‘Unreal’ Draft Prospect Better Value for Patriots Than Drake Maye

Drake Maye

Getty An "unreal" prospect is better value for the New England Patriots than Drake Maye in the 2024 NFL draft.

Quarterback is the biggest need for the New England Patriots headed into the 2024 NFL draft, but an “unreal” wide receiver might provide better value. That’s the view of ESPN’s Matt Miller, who rates Ohio State wideout Marvin Harrison Jr. as the “best value,” while Miller’s colleague Jordan Reid believes North Carolina passer Drake Maye fills the biggest need.

While Miller doesn’t think the Patriots will actually choose a receiver over a QB, he rates “the value is too sweet with Harrison, my No. 2 overall player with a big-time grade of 98 overall. That’s tied for the best in this class with Williams. Harrison has unreal body control, speed and instincts, helping him to 14 touchdowns last season.”

Ironically, Miller’s argument is inadvertently supported by Reid. The latter acknowledged that while Maye is the best pick, “the Patriots lack the offensive personnel necessary for a young QB to succeed right now.”

Using the third-overall pick to select Harrison would help solve that problem. Pairing arguably the most dominant player at his position in this class with DeMario Douglas, a 2023 draft steal, would give the Pats a platform for vital improvements in the passing game.

Foregoing a quarterback for Harrison would also leave trading back in the first round on the table for the Patriots.

Marvin Harrison Jr. Pick Gives Patriots Options

New England’s Director of Scouting Eliot Wolf hasn’t been shy about expressing a willingness to move up or down the board. He told reporters, “We’re open to anything — trading up, trading down. … We’re open in the first round or any round,” per Ben Volin of The Boston Globe.

Trading back in the opening round would keep the Pats in sight of Harrison. He’s usually projected to go anywhere in the fourth to sixth-pick range.

Some of the latest mock drafts reflect this trend. Harrison goes fifth overall to the Los Angeles Chargers in the mock written by NFL.com Draft Analyst Chad Reuter. Meanwhile, Tyler Sullivan of CBS Sports has the Arizona Cardinals taking Harrison one pick sooner.

Trading back, even just a couple of spots, would let the Patriots accrue picks. Wolf could use the extra draft capital to fill holes on a roster still needing help at running back, along the offensive line and in the pass-rush department.

Alternatively, the Pats won’t need to move to pick Harrison. They could justify staying at three to take the dynamic pass-catcher, according to Austin Mock of The Athletic.

He believes veteran signal-caller Jacoby Brissett can keep things steady for a year while the Patriots add talent around football’s most important position: “There are too many needs on this offense for a non-elite QB prospect to succeed, so I’m comfortable with Brissett’s play and adding the top wide receiver to an offense that is severely lacking skill position talent.”

Harrison’s status as perhaps the most complete receiver in this draft would soften the blow of Wolf passing on a quarterback. It would also provide the Patriots with what they lack most offensively, a true field-stretching playmaker.

Harrison showcased his deep threat for this touchdown against Western Kentucky, highlighted by FOX College Football.

In the long run, choosing Harrison may benefit the Patriots more than putting Maye into the same situation that did Mac Jones few favors.

Drake Maye Would Have Tough Time Reviving Patriots

Maye has all the mechanics to be the franchise quarterback the Patriots crave. Those mechanics include the arm strength and touch to accurately throw his receiver open, even though a crowd.

It’s what Maye did for this scoring strike to Devontez Walker against Virginia Tech, highlighted by The CW Sports.

The problem is even a blue-chip passer needs help.

Assistance is in short supply when the Pats lack a legitimate marquee receiver. When the team is also missing a powerful and versatile workhorse in the backfield or a roving coverage mismatch at tight end.

Jones dealt with the same deficiencies, as well as a deteriorating O-line. Not surprisingly, the 15th player drafted in 2021 faltered, and Maye could do the same.

His numbers fell from 4,321 yards and 38 touchdown passes in 2022, down to 3,608 yards and 24 scores last season, per Sports Reference. It was easy to spot the difference.

Maye no longer had Josh Downs to throw to, while Antoine Green had also joined the pros. A threadbare supporting cast impacted a talented QB1.

The Patriots have been here before, so putting Harrison into the mix for a second-round quarterback or a first-round prospect next year, could make more sense.

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