Should Patriots pick Jayden Daniels or Drake Maye? NFL Draft expert weighs in

Patriots

“Jayden Daniels and Drake Maye would not be stacked over each other.”

Drake Maye is projected to be a top-three selection in the 2024 NFL Draft. (AP Photo/John Bzemore)

The Patriots will have plenty of options when they land on the clock during the 2024 NFL Draft.

With the No. 3 overall pick, New England is in prime position to select a coveted quarterback prospect — whether it be reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jayden Daniels or UNC signal caller Drake Maye.

But which QB should Patriots fans hope falls to Foxborough with that third pick?

For most of the last few months, Maye has held court as the projected No. 2 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. But ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. shook up the order in his last mock draft — predicting Daniels as the Commanders’ selection at No. 2, with Maye landing with the Patriots at No. 3.

Speaking on MassLive’s “Eye on Foxborough” Podcast, NFL Media’s draft expert Daniel Jeremiah gave his take on where Daniels, Maye, and USC’s Caleb Williams all line up on the draft leaderboard. 

Even though Jeremiah noted that the consensus across league circles is that Williams will be taken with the first overall selection, he believes there isn’t a whole lot separating Daniels and Maye as premier, blue-chip prospects.

“You’re kind of putting players in clusters,” Jeremiah explained. “We use the phrase, a couple times there’s two players that are going to ‘travel together’ for the process. So they’re right there. This guy or that guy. If you had cards on the wall in the old days — now everything is on the computer — but if you had the magnets and you were putting them up there, Jayden Daniels and Drake Maye would not be stacked over each other.

“Their cards would be next to each other. You’d say OK, these guys are going to travel as we go through everything, in terms of whether they’re in an All-Star game, (NFL) Combine, Pro Days, visits, all that stuff, and then we’ll sort that out as we go along.”

As is the case every winter, mock drafts conducted in January tend to look very different from what actually plays out in late April. Still, Jeremiah doesn’t expect a poised QB like Williams to suddenly drop out of that No. 1 spot and disrupt the entire draft order.

“I have (Williams) a tier above right now, but it’s not to say that those other guys couldn’t catch him as you’re learning more about these guys through the process,” Jeremiah said. “I’ve been told nothing that would scare me off of Caleb, but you’re always open to the fact that the Draft is several months away and there’s information to gather and correct.”

Even though Maye has drawn plenty of praise as a prospect thanks to his arm strength and pro-ready frame, Daniels might boast a higher ceiling as a dual-threat option at the next level.

Last week, Kiper compared Daniels to Lamar Jackson and Randall Cunningham if he reaches his potential in the NFL ranks.

But which one would be the better fit for the Patriots? Jeremiah thinks both can make an impact in 2024 and beyond, but it will all depend on what personnel is around them on the field.

“If you tell me right now that these two guys go into a place where they’re going to be protected and they’re going to have a real solid play-caller and they’re going to have at least a couple playmakers around them, I’d feel very confident in saying that both those guys are going to be successful,” Jeremiah said. “It’s just hard for rookie quarterbacks to be afforded that luxury because normally the teams picking up there at the very top of the draft have a pretty flawed roster.”

As for a possible scenario where New England opts to take arguably the safest pick at No. 3 in Ohio State star receiver Marvin Harrison Jr.? 

“I would go, young quarterback, veteran receiver. I think those veteran receivers really, really benefit and help a young quarterback,” Jeremiah added. “I would feel like, ‘Man, I don’t want to be back here two years from now and we’re in the same exact spot. Maybe I get two years out of Kirk Cousins and that’s great, but then we start all over again.’