PFF Declares 'Rookie to Watch' for Patriots & It's Not Drake Maye

The New England Patriots' rookie class has some under-the-radar names to look out for.
Jun 10, 2024; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots offensive tackle Caedan Wallace (70) walks to the practice fields for minicamp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 10, 2024; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots offensive tackle Caedan Wallace (70) walks to the practice fields for minicamp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports / Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports
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A large chunk of the commotion surrounding the New England Patriots rookie class this season will be revolving around third-overall pick Drake Maye, but don't forget about the other pickups this squad managed to make during this past draft.

The many selections New England made during the 2024 NFL Draft allowed this roster to see a bit of an offensive refresh. By adding two new quarterbacks, a few fresh pass catchers, and two tackles into the mix, the Patriots are finally trending up on that side of the ball after an abysmal showcase during the year prior.

However, when looking at the Patriots' group of first-year players, one of the most compelling names to watch might be third-round tackle Caedan Wallace. Pro Football Focus revealed the 24-year-old as New England's rookie to watch across this coming season over other candidates like Maye and Ja'Lynn Polk.

With Trent Brown now in Cincinnati, the Patriots have a massive hole at left tackle that went largely untouched this offseason... As such, someone will need to switch sides. Given the track record of the other three tackles, Wallace should have every opportunity to be that guy...There may be some early growing pains, but Wallace has the potential to develop into a quality starting left tackle in New England.

Pro Football Focus

New England made some significant steps forward on offense, but this is far from a perfect unit. In fact, the offensive line likely stands out as the biggest question mark going into the new year, as the left tackle and left guard positions will look widely unpredictable begin the season.

The situation puts Wallace in a premier spot to make an early impact and enters as a formidable option to start on the left. It's a transition that could be a challenging jump to make in year one, considering he's stuck on the right side during his collegiate career, but his solid performance in his existing role at Penn State provides some optimism for the expected switch.

Of course, a ton of focus will lean upon how Drake Maye fares in his rookie season, but without the proper protection in place, his campaign may not pan out like fans would hope. The Patriots must establish at least a serviceable answer at left tackle to get the best ability from their top-rated quarterback prospect.

The offensive line will remain a key factor of this team's success in 2024. If Wallace can create an impact up front as a rookie, New England could be on track to surprise next season.


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Jared Koch

JARED KOCH