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Patriots 2024 NFL Draft grades for every pick

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The 2024 NFL Draft has come and gone with the New England Patriots adding eight players over the three-day event.

While it wasn’t entirely unexpected, the Patriots used almost all of their selections on adding offensive players. Seven of their eight selections were offensive players, with the lone defensive selection not coming until the sixth round.

That was the right move by Eliot Wolf and Co., making it a nice reprieve from what his predecessor did over the last few years.

But let’s take a closer look at each selection the Patriots made in the 2024 NFL Draft, giving each pick a grade.

First round, No. 3 overall pick: UNC QB Drake Maye
This was a home run pick. New England not only gets its quarterback of the future, but it also got one who might be one of the best prospects at the position in recent memory.

Maye is everything you want out of a quarterback in this day and age. He has a strong arm. He’s willing to play from the pocket and take hits. He’s mobile with his legs, both as a passer and as a downfield runner. He’s big, too.

There have been debates on whether Maye is more like Justin Herbert or Josh Allen due to his frame and similar play style. If he resembles either player, the Patriots and Jerod Mayo have a quarterback they can build around for a long, long time.

Grade: A

Second round, No. 37 overall pick: Washington WR Ja’Lynn Polk
The Patriots were smart to move down from the 34th pick after a pair of their reported preferred targets, Xavier Leggete and Keon Coleman, came off the board. They swapped second-round picks with the Los Angeles Chargers, improving their fifth-round pick to an early fourth-round pick as a result.

As for the pick itself, Polk’s game seems to be more of a No. 2 receiver type. However, other than Adonai Mitchell, there really weren’t any true No. 1 types on the board when the Patriots came up with the 34th pick.

Polk obviously played second fiddle to Rome Odunze this past year, but he still had 69 receptions for 1,159 yards and nine touchdowns last season. The upside with Polk’s game is that you can line him up on the inside and outside, with his ability to make tough grabs down the field a good pairing with Maye’s downfield throwing.

Grade: B

Third round, No. 68 overall pick: Penn State OT Caedan Wallace
The Patriots needed an offensive tackle and they were smart to draft one in the third round, especially after a run on offensive tackles took place late in the second round.

But they should’ve been more proactive in trying to get a better offensive tackle prospect, at least one who has experience at left tackle. Wallace was exclusively a right tackle in college, with Wolf telling reporters Friday that they believe he can play left tackle due to his size and athleticism. In fairness to Wallace, having Olu Fashanu occupy the spot meant it would’ve been tough for anyone to play left tackle at Penn State.

However, the Patriots should’ve aimed to get someone with experience at left tackle. BYU’s Kingsley Suamataia would’ve been an ideal target, using this upcoming season as a development year. But the Kansas City Chiefs were able to trade up and snag him. Kansas’ Dominick Puni also would’ve made more sense as he had a strong season at left tackle for the Jayhawks in 2023.

Still, Wolf’s idea here is reasonable. You would just like to see a little less projection.

Grade: C

Fourth round, No. 103 overall pick: Texas A&M G Layden Robinson
Guard was viewed as a major position of need for the Patriots entering the draft. In fact, it might’ve been overlooked due to the investments they’ve in the draft over the previous two years with Cole Strange, Sidy Sow and Atonio Mafi.

But the offensive line was a wreck for a strong portion of last season. Their situation at guard wasn’t as dire as it was at both offensive tackle spots, but Strange struggled with injuries and inconsistent play throughout the year. Sow was solid at right guard by the end of the season, but there isn’t much reliable depth behind him.

Anyway, Robinson was solid for most of his time at College Station. Most of his counting reports suggest that he’s a better run blocker than he is a pass blocker, but he gave up just one sack and 10 pressures last season.

The only complaint is that this isn’t necessarily the most pressing need the team has at the moment. There were plenty of other options the Patriots should’ve gone with this pick, either selecting one of the many running backs that came off the board in the fourth round or snagging Iowa State’s T.J. Tampa as their cornerback room has some questions entering the year.

Grade: B-

Fourth round, No. 110 overall pick: UCF WR Javon Baker
After Maye, this might have been the Patriots’ best pick in the draft.

Baker has big-play potential that the Patriots haven’t had at receiver in years. He had 52 receptions for 1,139 yards and seven touchdowns at UCF last season, with his 21.9 yards per reception leading the nation (minimum 30 receptions). The pick also speaks further to Wolf knowing his personnel as Baker is the sort of boundary receiver who should mesh well with Maye’s arm.

Baker’s personality is also desirable for a receiver, already telling fans to have their popcorn ready as he makes people in wheelchairs stand up. That’s the sort of edge the Patriots have lacked on offense for quite some time.

Grade: A

Sixth round, No. 180 overall pick: South Carolina CB Marcellas Dial
Dial is a nice project player to take late in the draft. His ball skills were praised after his selection on Saturday as he had three interceptions in 2022 and 10 pass breakups in 2023. There are some concerns about his ability to cover in open space, but Dial seems like an ideal zone corner with decent size at 5-foot-11.

Grade: A-

 

Sixth round, No. 193 overall pick: Tennessee QB Joe Milton

Even though it’s a sixth-round pick, this was the worst selection the Patriots made in this year’s daft.

Milton has a strong arm, we all know that. It’s incredibly fun to watch him use his arm strength in all of the clips of him at practice or wearing a t-shirt and shorts at pre-draft events.

But the common criticism of Milton was that he didn’t really know how to manage a game well. His passes often have one speed as he likes to hunt for big plays.

Drafting a second quarterback made sense for the Patriots. They should’ve gone for more of a game manager type though when you consider the rest of their quarterbacks room.

Grade: D

Seventh round, No. 231 overall pick: Florida State TE Jaheim Bell

The Patriots finally added some tight end depth with their final pick, though Bell might’ve been a seventh-round steal.

Bell was used all over the field during his time at South Carolina and Florida State, lining up as an H-back, in-line tight end, slot receiver and outside receiver over the last few years. His athleticism was one of the best at the position in this year’s class as he had 39 receptions for 503 yards and two touchdowns, making him an intriguing depth option.

Grade: A

Overall grade: B+

The Patriots did what they needed to do in the 2024 NFL Draft, addressing their three biggest needs with their first three picks. Not only did they do that, but they also double-dipped at quarterback, receiver and the offensive line.

The biggest thing is that they got a quarterback with tremendous upside as they hope to never pick in the top five again for decades. Beyond that, they didn’t really hit any home runs. But there weren’t many home run opportunities for them, smartly hitting for singles and doubles through the draft.

 

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