NFL

Kadlick’s First-Round NFL Mock Draft: Patriots Land QB of Future in UNC’s Drake Maye

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The 2024 NFL Draft is finally upon us, with the Patriots set to embark on what ownership has described as the “most anticipated” draft of their tenure.

The team holds the No. 3 overall pick, with the just about consensus being that they’ll land North Carolina’s Drake Maye.

But how can they get there? With a no-trades twist, here’s one way the first-round cookie could crumble on Thursday night:


1. Chicago Bears – QB Caleb Williams, USC

Chalk. Ryan Poles & Matt Eberflus could have turned the card in the second the 2023 regular season ended.  Caleb Williams is not only the best quarterback in the class, but the best overall player. His 6-foot-2 frame with an ability to play both on-script and off-script equally as well will makes Bears fans happy for the next decade-plus.

2. Washington Commanders – QB Jayden Daniels, LSU

While this is where it can start to get dicey, pairing former LSU QB Jayden Daniels with offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury and bridge/back-up signal-caller Marcus Mariota just makes too much sense. Daniels, the 2023 Heisman Trophy winner who accounted. for 3,000+ yards and 50+ touchdowns for the Tigers last season, comes into Washington and makes offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury’s job easy.

3. New England Patriots – QB Drake Maye, North Carolina

“[Jerod Mayo] really raved about [Drake Maye] when we talked today,” said NFL Network’s Cameron Wolfe on Wednesday evening. “He talked about how smart he is, how competitive he is… And the last thing he said was the upside… and he said he’s the type of guy who can be a franchise cornerstone.”

Maye (6-foot-4, 223 pounds) threw for 62 touchdown passes over his finals two seasons with the Tar Heels while displaying a rocket arm and high-end athleticism. His footwork may need some time to develop at the next level, but he’ll have the opportunity to work under bridge quarterback Jacoby Brissett and offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt – whose West Coast-adjacent offense puts said footwork at a premium.

4. Arizona Cardinals – WR Marvin Harrison Jr., Ohio State

Despite the love affair Arizona general manager Monti Ossenfort has for working the phones on draft day, the former Pats exec. opts to stick and pick arguably the best prospect we’ve seen in decades: Marvin Harrison Jr.

The most pro-ready player in the class, MHJ’s size, speed, play, and pedigree can help lift Cardinals QB Kyler Murray to new heights in his hopeful resurgence.

5. Los Angeles Chargers – WR Malik Nabers, LSU

After trading away and releasing Justin Herbert’s top two pass catchers in Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, the Chargers quickly find a replacement in LSU’s Malik Nabers. Nabers was a Unanimous All-American in 2023 after hauling in 89 passes for 1,569 yards and 14 touchdowns.

6. New York Giants – QB J.J. McCarthy, Michigan

J.J. McCarthy gave a hint at what team he thinks he’ll land with earlier this week, telling the Rich Eisen Show that he’s “spent the most time with” the Giants during the pre-draft process. The Michigan QB has some uncanny leadership and charisma, and his overlap with the offense Daboll runs could make the transition just about seamless.

7. Tennessee Titans – OT Joe Alt, Notre Dame

Ran Carthon’s dream offseason continues. Control of personnel, Calvin Ridley, La’Jarius Sneed, and now the best offensive lineman in the class in Joe Alt to protect QB Will Levis.

8. Atlanta Falcons – EDGE Dallas Turner, Alabama

After three years straight of drafting offensive weapons (TE Kyle Pitts, WR Drake London, RB Bijan Robinson), the Falcons opt for the first defender off the board this time. Edge rusher Dallas Turner is big, fast, strong, and put up 22.5 sacks in the SEC over the last two seasons.

9. Chicago Bears – WR Rome Odunze, Washington

Helping out their now-franchise quarterback Caleb Williams immediately, the Bears take Washington’s Rome Odunze at No. 9 — adding him to an arsenal of Keenan Allen, D.J. Moore, and Cole Kmet.

10. New York Jets – TE Brock Bowers, Georgia

The, without question, best tight end in the 2024 class is Georgia’s Brock Bowers. He’s lightning quick, has a knack for breaking tackles in the open field, and like Gronk (sorry, Pats fans) makes it look easy. Aaron Rodgers will be thrilled.

11. Minnesota Vikings – Michael Penix Jr., Washington

The Vikings land their franchise quarterback after all, bringing in Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. at pick No. 11. Surrounded by Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, and T.J. Hockenson, Penix has a chance to become a star.

12. Denver Broncos – QB Bo Nix, Oregon

Jarrett Stidham. Ben DiNucci. Zach Wilson. Bo Nix. What a crew! Sean Payton had to be able to make one of them work right?

Right?

13. Las Vegas Raiders – CB Quinyon Mitchell, Toledo

After failing to land their quarterback of the future in a trade up, the Raiders settle for their cornerback of the future in Quinton Mitchell. The Toledo prospect is an elite athlete who intercepted six passes over the last two seasons and also led the country with 25 passes defensed in 2022.

14. New Orleans Saints – OT Olu Fashanu, Penn State

The Saints have a glaring need at offensive tackle, and plug it with Penn State’s Olu Fashanu. Fashanu is a “dancing bear” prospect standing at 6-foot-6, 317 pounds with incredibly athleticism. He was a Consensus All-American and First-Team All-Big 10 in 2023.

15. Indianapolis Colts – CB Terrion Arnold, Alabama

Someone who I’ve described as the Christian Gonzalez of the 2024 cornerback class, Alabama’s Terrion Arnold lands in the Colts’ lap at 15. The 6-foot-0 defensive back is a glove in coverage, reads receivers well, and seldom gets beat due to his smooth hips. Only issue? Like Gonzalez, he’s a sub-par tackler.

16. Seattle Seahawks – OT Taliese Fuaga, Oregon State

Oregon State’s Taliese Fuaga is the best right tackle prospect in this class with elite run-blocking skills. If Seattle can grab him and set him up as a bookend to Charles Cross, Geno Smith and co. could end up cocking on offense.

17. Jacksonville Jaguars – CB Cooper DeJean, Iowa

The Jaguars have been in need of a new CB1 since trading Jalen Ramsey to the Rams a few seasons ago. Enter: Cooper DeJean.

The 6-foot-0 corner is an incredibly sound player who plays with a calculated aggression. DeJean picked off seven passes for the Hawkeyes over the last two seasons, and adds an element to special teams as well. In 2023, he returned 21 punts for 241 yards and a touchdown.

18. Cincinnati Bengals – OT Amarius Mims, Georgia

The Bengals signing OT Trent Brown this offseason should not get in their way of drafting a tackle in the first round.

Amarius Mims is a mammoth at 6-foot-8, 340 pounds, and although a bit on the raw side as a prospect, could be an ideal fit as a swing tackle early on in a room with Brown and Orlando Brown Jr.

19. Los Angeles Rams – DT Byron Murphy II, Texas

The Rams lost their best player this offseason when defensive tackle Aaron Donald decided to retire, but fill the need immediately with their first first-round pick since 2016.

Byron Murphy put up 29 tackles and dive sacks for the Longhorns last season, and has the strength and athleticism to get where he wants despite his smaller frame. Sounds just like Donald to me.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers – OL Troy Fautanu, Washington

The Steelers are in the midst of a quarterback changing of the guards with Russell Wilson signing this offseason, and what better way to protect him than with Washington’s Troy Fautanu. Guard, tackle, doesn’t matter. The former Huskie can play in the league wherever you plug him in.

21. Miami Dolphins – OG Graham Barton, Duke

The top riser along the interior offensive line, Duke’s Graham Barton comes to South Beach to help the Dolphins’ volatile offensive line keep Tua Tagovailoa upright.

22. Philadelphia Eagles – EDGE Laiatu Latu, UCLA

A falling Laitatu Latu due to injury is the perfect crime for Eagles GM Howie Roseman, who loves his value picks. If not for a neck injury that kept him out of football for several seasons, The UCLA edge rusher would be a sure-fire top-10 pick. The Eagles snatch him up.

23. Minnesota Vikings – OL J.C. Latham, Alabama

Keeping Michael Penix Jr. healthy will be paramount to the Vikings’ success moving forward. How do they do that? With Alabama’s J.C. Latham, who has the size and strength to play all across the line in the NFL.

24. Dallas Cowboys – OT Tyler Guyton, Oklahoma

The Cowboys could go wide receiver here if they can’t get things settled with CeeDee Lamb, but assuming they do — add Oklahoma’s Tyler Guyton to the roster to keep Dak Prescott happy, and healthy, in his contract year.

25. Green Bay Packers – CB Kool-Aid McKinstry, Alabama

Aw yeah.

Alabama’s Kool-Aid McKinstry (5-foot-11, 199-pounds) is a versatile defender, who can play both on the boundary and in the slot. He’s long, aggressive, and is one of those players who just gets it. He could shine in Green Bay’s new Jeff Hafley-led defense.

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – EDGE Jared Verse, Florida State

Jared Verse’s football journey from Alabama to Tallahassee take a quick detour to Tampa, giving the Buccaneers a legit threat along their defensive line to balance out the solid again offense led by Baker Mayfield.

27. Arizona Cardinals – DL Jer’Zhan Newton, Illinois

Step 1: Add Marvin Harrison Jr. to your offense.

Step 2: Stick and pick again at No. 27 and bring in Jer’Zhan “Johnny” Newton who notched 27.5 TFLs and 18 sacks over the last two years for Illinois.

28. Buffalo Bills – WR Brian Thomas Jr, LSU

The Bills wide receiver room, depleted after training Stefon Diggs to the Texans earlier this month, adds LSU’s Brian Thomas Jr. for Josh Allen. The 6-foot-2, 209 pound pass catcher ran a lightning quick 4.33 40-yard dash at the Combine, and also led the NCAA with 17 touchdowns last season.

29. Detroit Lions – DL Darius Robinson, Missouri

Darius Robinson, born and raised in Detroit, gets drafted by the Lions, at the draft in Detroit. A fairytale story for the Deatrich Wise Jr. clone.

30. Baltimore Ravens – DL Braden Fiske, Florida State

Braden Fiske is a dude, a mauler, and a day-one type of player whose athleticism helped him to 6 sacks in 2023 and a nod on the All-ACC Second-Team.

31. San Francisco 49ers – WR AD Mitchell, Texas

With either Brandon Aiyuk or Deebo Samuel’s future with the team in question due to a hamstrung salary cap, the 49ers reset their WR room with Texas star AD Mitchell. 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, No. 1 RAS score among WR (9.98/10), 55 catches for 845 yards and a team-high 11 touchdowns in 2023.

32. Kansas City Chiefs – WR Xavier Worthy, Texas

The rich get richer. With Rashee Rice’s future with the team in question due to some legal trouble, Andy Reid and Brett Veach give Patrick Mahomes his latest speedster in Texas’ Xavier Worthy. Worthy (6-foot-1, 172 lbs) clocked in the fastest 40-yard dash in NFL Combine history back in February with a 4.21.


Can’t wait to go 32 for 32.

Follow Mike on Twitter @mikekadlick for the latest up-to-date Patriots and Boston sports news!

Mike Kadlick

Mike is a Patriots reporter with experience in radio, podcasting, and writing. Follow him on Twitter @mikekadlick.

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