What is fairly safe to say today is that Mayo will bring a whole new flavor of refreshing candor, levity and charisma in his dealings with the media — a stark contrast to the legendary curmudgeon that is Belichick. Further proof of this came in Mayo’s appearance on WEEI Radio, where he dropped hints about what lies ahead for New England in one of the most crucial offseasons in franchise history:
“We’re bringing in talent, 1000%. We have a lot of cap space and cash — ready to burn some cash!”
You just love to hear a guy who’s embracing the new gig, is still in the honeymoon phase, and yet knows that he has big shoes to fill but isn’t shying away from the challenge. New England has over $57 million in effective cap space to play with. That’s the fifth-most in the NFL.
I’m not saying that totally tips their hand as to what they plan to do with the third overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. It’s just that, well, you can kind of read between the lines of what Mayo said regarding that premium asset:
“I would say we’re going to take the best available player for the biggest need on the team. That’s what we’re going to do. Offensive line, receiver, quarterback pick your — [*CUT OFF*].”
The interviewer makes a great point about how Mayo has been with the organization for all his years as a former linebacker, plus several as a member of Belichick’s coaching staff. He knows what’s wrong with the team. He knows the quarterback is what makes the operation fire on all cylinders.
There are some premium offensive tackles New England could take at third overall. That feels like a Belichick pick, though. The o-line isn’t in that bad of shape. As long as right tackle Michael Onwenu is re-signed, all that remains is addressing left tackle. I would lean toward someone like Houston’s Patrick Paul, who should be able to be had in Round 2 and is an excellent pass protector.
That leaves the high-impact positions of wide receiver and QB. Belichick was notorious for whiffing on wideouts. I’d give the bag to somebody in free agency, and/or use a Day 2 pick at the position. Heisman Trophy-winning QBs like LSU’s Jayden Daniels who are expected to fall to the third pick don’t grow on trees.
Everyone expects USC’s Caleb Williams and UNC’s Drake Maye to go first and second overall respectively. Daniels is an electrifying, dual-threat playmaker who threw for 40 TDs to just four INTs and routinely ran away from SEC defenders with sensational open-field speed. We’re talking about a Lamar Jacks0n-calibertalent. Is he any good?
Circling back to Mayo’s take on Pats’ high first-round pick: If you don’t have “the guy” under center, that is your biggest need by default. Mac isn’t “the guy.” When you get a quarterback on a rookie contract, too, you don’t have to pay him truckloads of money for years. That only further aligns with Mayo’s strategy to spend big on the open market.
Usually, if you’re projected to draft the third QB available at third overall, you’re reaching. In my opinion, it won’t be like that this year.
The 2024 class of QBs is expected to be one of the best ever. I realize that was said in 2021 and didn’t pan out, but just look at the year before, for instance. Joe Burrow (first overall), Tua Tagovailoa (fifth), and Justin Herbert (sixth) all hit. To continue on that 2020 track, does New England really want to pray that a Jordan Love (26th) or a Jalen Hurts (53rd) will fall to them in the late first or second round?
In this new class, you’d likely be choosing between screen machine Bo Nix, oft-injured Michael Penix Jr., and a dubious NFL prospect in JJ McCarthy. I like Nix and Penix a great deal to be honest. Not so much at No. 3 overall; not as much as Jayden Daniels.
I actually posted a pretty fire mock draft scenario a while back to address all the Pats’ offensive needs, with Penn State left tackle Olumuyiwa Fashanu being the top choice after a trade-down with Atlanta. Pats Nation could even disregard the fake trade for Jake Browning and still be reasonably pleased with the outcome. This was before Belichick was even linked to the Falcons job — how about that!?
With Jerod Mayo in place and the Patriots largely sticking to their organizational status quo, I could totally see them trading for Jake Browning (once he signs his ERFA tender), drafting a QB late R1/early R2 after trading down from No. 3 overall 🤔 https://t.co/lh3UUojhA9pic.twitter.com/vQegGCujmV
Because I know y’all asked, here’s my updated plan on how I’d plot out New England’s first three draft picks. No gimmicky trades in this one. Still using PFF’s mock simulator, which is the best/most realistic on the market in my humble opinion:
Round 1, Pick 3: Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU
Round 2, Pick 34: Patrick Paul, LT, Houston
Round 3, Pick 68: Johnny Wilson, WR, Florida State
I’ve already touched on Paul, and expounded upon Daniels a decent amount. Johnny Wilson was a bit overshadowed by fellow freakazoid Keon Coleman at Florida State. What’s great about Wilson is, whomever his quarterback would hypothetically be in Foxborough, said quarterback would have a large margin of error when throwing him the ball.
Wilson is 6-foot-7, 237 pounds with more twitch and suddenness than you’d imagine from a man that size. He qualified for Bruce Feldman’s annual Freaks List, with a top-end, in-pads game speed of 21.23 MPH. That is MOVING. Throw in the innate, massive catch radius, and Wilson, while still a little raw, is the classic flier you’d want to take on somebody early in the third round. With tight ends Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki hitting free agency, you could possibly move Wilson to that spot and make him a real matchup nightmare.
Sounds like the Patriots’ approach to the draft will be by committee in nature. Just saying, Jerod Mayo, my lines of communication are open. Hit me up if you wanna f*ck around and start another dynasty.