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2024 NFL Mock Draft season has begun: Drake Maye, Caleb Williams projected to Patriots

Bill O'Brien goes to bat for Bill Belichick
Bill O'Brien goes to bat for Bill Belichick 01:03

BOSTON -- It's not even December yet, but for a number of NFL franchises, all eyes are already on next year. That's very much the case in New England.

At 2-9, the Patriots are in comfortable position to land a top-three pick in the draft, with a chance to finish in the top two and a remote shot of getting the No. 1 overall pick. We don't know with confidence who will be making that pick for the team, as there remains some healthy skepticism that Bill Belichick will remain with the Patriots after this season.

Nevertheless, the mock drafters have begun mock drafting. And with Mac Jones' regression reaching new levels each week, it's no surprise to see quarterbacks projected to New England.

Dane Brugler, The Athletic

Drake Maye
Drake Maye Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images

The Pick: UNC QB Drake Maye

"With their quarterback situation in shambles, the Patriots have a bottom-five offense," Brugler wrote. "In his 24 years as head coach in New England, Bill Belichick has never drafted in the top five, but this season is certainly trending in that direction. That's the bad news. The good news? This is a great draft for a quarterback-needy team to own an early pick. Maye is a young player and not without his faults, but he has promising talent and more big-time throws on his tape than any other passer in this class."

Brugler had USC quarterback Caleb Williams going No. 1 overall to the Bears (who own Carolina's first-round pick) and Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. going No. 2 to the Cardinals.

Chris Trapasso, CBS Sports

Caleb Williams
Caleb Williams Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The Pick: USC QB Caleb Williams

"The Patriots are ecstatic to be able to land Williams here," Trapasso wrote. "He has franchise-quarterback talent."

Interestingly, Trapasso had the Bears going with UCLA EDGE Laiatu Latu with the No. 1 overall pick, followed by Harrison at No. 2 to the Cardinals. He had Maye going fourth overall to Atlanta.  

Connor Livesay, The 33rd Team

Drake Maye
Drake Maye Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Pick: UNC QB Drake Maye

"If you were unsure if Mac Jones' time with the New England Patriots was already over, Sunday's loss to the New York Giants all but confirmed it," Livesay wrote. "The QB1 battle is unresolved and likely won't be any time soon. With either Williams or Drake Maye, the Patriots' offense finally will get an athletic quarterback who can operate off-script when needed."

Livesay had Williams going at No. 1 overall to the Bears, with Harrison going second to the Cardinals.

A.J. Schulte, Pro Football Network

Caleb Williams
Caleb Williams Tom Hauck / Getty Images

The Pick: USC QB Caleb Williams

"While rumors swirl regarding Bill Belichick's future with the Patriots, Mac Jones' status as QB1 has met its end rather swiftly," Schulte wrote. "he Patriots need playmakers everywhere without a doubt, but the quarterback play has been dragging the team down regardless. This selection could change depending on who the head coach is, but the bottom line is that they need a quarterback of Caleb Williams' caliber to make plays on his own and bring up the rest of the roster."

Schulte had Harrison going No. 1 overall to the Bears and Penn State offensive tackle Olu Fashanu going second to the Cardinals, with Maye going fourth to the Saints (via mock draft trade).

Luke Easterling, Sports Illustrated

Drake Maye
Drake Maye Grant Halverson / Getty Images

The Pick: UNC QB Drake Maye

"There might not be a more desperate need in the entire NFL than what the Pats have at quarterback," Easterling wrote. "The only silver lining to what has become a dismal season for Bill Belichick and company would be the opportunity to land a franchise passer like Maye, who may not have put up the numbers many expected this season, but still has the talent to be a star at the next level."

Like several others, Easterling has Williams going to the Bears at No. 1 and Harrison going No. 2 to the Cardinals.

Other first-round QBs on the board:

Jayden Daniels, LSU
J.J. McCarthy, Michigan
Bo Nix, Oregon
Michael Penix, Jr., Washington

Mock drafting, like the actual draft itself, is an inexact science. And with plenty of games left that scramble up the draft order, it's impossible to predict where and how everything will be sorted out in the coming six weeks. So if the Patriots go on an unlikely winning streak, these other four quarterbacks all appeared in various spots in the mock drafts.

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