Head coach Jerod Mayo's introductory press conference on Wednesday felt like a breath of fresh air to New England Patriots fans. After 24 years of grunts and valueless answers from Dr. Doom himself, Bill Belichick, Mayo's engagement, thoughtful answers and candidness were an incredible about-face.
During his reign, Belichick also operated as if protecting the most precious of state secrets. Well, this is apparently already changing in Foxborough, as Mayo took a different approach and all but revealed the team's plans for the third overall pick in this April's NFL Draft.
The laugh and "you put the pieces together" seemingly guarantees that Mayo is referencing the quarterback position. Luckily for Patriots fans, "a position that is very important" likely doesn't mean drafting a long snapper or a kicker in the fourth round anymore.
USC's Caleb Williams is the consensus best quarterback in the draft, while UNC signal-caller Drake Maye is ranked second-best. Pro Football Focus' full QB rankings are below.
What the Chicago Bears decide to do with the first overall pick will have a significant ripple effect for the Patriots (and the rest of the draft). Chicago holds the first pick following a pre-draft trade last offseason with the Carolina Panthers.
If the Bears decide to hang onto quarterback Justin Fields and opt to take wideout Marvin Harrison Jr. with the top pick, then Williams and Maye could fall to two and three respectively. However, if Chicago opts to take Williams at one or trades away the pick for a king's ransom and that team selects a quarterback, then New England would likely be looking at reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jayden Daniels at three.
Daniels would be a "tweener" pick at three, as the LSU product is ranked as the third-best quarterback, but only the 11th best prospect, per both ESPN and PFF. Daniels would be somewhat of a reach here, but the Patriots are desperate for a quarterback and will likely take the best QB still available when they're on the clock.
If Harrison Jr. is still available at three, he would be a tempting selection as he is ranked as the best overall prospect by many outlets and was an absolute game changer at Ohio State this season. Should New England take Harrison, they could potentially angle for Michael Penix Jr. or Bo Nix at the back half of the first round or beginning of the second. For now though, Mayo's comments don't suggest that is the team's game plan.
The first round of the 2024 NFL Draft will be held on Thursday, April 24 in Detroit, Michigan.
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