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Patriots News 3-24, Standing Pat with #3, Mock Draft 2.0

Steve Balestrieri
Steve Balestrieri on Twitter
March 24, 2024 at 6:00 am ET

Patriots News 3-24, Standing Pat with #3, Mock Draft 2.0(PHOTO: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports)

🕑 Read Time: 8 minutes

Good morning. Here is your Patriots news and notes for Sunday, March 24. It has been a quiet week on the free agent front for the Patriots, with just one FA signing: Safety Jaylinn Hawkins. It doesn’t mean that they haven’t been trying, only that nothing has come to fruition… yet. We’ll see what the upcoming days hold. 

Our own Ian Logue had a nice interview with Rob Williams, QB Nathan Rourke’s throwing coach, a few days ago. Williams is a kinesiologist who owns Sports Core Performance in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and has worked with athletes for over 20 years.  He also works with Tennessee’s Will Levis.

Rourke had a ridiculous play last preseason for the Jags. Watch it here:

Rourke has been working with Williams for a few years and has vastly improved his throwing mechanics, improving his zip on the ball, especially on the move. See it here:

It will be interesting to see if Rourke can carve out a role on the roster. 

Several Patriots front-office staffers, led by Eliot Wolf, OC Alex Van Pelt, and QB coach T.C. McCartney, were on hand at USC’s Pro Day. On Friday, HC Jerod Mayo joined the group at Michigan’s Pro Day, giving a close-up view of QB JJ McCarthy and other Michigan prospects. 

The Wolverines have 22 players eligible for the draft, with 18 of those having been invited to the NFL Combine, which is a new record. LSU had 16 players at the NFL Combine in 2020.

Quick Hitters For the Patriots and NFL News: 

Jaylinn Hawkins: The Patriots added the former Falcons and Chargers safety this week. Hawkins, 26, played both free safety and box safety in his career but is best suited to play the deep safety role. 

After Devin McCourty retired, Kyle Dugger and Jalen Mills mainly replaced him in 2023. But the team opted to bring Hawkins in with Mills gone in FA and Dugger and Jabrill Peppers better suited to the strong safety role.

I’m not convinced they’ve found their deep safety with Hawkins, who also provides STs experience. 

KJ Osborn: The Patriots signed the former Vikings WR last weekend, and he provides them with another solid option in the Z-slot position.  

In the past three seasons with the Vikings, Osborn, 26, has caught 158 passes for 1845 yards and 15 touchdowns. 

“I try to carry myself first class. I’m a man of faith and I try to make everybody better around me, whether that’s on the field or off the field,” Osborn said. “So just being myself, man, whether that’s my role or not, I guess that’s what the Patriots are going to get; that’s who I am.

“Always just trying to elevate everyone else around me. I want the best out of myself. So, I expect my teammates to push me in that way, and I’ll push them in that way, and then we all come together and that’s how you win games and you build a good locker room.”

Patriots 4th & 2 Podcast: Last week, we discussed the latest news from Foxboro in our podcast.

Derek Havens and I discussed the early days of Free Agency, the upcoming draft and prospects at the QB, RB, and TE positions, and The Dynasty series. Please check it out.  This week, we’ll start reviewing some of the draft’s prospects at WR and OT.  

Russ Francis/Chuck Fairbanks: The former Patriot tight end and head coach should be in the Patriots team Hall of Fame, and the fact that Francis isn’t in is an absolute travesty. Francis and the Raiders’ Dave Casper changed the game with how teams used the tight end position. This will be discussed in our Sunday posts until it happens. Casper is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Francis’ numbers stand up well against Casper’s, yet he isn’t even in the team’s HOF. 

Jacoby Brissett


Area 51 News: Free Agency Can Still Answer Questions—

Team Needs: 

After resigning their core internal free agents, the Patriots’ biggest needs—quarterback, wide receiver, and LT—have still not been addressed. Although I like the signings of Brissett, Okorafor, and Osborn, they are not the impact moves the team needs for the 2024 season. 

They need a quarterback, a wide receiver, and an LT. With many premier players gone, it may be time to overpay one or two of the guys left (WR/OT) on a one-year deal. And asking to fill all three positions via the draft puts too much pressure on the board, falling correctly to your needs. They have to fill at least one via free agency. 

Brissett is a very good bridge quarterback and has been tasked with putting out fires everywhere he’s gone. He’ll also be an excellent mentor to whoever they end up drafting at quarterback. But he’s not the long-term answer and would be an excellent backup. A QB with the #3 pick is the right way to address this.

I like Okorafor; he has a wealth of starting experience and has been a good tackle. But he’s mostly been on the right side. I see him as a great depth addition or possibly a swing tackle. Could he or Calvin Anderson play left tackle? It is a possibility for sure. But with Anderson’s health issues of last season, at this point, it isn’t something you’d want to risk this season. 

Here’s where the team could pay for an aging vet like David Bakhtiari to come in on a one-year deal and give the team what he has left in the tank. He’s also had injury concerns but is still a good left tackle when he is healthy. He would probably ask for more than they’d want to pay, but it is probably worth it for a one-year deal.

If a proven WR falls into their lap in free agency via trade (Higgins, Aiyuk), then it should be looked at, but with such a deep draft class, having a young stud on a rookie contract for four years is easily doable. 

According to our local salary cap guru and good friend Miguel Benzan, aka @Patscap, the Patriots’ salary cap is currently at $49,938,475.

(PHOTO: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports)

Mock Draft 2.0 (No-Trade) Version:

Last week, I made a mock draft that took into consideration the possible trade for Minnesota’s #11 and #23 picks, plus a 2025 1st round for the Patriots’ #3 pick. This week, the Patriots stay put at #3.  

After trading Justin Fields, Chicago will draft QB Caleb Williams with the #1 pick. In this scenario, Washington used the #2 pick on Drake Maye, who I have wanted for New England since the fall. Bummer. 

Even with this in mind, I don’t trade out of the #3 spot. So, with that in mind…

Here is my Mock Draft 2.0. This time, they stand pat and stick to their draft position.

Jayden Daniels: Despite many recent reports that Washington is leaning much more towards Daniels with the #2 pick, they take Drake Maye in this case. So, what are the Patriots getting in him? 

Daniels is a nightmare for defenses to stop when he’s running the ball, but his strides as a passer have been astounding. He’s improved every year, and last year, Daniels won the Heisman, throwing for more than 3,800 yards, averaging 11.7 yards per throw, with 40 TDs and only 4 INTs. He ran for 1134 yards and a further 10 TDs.

He’s on a trajectory that could make him a superstar quarterback in the NFL. The only knock on him is his slender frame, which leads many to question whether he can continue to run like he did in the SEC. 

Xavier Legette: Get used to seeing this guy’s name linked with the Patriots. The team needs an “X” receiver, a difference-maker… right? Meet Legette, a 6’2, 227 possession WR who explodes after the catch and leaves defenders in his wake. 

Unlike many of the bigger receivers of his ilk, Legette is fluid and explosive coming out of his breaks in his route tree. In his final season at South Carolina, he caught 71 passes for 1,255 yards, 17.7 yards per reception, and 7 TDs.

If he (a big if) is still around at the end of Round 1 or early in Round 2, watch the Patriots pounce on him. His size, speed, and emerging talent will be tailor-made for the offense.

Matt Goncalves: The enormous tackle from Pitt tips the scales at 6’6, 330 pounds, and as you can imagine, for someone so large, he is a powerful road grader in the running game. 

He plays with a low pad level for a man his size. He does struggle somewhat with lateral movement, an issue that would have to be worked on, but he has experience with both tackle spots, which is the versatility that coaches love.

Ben Sinnott: In Round 4, the Patriots find a tight end of the future. Sinnott doesn’t have elite speed or athleticism, but he doesn’t have a hole in his game, either.  Simply put, he does everything well. 

He’s just 21 and at 6’4, 245, and plays with an aggressive nature either as a receiver or blocker with a non-stop motor. He is a good route-runner with good hands who can find soft spots in zone coverage. Last season, he caught 49 passes for 676 yards, 13.8 yards per reception, and 6 TDs.

Christian Jones: Jones is another tackle who played both left and right tackle at Texas. However, after he started every game at LT in 2021, he stayed put at RT in 2022 and 2023 and earned All Big-12 honorable mentions in both seasons.

Jones is a big guy at 6’5, 318, and is a smart, powerful player with long arms who shows good quickness to get out and pull as a run blocker but is still raw as a pass blocker. He’ll need time to hone his skills.

Jase McClellan: Another solid running back from Alabama, McClellan wasn’t a starter but was a good member of the Crimson Tide’s RB by committee. He lacks breakaway speed but has very good patience and vision.

He’ll find and hit the gaps on time to maximize his runs. He was a very good early-down runner who could grind out the tough yardage. He’s an outstanding pass protector. He’s not the biggest guy at 5’11, 212, but he was just as effective as running between the tackles as he was breaking outside. 

Storm Duck: How can you not love this guy’s name? Duck has good size for a cornerback at 6’0, 201, with good speed, running a 4:38 in the 40-yard dash. He has a good blend of length, speed, and ball skills and can play press cover or zone.

His issue was that he made too many mental mistakes. Although an aggressive and physical tackler, he had too many plays where he slipped off tackles. He also frequently gave too big a cushion when playing off-man.  

Eric Watts: A UConn DL/Edge player, Watts could compete for a roster spot.  He has experience and played in 46 games for the Huskies. He tips the scales at 6’6, 274, and runs the 40 in 4.76.

He has an explosive burst off the line, but is raw and needs to develop countermoves. He doesn’t have the bend to be truly effective on the edge but a move inside as a subpackage interior pass rusher may be a way for him to carve out a niche on the team. 


“I’ve been at ESPN for 15 years evaluating quarterbacks as they come out for the draft.

“I think he’s as good a prospect as I have evaluated in this entire time. So, you know, from the Matthew Staffords to the Matt Ryans, to you name ’em over that stretch—Andrew Luck … I think that he’s that good of a prospect.

“I think when people go through the process with Drake Maye,” he later continued. “There is almost nothing to not like about him. Now he’s a really big guy, so if you’ve got really picky could you say, ‘Hey I’d like his delivery to be a little more compact,’? Yeah, absolutely you could say that… I think that when I look at him I think he’s going to be a better pro than college player, I think athletically, physically, mentally– like athletically he’s going to be on par with the best.”

“And then I think mentally you’re going to be able to put so much on him to be able to control the game the way that great quarterbacks are able to control the game. Like I think he can digest that. So those are the reasons why I think he’s the best prospect in this group and as good as anybody I’ve seen over the last 15 years.”

Former QB and current ESPN draft analyst Tim Hasselback on how he sees Drake Maye’s pro career turning out.


“Talent sets the floor; Character sets the ceiling.” Bill Belichick

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on Apple and YouTube as Russ Goldman, Derek Havens, and myself from discuss the latest Patriots news and game analysis.


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TRANSCRIPT: Patriots Head Coach Jerod Mayo Coach’s Breakfast 3/25

About Steve Balestrieri

A former US Army Special Forces NCO and Officer, Steve has been following the Patriots since their days at Fenway Park. Steve has worked in the film industry and wrote as an Military Editor at, as a reporter for the Millbury Daily Voice, Millbury-Sutton Chronicle, and the Grafton News. He's also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: Alex Van Pelt Ben Sinnott Christian Jones Devin McCourty Dont'a Hightower Drake Maye Eric Watts James White Jase McClellan Jayden Daniels Jerod Mayo Matt Goncalves New England Patriots Storm Duck Xavier Legette

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