The Super Bowl is in the rearview mirror, the combine looms at the end of the month, and free agency (and the new league year) is just after that. This week, we have draft hypotheticals (including who might be taking the calls for teams inquiring about trades), quarterback and wide receiver questions, as well as one reader who really doesn’t care for Drake Maye.
What’s the logic in taking a QB with so many holes on the roster? Can you leverage trading down to accumulate talent?
— Mike Ricart, Minneapolis
You can certainly trade down in hopes of accumulating more NFL-ready talent. One intriguing possibility floated this week was from Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks of NFL Media, who proposed Chicago taking Caleb Williams at No. 1, and the Patriots swinging a deal with Chicago for Justin Fields and sending the 34th overall choice to the Bears. That would theoretically create a market where teams could call New England for the third pick, and the Patriots could parlay that into players or more draft choices. But that’s just one example of a half-million draft hypotheticals that involve a trade.
The Pats can’t pass on a QB at No. 3. They need cap money to fill holes, not blow it all on Kirk Cousins or another free agent. However, they can move up to late in the first round to get a wide receiver to go with the quarterback, and then sign their own players.
— John Gardner, White Plains, N.Y. (via Swampscott)
In what is shaping up to be a great draft for teams that need quarterbacks, the Patriots should be in prime position to get one at No. 3. With this scenario, that 34th overall choice is going to be appealing for a number of teams; maybe you figure out some sort of package for that pick and a 2025 choice to move into the 20s. That could conceivably get you someone like LSU’s Brian Thomas Jr. (particularly if you take his college teammate Jayden Daniels at No. 3) or UNC’s Tez Walker (if you can find a way to land fellow Tar Heel Drake Maye at No. 3). The only wrinkle here is that because free agency takes place before the draft, you’d have to find a way to address your own players before you dive into the draft.
Suppose a team wanted to move up to No. 3 in the draft and wanted to make a trade with the Patriots. Which person would they call?
— Paul B. Brown, Eastham
Right now, that’s Eliot Wolf. Wolf is starting to emerge as the preeminent personnel man in Foxborough. While he doesn’t necessarily have the GM title, he’s the one who is answering the majority of those calls at Gillette Stadium, at least for the short term.
All this talk of pick value. Isn’t it all a crap shoot? Wouldn’t historical statistical results show we’d be better off with more picks — more bites at the apple, in case one of them actually works?
— Joe C., Fall River
Joe, I agree with most of what you’re saying here; your chances are greater of finding someone if you have more picks. But this year in particular, there’s something to the idea of taking some extra care with that No. 3 pick, especially in a draft that’s considered quarterback-rich. You can flip those later picks around all you want. But that third overall selection is an important one in an important offseason for New England.
Does the Rooney Rule apply to hiring GMs too? Could this be why Kraft hasn’t named an official GM, even though Eliot Wolf, for all intents and purposes, is handling the GM duties?
— Jack Sheehan, Amherst
I can tell you the answer to the first question is yes, the Rooney Rule does apply to hiring GMs. According to the league, teams are required to interview at least two minority candidates for vacant head coach, GM, and coordinator positions. As for the second question, that’s unknown, at least at this point.
Will they get back to being a sound organization with a solid long-term plan?
— Bob Dignan, California (via Wakefield)
Sure, and the first step in the road back will be hitting their targets during an absolutely vital offseason, both in the draft and free agency. That being said, if you want to embark on a two- to three-year road to respectability and the playoffs, there’s no margin for error, at least with the quarterback position. If you get that wrong this offseason, you fall back into that cycle that historically can take even the most competent teams roughly three years to get out of.
Why are there not bigger warning signs with Drake Maye? He couldn’t beat out Sam Howell for the starting job at UNC, and Howell has been a terrible NFL QB. Maye gives me lots of Mitch Trubisky vibes, down to the fact that they both went to UNC.
— PJ Flynn, Hadley
So we can put you down as a “no” on Maye? (Duke fan, I’m guessing.) Maye will be better than Mitch Trubisky, Honestly, he has a chance to be a very good NFL quarterback if he gets in the right system.
In my experience, the ceiling for some of the other top-tier quarterbacks in this draft is much greater than it is with Maye. When it comes to the Howell comparison, it’s important to take into account some other things when you stack college quarterbacks against each other.
College coaches can be far more dogmatic in their approach. Maybe Howell was a better fit for the UNC offense that year? (And it’s worth noting Maye had great numbers this past season after Howell left for the NFL.)
Not saying you’re off-base in your assessment. It’s just that we have to remember (and this is an extreme example) Drew Henson was a more sought-after college prospect than Tom Brady. How’d that work out for everyone?