ESPN Gives Patriots' Young Core Disappointing Outlook for 2024 Season

The New England Patriots are building slowly, but surely.
Jun 10, 2024; Foxborough, MA, USA;  New England Patriots quarterback Drake Maye (10)  hands the ball to running back Deshaun Fenwick (35) at minicamp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 10, 2024; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Drake Maye (10) hands the ball to running back Deshaun Fenwick (35) at minicamp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports / Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports
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Over the past couple of seasons, the New England Patriots have continued to put together a new regime of young players to help build this new era in Foxboro. Through the most recent two drafts in 2023 and 2024, a fresh wave of guys have entered the mix for this roster, which can effectively give this group a much-needed breath of fresh air.

Despite the refresh in talent, the Patriots still might be playing catch-up to the rest of the league when stacking up against the premier young pieces around the NFL. New England is still smack-dab in the middle of their extensive rebuild, so it may take some time for things to fill out on both sides of the football.

In ESPN's latest NFL young core rankings, the Patriots came in towards the back end of the list, placing 25th out of 32 teams. Aaron Schatz went on to detail a bit of the shining stars of this youth movement heading into 2024, giving some notable credit to both QB Drake Maye and CB Christian Gonzalez:

"The Patriots don't have as much young talent as you would expect from a rebuilding team, but there are some strong young assets here. The top one is Maye, the quarterback of the future and this year's No. 3 overall pick... The other top name to know is a 2023 first-round pick: 22-year-old cornerback Gonzalez. He got to play only four games as a rookie because of a torn labrum but was impressive in that first month. He had one interception, one sack and 17 tackles before his injury."

Aaron Schatz, ESPN

Maye instantly stands out as the primary name to watch as New England shifts into this new era of young players.

The third-overall pick has some lofty expectations to be the long-term answer at the quarterback position, but it may come along with some extensive time on the sidelines learning from Jacoby Brissett and getting some reps on the practice field before getting an opportunity to start.

The 21-year-old signal-caller has been widely recognized as having the ability to make all of the throws necessary to be a top-level quarterback in the NFL, but he needs some fine-tuning to his game and technical skills to cement himself as the QB1 on this roster.

Still, Maye is not the only guy on this team to have the chance at becoming a franchise cornerstone of this Patriots roster for the foreseeable future. Christian Gonzalez showed out one of the best young talents at the cornerback position last season, and one of the bright spots for New England despite only appearing in four games for his rookie campaign.

As long as the recovery from his labrum injury goes smoothly, a breakout year two could be underway for the 22-year-old DB. A lockdown cornerback is a vital part of any strong defense, and it's safe to say the Patriots have their guy to provide that valuable skillset.

Bottom Line

The goal for New England to grow this core moving forward will likely be centric around finding better offensive weapons and protection to surround Maye. While the franchise quarterback is the big ticket to getting this Patriots team back on track, it's far from a one-man job.

Guys like second-year WR Demario Douglas, and rookies Ja'Lynn Polk and Javon Baker can help mend that gap for the coming season, but if none stand out to have the chops of being a premier WR1 talent, New England might have to keep digging for more offensive contributors in 2025.

Patience is key for this Patriots roster that's slowly on the come up to the NFL's elite.


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Jared Koch

JARED KOCH