Patriots Hold the Key to This Year’s Loaded NFL Draft QB Class

Even if New England trades down in Round 1, the team could take a quarterback. Plus answers to your mailbag questions on the Jets, Raiders, Bills and more with the draft only days away.
Where will Penix end up on draft day?
Where will Penix end up on draft day? / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Eight days left until the NFL draft, I’m back stateside and you guys had questions …

From Beantown Jimmy (@BriceJamesSr): Do you think Michael Penix Jr. is a real option for the Patriots?

From Jonas Søhus (@Jonassoehus): You think Pats are staying put at No. 3 or trading down?

Jimmy, what I think is interesting about it is that it was put on the calendar a little later in the process than 30 visits with Jayden Daniels, Drake Maye and J.J. McCarthy. That might indicate that the New England Patriots are a little more seriously considering a trade down that would take them out of range to have a chance at those three—and, to be sure, the sort of trade-down-then-up scenario that Arizona pulled off last year has been a discussion point.

Jonas, I also certainly could see the Minnesota Vikings or New York Giants coming up to No. 3 to get Maye.

Now with that established, let’s add some perspective. The Patriots sent large contingents headed by GM Eliot Wolf and head coach Jerod Mayo to pro days for Daniels, Maye and McCarthy. A smaller one of four folks, led by college scouting director Cam Williams, made it to Penix’s pro day in Seattle, which was held the same day as Maye’s was in North Carolina. The Patriots also met with the other three, and not Penix, at the combine.

So meeting with Penix in Foxboro, Mass., made up for some lost time, and it also matched how the Patriots met extensively with Bo Nix at Oregon’s pro day (Nix wasn’t one of the Patriots’ 30 visitors to Foxboro). Could it be the harbinger of a trade down with the Vikings, and the selection of the Washington star at pick No. 11 or 23? Sure. It also could simply be preparation for the potential that Minnesota winds up blowing the Patriots away.

Sometimes, it’s hard to read intent, and this is one of those cases. But it always makes sense for a team to be prepared, and especially at that position.

From jetlyfe (@popthatcap): Do you foresee the Jets drafting a qb?

Jet Lyfe, I’d be surprised if it happened before the Saturday of draft weekend, which probably puts the top seven guys out of reach. If South Carolina’s Spencer Rattler happens to fall to the fourth round at pick No. 111? Maybe. Could Tulane’s Michael Pratt be a possibility later on? Sure, he could be.

But the New York Jets are still very much in a win-now posture, and have just two picks (10 and 72) in the first three rounds. I think in the first round, it’s probably a tackle or maybe Georgia TE Brock Bowers. Then, at 72, someone who can realistically contribute now. After that, I could see the team pursue things that are less pressing—with the possibility they take a quarterback on Day 3, and perhaps a plan to find Rodgers’s successor in the 2025 draft.

Nov 18, 2023; Columbia, South Carolina, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks’ Spencer Rattler runs away from a Kentucky defender.
Rattler (7) presents an intriguing option for any QB-needy teams who don’t take a signal-caller in Round 1. / Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

From Doug Lobo (@raiderd69): What are the Raiders doing at 13?

Doug, the Las Vegas Raiders have enough issues to where a lot of different things are on the table.

First of all, yes, they have investigated trading up. Yes, head coach Antonio Pierce was with Jayden Daniels for three years at Arizona State and, yes, I do believe the Raiders would like the idea of adding Daniels to their quarterback room. I’m just not sure it’s realistic, with the Washington Commanders holding the cards on that one, and I’m not sure the Raiders would trade up for another QB.

Would they stick and pick one at 13? That’s a different question. Penix at 13, I think, is an interesting guy to consider, since Gardner Minshew and Aidan O’Connell top their depth chart. (While we’re there, Bo Nix could be an interesting consideration for them on Day 2, and is probably a better stylistic fit for OC Luke Getsy’s offense, if with less upside).

But if it’s not a quarterback, it’s easy to see the Raiders going a number of different directions, with the potential for a quality add to the offensive line or one of the top two corners (Terrion Arnold or Quinyon Mitchell) being a likely conclusion.

From Jake (@Billsfan1712): What are the Bills plans in the draft? Trade up , down or stay at 28?

Jake, I think if a top receiver falls into the right area, maybe—maybe—the Buffalo Bills consider a move.

Thing is, though, they’re sort of in a different spot right now. Josh Allen is well into his second contract. They offloaded Stefon Diggs, Micah Hyde, Jordan Poyer, Tre’Davious White and Mitch Morse, let Gabe Davis go in free agency. Those moves leave a team with a lot of needs to fill as it tries to create Allen Era 2.0.

As it stands, the Bills have 10 picks. And yes, the idea of trading up for Malik Nabers or Rome Odunze is fun to think about. So let’s say you have to jump to ninth overall to get there (and the Chicago Bears have investigated moving down). On the Jimmy Johnson draft chart, the gap between 28 and 9 is 690 points. The Bills’ next pick, 60th overall, is worth 300 points. The team’s other eight picks add up to 204 points. So you’d have to dip into next year, and probably use at least a Day 2 pick, or maybe more, to get up there.

As good as Nabers and Odunze are, I just think there are too many places to find a receiver in today’s NFL—Deebo Samuel, A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf and Terry McLaurin were all Day 2 picks in the same draft—to throw caution to the wind, and empty the warchest to get them if you have multiple needs. So if I’m Buffalo, maybe you get an A.D. Mitchell at 28, then go about finding a corner at 60, and start backfilling shallow spots on the roster on Day 3.

From DCbro (@BGlegend11): Is Dallas rebuilding after this year?

No. The Dallas Cowboys have too many good players for that. I do think that Dallas will wind up having Dak Prescott, CeeDee Lamb and Micah Parsons for the long term, Trevon Diggs is locked up, and the roster has rising young guys like Tyler Smith and Osa Odighizuwa entrenched.

Now, if they fail to get out of the first round, or even make the playoffs, this year, then changes will come. But I don’t see the team detonating what it has there now, which ultimately I think will help Prescott, Lamb and Parsons get paid.

From TK (@tomkelly9876): Are Penix & Nix getting the Willis/Levis treatment and in the end neither will be first rounders? Or is there actually a chance we see 6 QBs go in the first round?

I doubt six go in the first round. Five is possible.

But, sure, there is the possibility that either Penix or Nix falls into that sort of quarterbacking abyss that can create a draft day freefall (Nix being more likely). It has happened a lot over the years, and for a very simple reason—if a team thinks you’re a potential long-term starter at the position, they’ll probably spend a first-rounder on you; where if they don’t, they’ll struggle to give up a second or a third to get you.

The numbers bear it out, too. Thirty-two quarterbacks have gone in the first round in the last 10 drafts. Just 22 have gone in the second and third rounds combined, and 13 of those were in the third round.

So if, say, Nix slides out of the first round because too many teams see him as a backup (possible), then it’s not out of line to think he might have to wait a while on Day 2.

From Self Loving Lions Fan (@WhoAmI_1976): Do you see a team like the Lions being aggressive on day 1 of the draft and if they do who do you think it would be for.

The Detroit Lions are certainly in position to be aggressive. They have seven picks, missing a fourth rounder, but carrying two sixth-rounders. They have few holes on their roster. So because they are picking 29th, the idea that they could move up for something would make sense.

What would that something be? I’d have my eye on an edge-rusher or corner, and based on the makeup of the class, it feels like a corner would be more likely. Remember, Detroit traded for Carlton Davis in March, and was sniffing around L’Jarius Sneed. So if Arnold or Mitchell made it to, say, 20th overall, maybe GM Brad Holmes makes a move.

From Kevin Alt (@Alternator83): There seems to be speculation of Bears considering a trade up for Marvin Harrison Jr. do you see any scenario where that happens?

Kevin, I think there’s a good chance that the Bears could move either way—up or down. And down might be more likely than up right now.

The reason why is that Chicago just doesn’t have enough picks to work with. They have Nos. 1 (which is spoken for), 9, 75 and 122. Again, using the draft chart, their fourth-rounder would be enough to get them from 9 to 8, and the third-rounder would carry value that could get them to 7 or even 6. But at that point, you’re talking about having a two- or three-man draft class, and I’m not sure Ryan Poles wants to do that.

What I could see is Chicago moving down with someone like the Indianapolis Colts or Jacksonville Jaguars, who have sniffed around on the idea of going up for a skill player, and might be interested in 9 if Nabers, Odunze or both slip there (or if Brock Bowers is sitting there), to pick up more capital for Days 2 and 3.

From MattMatt (@Matty_Lew85): If Odunze or Nabers is there at 8 can you see the falcons taking one of them?

Nabers, yes. Odunze less so.

If I had to pencil a name in for the Atlanta Falcons at 8 right now, it’d be Alabama edge-rusher Dallas Turner. But if Nabers slides into their laps, I could see them saying—even with their surplus of highly-drafted skill talent—he’s simply too good to pass on.

From Ceri Dovey (@ukgiantsfan1): If the Giants go QB in R1, which position - WR, RB or TE - offers a greater impact in R3/70 given the current roster, likelihood that Waller retires and players most likely to be available?

I’d say it’s probably receiver. This isn’t a great running back class. Ditto for the tight ends. And even that deep into the third round, there will be quality receivers—getting someone like Michigan’s Roman Wilson or Washington’s Jalen McMillan there would be a win.

But I may have a better scenario for the Giants. They take a receiver, like a Ladd McConkey (no relation to Phil, Giants fans), and then go with one of the other two positions, maybe a Tre Benson or Blake Corum, maybe a Cade Stover or Theo Johnson, at 70. In doing so, then, you’ve invested right back into your young quarterback and in guys he can grow up with.

Malik Nabers dives for a ball as the LSU Tigers take on the Texas A&M Aggies.
Nabers is widely expected to be drafted in the first 10 picks. / SCOTT CLAUSE/USA TODAY Network / USA

From connor (@Cbunzzz): what do you think the likeliest Chargers round 1 outcome is? is there really a world they pass on or trade out of MHJ/Nabers for a tackle?

The logical thing to say here is you take Harrison or Nabers, after the team cut Mike Williams and traded Keenan Allen. But the identity of Jim Harbaugh’s best teams at Stanford, San Francisco and Michigan was built through those teams’ offensive lines. And so I can’t get it out of my head that Joe Alt would be just as logical of a pick for what the new guys in charge in Los Angeles are looking to build.

Or the team could trade down, and doing so with Minnesota would be attractive. You could address both the offensive line and receiver needs by picking 11th and 23rd, though that probably wouldn’t happen until they’re on the clock, since it’d be hard for a team to move up to 5 now, knowing someone else could leapfrog them into the fourth spot.

The Chargers should have good options.

From AMNFL_Andy (@AMNfl_Andy): Gut feeling, do the Cardinals stay at 4 and take Marv or trade down?

Andy, I’d guess Harrison right now. But that’s just based on what I know: that Arizona Cardinals GM Monti Ossenfort isn’t making it easy on teams looking to move up. There’s still time for someone to get desperate, or for the price to come down a bit. For now, let’s give Arizona a wheelhouse Ossenfort pick, with the high-charactered, highly-tooled Harrison.

From dancmc (@dancmc): How much does the proliferation of novice accounts (e.g. accounts that put out fake reports like the one claiming Aiyuk trade request) add to your daily workload?

It honestly sucks. I hate it. I wish I didn’t have to answer questions based on the phony reporting, and Twitter has let it happen by amplifying accounts that simply aggregate bad information, pin it to whoever “reported” it, then act as if they did nothing wrong as the engagement rolls in on something that isn’t remotely true.

Unfortunately, there’s not much I can do to stop this particular brand of stupidity.

From Taylor Hemness (@taylorhemness): What’s a timeline on what to expect on Rashee Rice’s potential league discipline?

I wouldn’t expect anything until the case goes through the criminal system.

Albert Breer