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

Nine leftover thoughts after the first draft of the new era of the New England Patriots:

1. Maye could start sooner than expected

The Patriots believe in Drake Maye’s toughness. His football IQ. His arm talent, and ability to become a franchise quarterback.

So, why exactly, won’t he start Week 1? The rest of the roster isn’t ready for him. Fair.

The offensive line remains a weakness, one of the groups that accelerated their last quarterback’s downfall. If Maye is not protected, he could be ruined. Yet there are more ways to protect Maye than a well-built offensive line.

The Patriots can insulate him with a run-heavy offense. Bootleg play-action. Quick passing game plans that sprinkle in enough misdirection to keep opposing defenses honest. Maye can thrive throwing quick passes.


Last season, on passes attempted within 2.5 seconds after the snap, he threw an accurate ball 78.1% of the time for 1,434 yards, 12 touchdowns and three interceptions.

Maye is low on experience, but is bursting with talent. The more he plays, the faster he develops, and the faster he develops, the faster the Patriots can burst back onto the playoff scene. If Maye matches Jacoby Brissett’s performance through training camp and the preseason, it will be hard to sell the rest of the team on why Brissett should start over the future of the franchise.

That said …

2. Left tackle still unsolved

From a column I wrote March 31: “Here are the Patriots’ best options at left tackle: ex-Steelers right tackle Chukwuma Okorafor (who’s only really played left tackle in the preseason), Calvin Anderson (who didn’t play left tackle last year), Vederian Lowe and Conor McDermott.”

Since then, the Patriots have cut McDermott and drafted third-round rookie Caedan Wallace, a career college right tackle. That’s it.


Offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt and offensive line coach Scott Peters convinced Coach Jerod Mayo that Wallace can make the switch, something Mayo shared Saturday. Director of scouting/de facto GM Eliot Wolf believes Wallace’s athleticism will allow him to change positions.

I’m more skeptical. And the fact the Patriots appear to be employing the same approach they did last season to right tackle – throwing a bunch of replacement-level veterans and mid-round picks at the job – gives me concern.

Not that Wallace or Okorafaor won’t make the switch, but personally, I’d like my next left tackle to have played meaningful snaps at the position before he protects my rookie quarterback’s blind side.

Patriots Barmore Football

Defensive tackle Christian Barmore and the Patriots have agreed to a four-year contract extension worth up to $92 million, according to a person with knowledge of the deal. David Zalubowski/Associated Press

3. Barmore’s extension a clear win

The Patriots finally locked up defensive tackle Christian Barmore on a four-year, $84 million extension Monday. The numbers in a vacuum are a bit jarring, but within an exploding defensive tackle market, they should age well. Barmore, just 24, is being paid like the 12th-best defensive tackle in the league right now by total guarantees.

He is tracking to be in that neighborhood next season, and exceed it soon thereafter. Good deal.


4. Eliot Wolf true to his word

He extended the Patriots core players. He spent wisely in free agency. He drafted a quarterback, two receivers to weaponize the offense and more offensive lineman. It has not been an A-plus offseason for the Patriots, or even an A-minus. I’d call it a solid B. But Wolf deserves an extension, and if the Krafts disagree, they haven’t been paying attention.

Wolf told them what he would do, told us what he would do, and then went out and did it.

5. Wolf’s fingerprints still on the staff

Now that the Patriots’ rookie-laden roster has been assembled, The Packer Way dictates they will play young players more than in-house veterans. Draft and develop.

That leaves coaches like Van Pelt, Peters and Mayo to maximize their talent. And whether they succeed or fail, remember how most new assistant coaches got here: Wolf. Van Pelt was the 12th candidate reported to interview for the Pats’ OC job, after crossing paths with Wolf in Green Bay. The Browns did not stop a few of Van Pelt’s assistants from leaving, some of whom knew Wolf, as well. That staff, along with the hiring of ex-Packers defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery, has Wolf’s fingerprints all over it.


6. The most exciting camp since the Brady era

A new rookie quarterback with elite traits. A rookie backup quarterback who can throw the ball over the stadium. Rookie receivers who could legitimately break out in a new offense instead of getting added to the pile of their failed predecessors from the Tom Brady era.

Not to mention, a new head coach bringing fresh energy and a new vision.

The Patriots won’t win many games this season, but fans have more reasons to head down to Foxborough this summer than in years.

7. Belichick draft picks on alert

The fourth-round selection of Texas A&M right guard Layden Robinson raised an eyebrow here. And it should have caused the same for 2023 late-round picks Sidy Sow, Jake Andrews and Atonio Mafi.


Based on last year’s performance, Sow is the only player whose roster spot figures to be safe, but he plays the same position as Robinson. That selection was a sign that players who were drafted by and played under Belichick are not necessarily viewed similarly by the new regime, or safe come cutdown day.

Among the players who could be in danger by the end of the summer: quarterback Bailey Zappe, left guard Cole Strange and wide receivers Tyquan Thornton and Kayshon Boutte.

New England Patriots first-round draft pick Drake Maye has appeared open and honest in his dealings with the media thus far, signaling a change from the days when former coach Bill Belichick controlled the message out of Foxborough. Charles Krupa/Associated Press

8. Maye gets it

Yes, it’s softball season. For rookies like Maye, there are no stakes with the media yet. The questions are safe. And none of them have taken a single snap yet – not even in non-padded rookie minicamp.

But Maye just gets it. All of his answers to date have exuded a strong sense of self and the job ahead. There’s a charisma about him. Maye has already contacted the Patriots’ other draft picks to connect before they return to Foxborough early next month.

Most recently, during a Monday interview, Maye owned the fact that of course he wants to start Week 1 over veteran Jacoby Brissett. He didn’t work from a coach-approved script or preset list of cliches, never speaking his own truth (hello, Mac Jones). Yet while admitting his ambition, Maye also owned the newness of his situation.


That he’s a 21-year-old kid stepping into a NFL locker room full of alpha teammates whose respect will be earned, not given.

“For me, (I) just want to earn the respect of the guys and get to know ’em first,” Maye said.

9. I was a tad harsh

I gave the Patriots’ second-round selection of Washington wideout Ja’Lynn Polk a B-minus over the weekend. After re-watching more of Polk’s film, I’d bump that to a B.

Polk is a natural receiver, from his body control to his hands, plus size, catch radius and ability to track deep passes. Polk created several explosive plays in Washington and threatened all three levels of the field. My hesitation remains his physical upside, something the Patriots chased with Maye and Baker, among other picks.

Basically, I asked, how much does Polk change the Patriots down to down on offense?

But that framing is unfair for a second-round pick, even if Polk has all the opportunity he needs in New England to start Week 1. And I believe he will start Week 1, which makes this a solid B.

Comments are not available on this story.