New England Patriots

New England Patriots

New England Patriots

TUCSON, ARIZONA - SEPTEMBER 30: Wide receiver Ja'Lynn Polk #2 of the Washington Huskies runs with the football against the Arizona Wildcats during the second half of the NCAAF game at Arizona Stadium on September 30, 2023 in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

In the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots took the player they hope to be their quarterback of the future in UNC’s Drake Maye. To start Day 2, they picked a player for Maye to throw the ball too.

After trading down to 37th overall, the Patriots selected Washington receiver Ja’Lynn Polk. This is the highest the Patriots have drafted a wideout since N’Keal Harry in 2019.

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Last year, Polk caught 69 passes for 1,159 yards and nine touchdowns. At the NFL Combine, he measured in at 6-foot-1, 203 pounds then ran a 4.52-second 40 with a 37.5-inch vertical.

What kind of player are the Patriots getting in Polk? Here’s what the experts were saying leading up to the draft…

  • Lance Zierlein,

    “Wideout with good size who posted a productive final season to build upon during the draft process. Polk might not have the early acceleration to overtake and stack NFL press corners. He also lacks ideal suddenness getting in and out of his breaks as a route runner. He runs routes with consistent pace — including through his stems and turns — which can create some freedom. However, Polk shines once the ball goes up. He can carve out space near the boundary, catch with strong hands when contested and track and finish when he heads deep. Polk’s speed proved slightly below average at the NFL Scouting Combine, but his other numbers were strong enough for him to receive consideration starting late on Day 2 of the draft.”


  • Dane Brugler, The Athletic

    “A three-year starter at Washington, Polk lined up both inside and outside in former offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb’s spread scheme (58.7 percent wide, 41.1 percent slot). After one season at Texas Tech, his production steadily increased during each of his three seasons with Washington, including a career year in 2023 as the secondary option (behind Odunze) for Michael Penix Jr. With his adjustment skills and hand -eye coordination, Polk doesn’t require perfect ball placement when targeted, regardless of the route or depth. He can comfortably gear up and down, but he needs to fine tune his press and break-point skills. Overall, Polk must continue developing as a route runner, but he is natural athlete addressing the football, with three-level instincts and pro-level toughness. A potential NFL starter, his game is reminiscent of Josh Palmer’s when he was coming out of Tennessee.”


  • Derrik Klassen, Bleacher Report

    “Ja’Lynn Polk is an accuracy-erasing receiver who can play both inside and outside…Polk is a ball-winning No. 2 WR in the NFL. He can dunk on DBs down the field and in the red zone, as well as serve as an underneath bully type on the outside to help move the chains. Polk may not be the star in an NFL offense, but he can be a reliable high-level contributor.”


  • Ian Cummings, Pro Football Network

    “Polk grades out as a top-50 prospect and a fringe first-round talent in the 2024 NFL Draft on my board. Schematically, he’s one of the most diverse receivers in the class, and he also has the catch-point reliability and RAC skills to win his quarterback over quickly. At 6’2″, 204 pounds, Polk passes the desired athleticism threshold with excellent explosiveness, agility, and smooth fluidity in all phases. And while he’s not a burner, he has enough speed to stress vertically and create late-snap separation on tight throws. Polk’s fluidity as an athlete grants him all-encompassing versatility, both as a separator and an offensive weapon. He can be used on motions and on multiple planes, and when working against stems in off-man and zone, he has the angle IQ, deceptive intent, and throttle control to create space for himself.

    Without a doubt, however, Polk’s best trait is his finishing ability at the catch point. Polk’s blend of body control, coordination, timing, and ball-tracking ability culminates in elite catching instincts, and his hands are almost infallible. He snares passes with the ease and authority of a Venus flytrap, and he doesn’t let go. Polk still has room to keep growing as a route runner, particularly against press-man coverage, and he’s not an elite RAC threat without overwhelming speed or mass. Nevertheless, Polk is a supremely well-rounded three-level threat, who can be an impact starter at the movement-Z spot very early in his career — and a go-to option on must-have downs with his hands of steel.”


  • Damian Parson, The Draft Network

    “One of the first things I noticed when studying Ja’Lynn Polk was his competitiveness. He believes every pass belongs to him and plays with that possessive mentality. He is aggressive at the catch point and plays above the rim well. He attacks the ball with full extension and the full use of his frame and limbs. He has converted 51% of his contested catches into receptions. Polk has strong hand-eye coordination that allows him to make these tightly contested catches look routine.

    Polk’s play speed is sufficient and effective at being a reliable deep-threat receiver. His average depth of target hovers around 13-15 yards over the last three seasons. With free releases, he can gear up to top speed and glide past flat-footed defenders down the field. Deep overs, posts, and double moves allow him to attack single coverage down the field. Polk possesses a strong burst after the catch to gain additional yardage. I love how patient and late Polk’s hands are as the football arrives. He doesn’t give the DB many keys to turn and locate the football.

    Polk is not the most nuanced route-runner. He is solid and above average, but there can be struggles versus tight man coverage at the next level. Polk gives slight tells, detailing when he is preparing to gear down or break at the top of his route. There are moments of wasted movements that can be cleaned up or sharpened with coaching. Defeating handsy CBs in the contact window is underwhelming.

    Overall, Polk projects as a starting WR2/3 for an offense with a versatile role. He can align in multiple WR positions and be effective. Polk has some possession receiver vibes to his game. He compares to Robert Woods. If placed in stacked and bunch sets, he will have an easier path to success.”


  • 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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