The Latest Rumors Surrounding the New England Patriots in the 2024 NFL Draft

With only three days to go until the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft, the rumor mill is working overtime. The New England Patriots, who hold their highest selection in three decades, are right in the middle of the rumblings: as the owners of the third overall pick, there is plenty of talk surrounding the franchise.

The latest batch of rumors coming out shine a spotlight on potential trade partners in case of a move back, the involvement of the team’s ownership, and a dark-horse quarterback candidate. How believable those rumors are is anybody’s guess at this point in time, but for now let’s take a closer look at them through a Patriots-specific lens.

Rumor No. 1: Vikings and Giants have expressed interest in trading to No. 3

There has been no decision yet whether or not the Patriots will trade down from pick No. 3. According to head coach Jerod Mayo, it would take another team to offer “a bag” for the team to move out of its current position.

Teams are trying to find out what New England’s definition of such a bag is, with two in particular having expressed interest in climbing up the board. According to ESPN insider Adam Schefter, who appeared on the Pat McAfee Show on Monday, the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants are among the clubs that have called One Patriot Place.

“New England’s going to listen to teams that call,” Schefter said. “The two teams, in my mind that I’ve been able to ascertain that have been the most active calling up to No. 3 have been the Minnesota Vikings, No. 1, and I think second, if we’re going to quantify it, is the New York Giants. Those are the two teams that have expressed an interest in moving up to No. 3.

“Now, whether they can go up to No. 3 is a whole other issue. Whether New England is willing to go back is a whole other issue. It’s going to take a lot. I don’t know, ultimately, if New England is going to move off that pick. New England may just stay right where it is. … [W]e’ve got the Vikings who’ve expressed the most interest in comping up to No. 3, the Giants have expressed some as well. The Patriots very likely are possible to just sit where they’re at and pick from No. 3.”

Schefter added that the Patriots would be more likely than the Washington Commanderswho sit at No. 2 and are trending toward drafting LSU’s Jayden Daniels, to ultimately trade down. The odds, however, would still favor New England staying put.

The quarterback-needy Patriots under quasi-general manager Eliot Wolf not being categorically opposed to trading their pick — possibly as the first of multiple moves being made — is nothing new. And there is some merit in moving back given the many holes the team has to patch throughout its roster, even with QB the biggest among them.

So far, however, nothing has happened. The Patriots remain sitting in No. 3 for now, and if nothing changes are likely to have their choice of quarterback between North Carolina’s Drake Maye and Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy.

Rumor No. 2: Jonathan Kraft is ‘heavily involved’ in the Patriots’ draft process

While the Patriots have repeatedly stressed the notion of using a more collaborative effort in their first draft after long-time head coach and de facto general manager Bill Belichick, they ultimately have one decision maker in the room: the aforementioned Eliot Wolf, who is officially the team’s director of scouting, will make the call whenever New England is on the clock on Thursday night.

Up until that point, however, he will continue to receive input from his inner circle — a group including first-year head coach Jerod Mayo, director of player personnel Matt Groh, and senior personnel executives Alonzo Highsmith and Patrick Stewart. It sounds like somebody else might have an active hand in the process as well, however.

According to a report by Dianna Russini of The Athletic, Patriots president Jonathan Kraft is “heavily involved in the decision making.”

What exactly this involvement might look like is impossible to gauge from the outside. Is it actively influencing the process? Is it increased interest or oversight? Is it even a deviation from patterns already established under Bill Belichick?

Regardless, any ownership involvement — or even the perception of it — is noteworthy given the Kraft family’s repeated insistence that it would stay out of football matters. It also would potentially be opening the door to a host of potential follow-up issues, something the family itself seems to be well-aware of.

“We try to hire the best people we can find and let them do their job and hold them accountable,” team owner Robert Kraft, Jonathan’s father, said earlier this offseason. “If you get involved and tell them what to do or try to influence them, you can’t hold them responsible and have them accountable. It’ll be within the people’s discretion who are the decision makers to do it.”

With Bill Belichick leaving the organization after nearly a quarter century, the Kraft family has been in the spotlight more often than in the past — for better or worse.

Rumor No. 3: Michael Penix Jr. is a potential quarterback target

The final rumor emerging Monday comes courtesy of Sportskeeda writer Tony Pauline. Besides a source voicing its conviction that the Patriots would ultimately trade down from No. 3 overall, another quarterback’s name was thrown in the ring: Michael Penix Jr. out of the University of Washington.

Penix Jr. is one of the most talented passers in this year’s class, and has been trending toward first-round status over the last few weeks. If so, a New England team trading back might indeed have an eye on him:

In Indianapolis, the belief was that if the Patriots could not select [Jayden] Daniels, they would trade deep into Round 1 and select Michael Penix Jr. As of last week, the belief in the league is that, should the Patriots make a trade with a team such as the Vikings or Broncos, they would lean towards selecting Penix in the middle of Round 1.

The Patriots brought Penix Jr. in for a 30 visit recently, one of four reported passers invited to Gillette Stadium alongside Jayden Daniels, Drake Maye and J.J. McCarthy. While such a visit does signal some level of interest, the team’s plans remain in the dark at this moment — meaning that Penix Jr. may or may not be regarded as a potential target in the mid-first round.

Fact is that New England will have options to address the biggest need on its roster on Thursday, be it by staying put or moving down.

2024-04-22 19:08:26
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