Patriots Predicted to Acquire Award-Winning Quarterback

Jerod Mayo

Getty Jerod Mayo could bring Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jayden Daniels in the draft.

Facing a total rebuild the New England Patriots could take two future cornerstones on offense in the NFL Draft, starting at quarterback.

Both ESPN draft analyst Matt Miller and The Athletic’s Chad Graff project the Patriots to take Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jayden Daniels from LSU with the third pick in the draft. Miller also projects the Patriots to pick up Houston offensive tackle Patrick Paul with the No. 34 pick.

“It’s a new regime in New England, and much like [Dan] Quinn in Washington, coach Jerod Mayo will have the opportunity to bring in a franchise quarterback to build around,” Miller wrote. “Neither Mac Jones nor Bailey Zappe is the answer. As a former NFL linebacker and defensive coordinator, Mayo knows all too well what a dual-threat QB like Daniels brings to the field.”

“The reigning Heisman Trophy winner, Daniels has elite open-field speed and vision as a runner, and he’s the best deep-ball passer in the draft class,” Miller continued. “He threw 40 touchdown passes in 2023, and an FBS-leading 22 of them were on throws of more than 20 air yards.”

“Daniels was the most improved player in college football after dedicating himself to playing better within the pocket, and his draft stock has soared from Day 3 to here,” Miller concluded.

Improvement defines Daniels’ collegiate career, which goes back to 2019 at Arizona State. He never threw for more than 2,950 yards and 17 touchdowns in any season before 2023.

His running ability also took off in 2023. Daniels rushed for a career high 1,134 yards on 8.4 yards per attempt — both well above his previous seasons with LSU and ASU.

“The former four-star prospect went through some middling times early in his collegiate career,” Graff wrote. “There’s no questioning, though, his performance in 2023 en route to the Heisman Trophy.”

Jayden Daniels Has 1 Knock

Amid Daniels’ prowess, Graff acknowledged one concern about the 6-foot-4, 210-pound LSU star.

The biggest knock on him, according to one scout at the Senior Bowl,” Graff wrote. “Executives are hoping he’ll put on some weight before the combine to alleviate some concerns about the hits he’ll take in the NFL.”

That’s a legitimate concern — just ask the Indianapolis Colts, which lost rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson to a season-ending injury last season. Starting quarterbacks of all experience levels went down in 2023, which only adds to the durability concern.

Daniels played in 55 college games in five seasons, and his 4-game 2020 season had nothing to do with injury. The Pac-12 Conference didn’t play football until November that year due to COVID-19.

Patrick Paul a Great Fit for Patriots

Both Miller and Graff see Paul as a big answer for a huge need on the Patriots offensive line.

“With needs all over the roster, the Patriots have to take swings at solving premium positions,” Miller wrote. “Offensive linemen Trent Brown and Mike Onwenu are both free agents.”

That makes it more urgent than addressing wide receiver, which Graff noted as a major need, too.

“But it’s probably going to be easier to address wide receiver in free agency than it will be to fix their holes at offensive tackle,” Graff wrote.  “Paul’s technique, according to one scout, has some issues. He has a lot to clean up. But Paul is 6-foot-7 with long arms and has a chance to develop into a stud. He’s a high-ceiling prospect.”

Availability is the question as Miller noted because “a strong week of practice at the Senior Bowl might have moved Paul into Round 1” before the Patriots could grab him at pick 34.

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