New England Patriots

New England Patriots

New England Patriots

L-R: LSU QB Jayden Daniels, Ohio State WR Marvin Harrison Jr. (USA Today)

L-R: LSU QB Jayden Daniels, Ohio State WR Marvin Harrison Jr. Who will the Patriots front office target?(USA Today)

With the departure of Bill Belichick, the leadup to the NFL Draft for the New England Patriots this year represents a whole new era. In the past, there were two decades of trends from Belichick’s front office to serve as a guide when analyzing the draft from a Patriots lens. Now, that process starts over.

Forget the trends themselves for a second – we still don’t really know who it will be creating the blueprint for the new era. From ownership on down the team has stressed a collaborative approach. There’s nothing wrong with that, but somebody will ultimately have to have ‘final say‘ when it’s time to make a decision.


2024 NFL Draft quarterback big board
Initial reactions and immediate questions following the Patriots’ hire of Alex Van Pelt
Patriots pre-draft meetings from the Senior Bowl

We finally got a brief glimpse into the new process on Friday, when Evan Lazar of posted interviews with both director of player personnel Matt Groh and college scouting director Camren Williams. Based on Groh’s comments, it sounds like the overall process may not change much, outside of who has final say.

“This is what we’ve always done here is get together as a group and talk things out,” Groh said of the ‘collaborative approach’ the front office staff is using. “So, not a whole lot has changed on our end. I’m looking forward to having the staff be a part of the evaluation process as we go through free agency and the draft.”

“It’s more just identifying good players and finding players in the right buckets and values within their skill sets and how they fit for our team,” Williams added, sharing more about how that process works. “We’ll have a coach that comes to us and says, hey, I want this and this position. These are the skills that I’m looking for. Then we can identify a list of players that we think fit that.”

Just because the process isn’t changing much doesn’t mean the approach, and ultimately the results, won’t be better. A lot of that will come down to how they view this class specifically.

While they didn’t give away the board (nor should they have), both Groh and Williams touched on some key topics about the 2024 draft process, and draft philosophy as a whole. Here’s the three quotes that stood out the most from the interviews.

  • On the strengths of the draft

    The quote from Camren Williams: There’s a couple of good positions in this draft. Quarterbacks are pretty deep, tackle is deep, so there’s probably different avenues to make our team better based on what’s available in the draft.”

    This can be interoperated one of two ways. It’s kind of a ‘glass half full, glass half empty’ situation.

    It’s not breaking news that this is a strong draft for both quarterbacks and tackles, two positions of need for the Patriots. The fact they seem to be focused on those two spots is an encouraging sign.

    However, a third need and another position generally viewed as strong in this class – wide receiver – is absent here. Is that because the Patriots don’t believe in this wide receiver class as much as the consensus? Or is the key word to focus on here ‘deep,’ with the Patriots believing they can prioritize wide receiver at the top of the draft (ex. Marvin Harrison Jr. of Ohio State) and will still have chances to add contributors at the quarterback or tackle positions later on?

  • On the quarterbacks

    The quote from Matt Groh: “It’s a good group. You’ve got guys who have played five years of college football and more for some of these guys. There’s a lot of experience and success with these players, individual and team. As an organization, there’s nothing more important than team success. A lot of these guys have really done a great job in leading their team, and now we get to drill down and see who they are as people as well.”

    The big takeaway from this quote is the traits/background the Patriots are valuing at the quarterback position – experience, production, and team success. Interestingly enough their last top quarterback pick Mac Jones only checked two of these boxes – he had solid production and won a National Championship, but did so in his lone full year as a starter.

    Of this year’s class, two of the top quarterbacks check these boxes – LSU QB Jayden Daniels and Washington QB Michael Penix.

    Daniels was a five-year starter between Arizona State and LSU, and finished with at least eight wins in four of those five seasons (he went 2-2 in the Pandemic-shortened 2020 season). In his last two years at LSU his production skyrocketed, and he finished the 2023 season with just under 5,000 total yards and 50 total touchdowns, on his way to winning the Heisman Trophy and being named a consensus All-American.

    Penix was a five-year starter (although three of those seasons were cut short due to injury) between Indiana and Washington, and was an all-conference player three times leading up to his Maxwell-winning and All-American season in 2023, when he threw for almost 5,000 yards and 36 touchdowns while leading the Huskies to the National Championship game.

    Does that mean the Patriots are a lock to draft Daniels or Penix? No. But it does tell us the two are likely in consideration in some way, shape, or form, fitting the description Groh lays out.

    There are also quarterbacks that check two of the three boxes. For instance USC QB Caleb Williams has the individual production and experience but lacks the overall team success (although that’s not necessarily his fault).

  • On adding playmakers

    The quote from Matt Groh: “You need to have explosive players. You look at the teams that are playing deep into the playoffs and they have explosive players, whether that’s on the perimeter, or the backfield, or the tight end position. The quickest way to score points is through explosive plays. You get that by having explosive players and somebody who can get those guys the ball.”

    This is very similar to a quote Groh gave around this time last year. That obviously never led to anything, as the Patriots didn’t make any premium additions at their skill positions last offseason. Will this year be different? The Patriots will certainly have their chance to add explosive playmakers this offseason both in free agency and the draft.

    What’s interesting about Groh framing it in terms of ‘teams that are playing deep into the playoffs’ is that, while he is right they all have explosive playmakers, most of those players were not first-round picks. The Chiefs’ top offensive weapon is Travis Kelce, a third-round pick. The 49ers triple-headed attack of Deebo SamuelGeorge Kittle, and Christian McCaffrey were acquired with a second round pick, fifth round pick, and via trade, respectively.

    As for the other Championship round teams, the Ravens did have an impact first-round rookie in Zay Flowers but paired him with third-round pick tight end Mark Andrews. The Lions had a similar setup, with first-round rookie Jahmyr Gibbs boosting an offense centered around fourth-round pick Amon-Ra St. Brown.

    Again, this doesn’t mean the Patriots will definitely try to build out their skill positions in middle rounds. But that kind of talent isn’t exclusive to the first round, and specifically when it comes to the draft it can be as much about identifying the right players as it is simply picking high enough to land a college football superstar.

  • Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at [email protected].

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