Latest Quarterback Draft Buzz is Bad News for Patriots Fans

Mar 1, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye (QB04) talks to the media
Mar 1, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye (QB04) talks to the media / Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Holding the third overall pick in the rapidly approaching 2024 NFL Draft, the widespread consensus has been that the New England Patriots would be selecting a quarterback to help reset the troubling downward trajectory of the franchise.

For months, Patriots fans have been operating largely under the assumption that USC QB and former Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams will go first overall to the Chicago Bears, and that New England will move forward with either LSU Heisman winner Jayden Daniels or UNC signal caller Drake Maye as their quarterback of the future.

However, one particular quarterback prospect has been picking up steam in connection with the Patriots, and Patriots fans don't seem all too keen on this development. Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy has been increasingly tied to New England in recent weeks amid a flurry of insiders suggesting that the Patriots could have him much higher on their draft board than the public had been led to believe.

Many commentators who were initially skeptical of the hype train surrounding McCarthy have walked back their previous dismissal of the notion that McCarthy could go inside the top three picks.

After McCarthy's pro day, former Patriots quarterback Scott Zolak, who is also New England's radio color commentator and co-host of Zolak & Bertrand on 98.5 The Sports Hub, "apologized" for slandering McCarthy in his past evaluations of the quarterback. Zolak, who is obviously well connected between his playing days and analyst role on the radio broadcast, followed up his "apology" by stating on Wednesday that it "wouldn't shock him" if the Patriots did ultimately pull the trigger on McCarthy at three.

Michael Holley of NBC Sports Boston furthered this narrative on Tuesday, going even further to suggest that he could be atop New England's list of preferred quarterbacks.

"There's a really good chance he could wind up on the New England Patriots. I'm hearing more and more chatter that J.J. McCarthy is high, if not first, on the boards of the Washington Commanders and the New England Patriots. He may be QB1 for both of those teams."

Michael Holley

Senior NFL reporter Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports echoed Holley's reporting (2:06:10 mark) that the Patriots could have McCarthy as their top-ranked quarterback, ahead of even Caleb Williams.

McCarthy has been a polarizing prospect, with many critics pointing to the juggernaut talent level of his team at Michigan and tagging him with the dreaded "system quarterback" label. Entering last season's college season, McCarthy wasn't even ranked among the top 50 NFL Draft prospects. Since the beginning of the offseason, New England fans have essentially perceived the third overall pick as a two man race between Maye and Daniels, and the introduction of McCarthy as a dark horse candidate has not been well received among the fanbase.

NBC Sports Boston tested the waters on Patriots fans' feelings on McCarthy in a few polls over the past few days. One poll asked fans "which QB not named Caleb Williams do you most want the Pats to draft". Drake Maye led the way with 56% of the vote, while Daniels came in second with 21%, and McCarthy sat third with 13%. Michael Penix Jr. polled at 8% while Bo Nix only received 2% of the vote.

Another poll asked fans if "Caleb Williams and Jayden Daniels go 1-2, which QB should the Patriots draft at #3?" That poll saw Drake Maye once again lead the way with 62% of the vote, with J.J. McCarthy taking the other 38%.

The Patriots may be warming to the idea of drafting J.J. McCarthy with the third overall pick, but it doesn't sound like Patriots fans are so hot on the idea quite yet.