The Patriots face a regime-defining decision Thursday night at the 2024 NFL draft.

With New England set to pick third overall, its director of scouting, Eliot Wolf, made it clear during his pre-draft press conference that the team will keep its options open while on the clock.

During that 15-minute session, Wolf acknowledged the possibility of taking a quarterback, trading back, trading up, and even staying put and not taking a QB.

So let’s dive into all of the possibilities the Patriots face at No. 3 overall and rank them based on their likelihood.

Mock Draft Football

North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye is one of the players New England could select if it chooses to stay put at No. 3 and pick a signal caller. Jacob Kupferman/Associated Press


The most logical move. Even though we’re at the point in the pre-draft process where every quarterback has been overanalyzed and nitpicked to death, there are at least three who are widely regarded as worthy of a top-three pick: Caleb Williams of Southern Cal, Jayden Daniels of LSU and Drake Maye of North Carolina. J.J. McCarthy of Michigan also has a lot of fans around the NFL.


Quarterback is clearly the Patriots’ top need because of the importance of the position. If they hit on a quarterback, whether that’s Daniels, Maye or McCarthy (Williams is almost certainly being drafted first overall by the Bears), then Wolf and new head coach Jerod Mayo will have jobs in New England for a long time.

Robert Kraft, the Patriots’ owner, said last month at the NFL meeting that he’d like his team to wind up with a “top-rated, young quarterback” in the draft. He also said he’d evaluate Wolf’s role as the head of player personnel after the draft.

Wolf and his staff can’t mess this up.

And sure, as Bill Belichick recently said on “The Pat McAfee Show,” a first-round quarterback is only a 50/50 proposition. So the QB the Patriots take might not wind up being the future of the franchise.

But they’re in a much better position to land what they need in a franchise quarterback knowing they’re picking third in what’s regarded as a strong class for the position than they might be in the future when they could be picking anywhere with a weak crop of passers.

But since Wolf isn’t coming out and saying a quarterback definitely will be the pick, other options must be considered.



This one is a risk. Yes, the Patriots could trade down from No. 3 overall and still wind up with one of the top four quarterbacks, but it’s no guarantee, especially if a deal is consummated with the team best positioned to trade up, the Vikings, who hold the 11th and 23rd overall picks in the draft.

And we’re not discounting the possibility that a trade-down could involve a player. For the Vikings, the best options would be wide receiver Justin Jefferson and offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw, both of whom would fill major needs for the Patriots.

It seems unlikely that the fourth quarterback – likely McCarthy – would be there at No. 11 overall, but the Patriots could swing a second deal to move back up. The Cardinals, at No. 4 overall, and the Chargers, picking fifth, both seem like prime candidates to move back.

So let’s say the Vikings trade Nos. 11, 23 and a future first to the Patriots. Then the Patriots package either Nos. 11 and 23 or No. 11 and a future first to move back up to Nos. 4 or 5. Is that worth it to take the fourth-best quarterback?

It would likely require a conversation with the Vikings about which quarterback they want. Because if the Patriots value that player significantly higher than the fourth quarterback, then it’s not worth it. But if it’s close, or if the Patriots actually like the fourth quarterback more, then it’s a no-brainer, as complicated as it might be.


The Giants are another team that could be interested in trading up from No. 6 overall.


This option is much less complicated but would likely require the Patriots to settle for a quarterback like Bo Nix of Oregon or Michael Penix Jr. of Washington later in the first round or early in the second.

The issue with trading with the Vikings is there’s no real guarantee the Patriots would land one of the three top wide receivers or three top offensive tackles at No. 11 overall, either.

So, if Williams, Daniels, Maye, McCarthy, Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr., LSU wide receiver Malik Nabers, Washington wide receiver Rome Odunze, Notre Dame offensive tackle Joe Alt, Oregon State offensive tackle Taliese Fuaga and Washington offensive tackle Troy Fautanu are all gone, then what exactly do the Patriots do here?

Take the top defender? Draft tight end Brock Bowers? Neither option is ideal for a team in desperate need at QB, wide receiver and tackle.



This option is tricky because the Washington Commanders, who hold the second overall pick, are also expected to take a quarterback. But if the Patriots and Commanders order their quarterbacks differently, or if the Patriots greatly prefer one player over the others, then they could potentially move up to No. 2 overall to draft their favorite out of Daniels, Maye and McCarthy.

Cotton Bowl Ohio St Football

Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. is an option at No. 3 if the Patriots decide not a draft a quarterback. Jay LaPrete/Associated Press


This option might send Patriots fans into an actual fervor. But in a normal draft without so many worthy quarterbacks, then Harrison, Nabers, Odunze or Alt would be fine picks at No. 3 overall.

The Patriots arguably need help at wide receiver and offensive tackle even more than at quarterback in 2024.

But beyond 2024? The Patriots need to build around a quarterback. And if they’re picking later in 2025 in a weak quarterback class, then they would be shut out at the position.

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