Latest Patriots Draft Rumor is Clear Smokescreen

The latest NFL Draft rumors link the New England Patriots to Michigan QB JJ McCarthy. However, don't be surprised if those rumors are nothing more than a smokescreen.

Feb 27, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; New England Patriots director of scouting Eliot Wolf during the
Feb 27, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; New England Patriots director of scouting Eliot Wolf during the / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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This month's NFL Draft is one of the most important in New England Patriots history. After all, the Patriots head into the draft with the No. 3 overall selection, allowing them to draft a potentially franchise-altering player as they prepare for their first campaign without Bill Belichick in over two decades.

As with any time a team holds a top-three selection, fans are wondering who New England will draft on Day 1 later this month. While quarterback is the team's biggest need following Mac Jones' trade last month, there's always the possibility that the Pats could draft someone like Ohio State's Marvin Harrison Jr. or even trade the pick for more capital.

The latest NFL Draft rumors point to the Patriots targeting one specific QB at No. 3, however, there's a good chance that the situation is nothing more than a smokescreen.

Patriots Rumors: Will New England Draft JJ McCarthy at No. 3?

Sportskeeda's Tony Pauline reports that there's "a lot of buzz" regarding the Patriots potentially drafting Michigan QB JJ McCarthy at No. 3. Pauline adds that "de facto general manager Eliot Wolf is pushing hard" to draft 21-year-old gunslinger.

Earlier in the year, McCarthy was often seen as the fourth-best QB in this year's class, trailing USC's Caleb Williams, LSU's Jayden Daniels, and UNC's Drake Maye. However, McCarthy's stock skyrocketed following an impressive NFL Scouting Combine, resulting in many experts projecting him to be a top-10 pick in a few weeks.

It's easy to see why some experts are huge McCarthy fans. The 2023 Griese–Brees Quarterback of the Year just led the Michigan Wolverines to a National Championship at 21, so it isn't surprising that people out there believe the sky's the limit.

Could McCarthy go on to have a fruitful NFL career? Yes, but that doesn't mean I'd put any stock in the Patriots drafting him third overall in Las Vegas.

For starters, Daniels is often reported to be the quarterback that the Patriots have their eyes on. They certainly wouldn't complain if Williams fell into their lap, but that likely won't happen with the Chicago Bears and Washington Commanders drafting ahead of them. They were also linked to Maye earlier this year, however, recent reports indicate that the Pats aren't fans of the UNC signal-caller.

It's entirely possible that the Patriots let this "rumor" leak to help drive up the asking price for the No. 3 pick. There are plenty of QB-hungry teams out there who are expecting McCarthy to remain on the board until later in Round 1. If there's a sense that New England is opening to drafting him, an interested party might be desperate enough to offer a monster package to move up.

Nobody would blame the Patriots for trying to maximize a return in a deal, too. While holding an early selection is nice, those players don't always live up to the hype. You just need to look at recent top-three picks like Zach Wilson, Sam Darnold, and Trey Lance to realize that nothing is guaranteed.

Besides, trading back and improving their draft capital could be a genius plan for the Patriots. QBs like Bo Nix, Michael Penix Jr., and Spencer Rattler likely won't be taken until the second half of the first round or later, giving New England options if it wants to wait.

Oddsmakers also point to the franchise likely avoiding McCarthy at No. 3. As of April 2, Daniels and Maye are the +130 co-favorites to be drafted third overall by the Patriots, per FanDuel Sportsbook. McCarthy holds the next-best odds after that, albeit at a distant +400. If you want to take lock-in of these odds, head over to FanDuel Sportsbook and claim your sign-up bonus.

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