Drake Maye, who the Patriots selected with the third pick in the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday, poses with owner Robert Kraft, left, and team president Jonathan Kraft, right, on Friday in Foxborough, Mass. Charles Krupa/Associated Press

FOXBOROUGH, Mass — The Patriots can’t let history repeat itself.

Three years ago, the team drafted Mac Jones, the first time the Patriots franchise drafted a quarterback in the first round since Drew Bledsoe in 1993. As that season unfolded, it looked like New England had its heir apparent to Tom Brady.

Jones didn’t have elite upside, but he put together one of the best seasons for a rookie quarterback in NFL history. His 3,801 passing yards were the fifth most for a rookie passer. His 22 touchdowns tied him for the eighth most all-time. Jones finished that season with a 67.6 completion percentage, which was the second-best in NFL history for a rookie quarterback.

Instead of building on that solid rookie campaign, which earned Jones a spot on the NFL Network’s Top 100 Players, the quarterback regressed over his next two seasons and was traded last month.

There was plenty of blame to go around. Former coach Bill Belichick’s decision to have Matt Patricia replace Josh McDaniels, who left to become the head coach in with the Raiders, as the offensive player caller was a terrible decision. The Patriots lacked elite offensive weapons and struggled to find a competent right tackle. Jones wasn’t perfect and didn’t always handle things well, but his relationship with Belichick grew to toxic levels last season.

As one Patriots source said, “We ruined Mac Jones.”


That can’t be the case this time around. On Thursday night, the Patriots once again drafted a quarterback in the first round, selecting Drake Maye with the third overall pick. If Coach Jerod Mayo and de facto general manager Eliot Wolf are going to be successful, they know they need to better support their young quarterback.

“I just think we need to support him any way we can – on the field, off the field,” Wolf said on Thursday night. “We need to add some weapons to the offense. We need to shore up the offensive line. We have good players already at those positions, but really just increasing the depth and competition.”

The Patriots can learn several things about how it went wrong with Jones. Wolf mentioned two priorities for the team moving forward.

Right now, it starts with adding more weapons to the offense. That was a huge issue for Jones last season before he lost his starting job to Bailey Zappe. For two seasons, Jones’ best receiver was Jakobi Meyers. Meyers is a solid, reliable pass catcher, but not a Pro Bowl-caliber player.

Still, it was surprising when the Patriots opted to sign JuJu Smith-Schuster in 2022 and not Meyers, who signed with Las Vegas. Meyers finished with 71 receptions for 807 yards and a career-high eight touchdowns last season. His replacement, Smith-Schuster, finished with 29 receptions for 260 yards and one touchdown.

Last year, after Kendrick Bourne went down with a knee injury, Demario ‘Pop’ Douglas finished as the Patriots leading receiver with 561 yards.


Wolf knows that won’t cut it, which is why he said he wanted to “weaponize” the Patriots offense earlier this offseason. It’s why the Patriots put together a competitive offer for Calvin Ridley, who signed for more money in Tennessee.

Duke's Mayo Bowl Preview Football

The Patriots need to support Drake Maye, who they selected in the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday night, than they did Mac Jones, who they selected in the first round of the 2021 draft. Jacob Kupferman/Associated Press

The Patriots signed veteran receiver K.J. Osborn and he could be a top-three receiver in New England, but the team needs a bona fide receiver. The Patriots need to give Maye a Pro Bowl-caliber security blanket.

Of course, that’s if he has time to throw the ball. Over the last two seasons, the Patriots have had pass protection issues. In 2023, they allowed 48 sacks. That’s the most by a Patriots team since 2008. Issues arose due to the team’s inability to find a capable starting right tackle until they moved Michael Onwenu to that spot.

Before Onwenu, the Patriots started a laundry list of journeymen at right tackle over the last two seasons. That list included Isaiah Wynn, Conor McDermott, Marcus Cannon, Yodny Cajuste, Calvin Anderson, and Vederian Lowe.

Poor pass protection led to Jones suffering a back injury in Week 1 of the 2022 season followed by a high ankle sprain. Poor pass protection that season also led to Brian Hoyer suffering a concussion.

The Patriots can’t let that happen again and they can’t go into next season with a major question mark at the tackle position. As of right now, they don’t have an experienced starting left tackle on the roster. The Patriots lost Trent Brown signed with Cincinnati. They added Chukwuma Okorafor, who played left tackle in college but has been a right tackle in the NFL.


Due to the issues at left tackle and receiver, the Patriots were considered by many to be a bad landing spot for a rookie quarterback. That’s something that Maye said he disagrees with.

“I think they’re wrong,” Maye said. “That defense last year held a lot of teams to low points. Looking forward to helping any way offensively and looking forward to being with Coach Mayo in his first year. I think anybody who’s saying that – we’ll find out. We’ll find out this season. I’m going to work hard with the guys and hope to prove them wrong.”

The other part of this equation is the coaching. Maye is a young, talented player, but his mechanics need to be refined. The Patriots knew they were going to draft a quarterback this year and attempted to set up their coaching staff with people who could adequately support a rookie.

That’s why they hired offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt, who played quarterback in the NFL, quarterbacks coach T.C. McCartney, who was a quarterback at LSU, and offensive analyst Ben McAdoo, an experienced offensive coordinator.

Jones had anything but a nurturing environment in New England. Last season, it got so bad that Belichick stopped speaking to him.

The Patriots know they need to do things differently this time around. Although Mayo and Wolf want to return this franchise to its glory days, they can’t repeat the same mistakes that plagued the team over the last three seasons.

That starts with supporting Maye.

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