room and galvanize a fanbase. Maybe he is.

We will see. In the end, the Patriots are going to present a real challenge to whichever QB ends up under center. A shoddy WR room, a below-average offensive line, and a completely inexperienced coaching staff could cause, well, issues. Thrusting the least accomplished top QB into that situation is a risk, but hey — no risk, no reward.

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