New England Patriots Rookie Forecast 2024


Solid Starter

Ja’Lynn Polk, WR, Washington – Round 2

Bill Belichick failed tremendously in his wide receiver evaluations in 2019 by taking N’Keal Harry over Deebo Samuel, A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf and Terry McLaurin. Belichick’s evaluations of wideouts were poor in other years as well, like taking Tyquan Thornton over George Pickens, and New England badly needed to upgrade its receiver talent. After taking Drake Maye in the first round, de facto Patriots general manager Eliot Wolf grabbed a receiving weapon for Maye in the second with the selection of Polk.

In the passing-driven NFL, Polk could be a solid contributor No. 2 receiver to a passing attack as a possessional wideout. Polk shows quality route running technique and he is a competitive receiver who fights for the football. Polk tracks the ball well, has late hands, and is adept at making catches over defensive backs. He has good size and can use his build to shield defenders from the football. After the catch, Polk is a good runner and can add yardage while showing some strength to break tackles. He shows some good body control along the sideline to stay in bounds while reeling in passes with close coverage. He is a well-rounded, and competitive wideout that has a nose for the end zone.

Polk is more of a secondary receiver for the NFL as he lacks mismatch speed against NFL corners. To go along with not being very fast, Polk is not a twitchy or explosive athlete so he could have separation issues against pro cornerbacks. The speed and twitch limitations are what make Polk more of a solid No. 2 receiver in the NFL rather than being a featured No. 1. That being said, Polk could do some real damage against zone coverage as a pro.

The 6-foot-1, 203-pound Polk could be a plug-and-play starter for New England. He will have to beat out the likes of K.J. Osborn, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Jalen Reagor, and Kayshon Boutte. If Polk doesn’t win a starting spot immediately, he could during the course of his rookie year or headed into year two. Before long, I think Polk will emerge as a solid starter for the Patriots and be a productive weapon for Maye for many years to come.

2023: Keion White, DE
2022: Cole Strange, G
2021: Mac Jones, QB
2020: Anfernee Jennings, LB
2019: N’Keal Harry, WR
2018: Isaiah Wynn, OL
2017: Derek Rivers, DE
2016: Jon Thuney, G
2015: Tre Jackson, G
2014: Jon Halapio, G
2013: Logan Ryan, CB

Most Likely To Bust

Caeden Wallace, OT, Penn State – Round 3

The Patriots could have a big hole at left tackle in 2024. Chukwuma Okorafor is slated to be the starting left tackle, but Wallace will challenge him for that spot. Wallace was a solid college player but he has some limitations for the NFL. It would not surprise me if he topped out as a swing tackle backup at the pro level. Of the Patriots early-round picks, Wallace seemed like the riskiest for not panning out.

2023: Marte Mapu, LB
2022: Tyquan Thornton, WR
2021: Christian Barmore, DT
2020: Devin Asiasi, TE
2019: Yodney Cajuste, OT
2018: Ja’waun Bentley, LB
2017: Deatrich Wise, DE
2016: Cyrus Jones, CB
2015: Jordan Richards, S
2014: Bryan Stork, C
2013: Duron Harmon, S

Potential Boom Pick

Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina – Round 1

I was a lone wolf on an island with Maye as the top prospect in the 2024 NFL Draft. I had Maye as my favorite quarterback and prospect throughout the draft process because I see a quarterback with a good skill set, throws accurately, and has strong intangibles. I think Maye could end up being a more athletic version of Jared Goff and a very good pro starter.

Maye (6-4, 220) is a pocket passer that can be lethal when he is given time. The most important attribute for any passer is accuracy and Maye has it. He throws the ball with excellent precision and ball placement. With natural loft and timing, Maye fits his passes into tight windows and can beat good coverage by being supremely accurate. Maye leads his receivers for more yards after the catch. Along with throwing receivers open, Maye throws passes with good loft and can give his wideouts a very catchable ball. In terms of arm strength, Maye has it with a strong arm capable of making all the throws in the NFL. He does not have elite arm strength like Josh Allen. Some sources have said that Maye’s arm strength is comparable to Joe Burrow and others have said they think his arm stronger than that. Regardless, Maye’s arm is solid and can get the job done.

Maye shows excellent accuracy over the middle of the field. However, his accuracy to the outside is not as good and that is something he can work to improve. His accuracy also suffers when he throws off platform. Those are things he could improve upon with pro coaching and it will be critical that Maye goes to a team with good quarterback coaching.

Along with being an accurate passer, Maye is very smart with the football. He reads the field well and is advanced in his ability to work through progressions. Maye showed no issues with his field vision. Last year there were times with defenses tried to trick him with switched coverage post-snap but Maye snuffed it out and didn’t fall for the trap. He missed the blitz a few times in games against Virginia and Clemson, so learning and identifying blitzes is something for him to work on as a pro.

The one en-vogue attribute that Maye does not have is serious running ability for the NFL. Maye is not a true running threat with speed and shiftiness in the field. That being said, Maye is not a complete statue in the pocket. He has functional mobility to manipulate the pocket and avoid the pass rush. He can climb, slide, and move around enough to help his line. Maye also will take off and run on occasion and has good decision-making to catch defenses by surprise. In the NFL he won’t be a Lamar Jackson or Josh Allen threat, but Maye will be able to help his offensive line by avoiding some rushers and pick up some first downs with his feet.

Replacing an all-time great at any position is difficult for NFL franchises. Most don’t have the Packers luck at the quarterback position. After living with Cam Newton and Mac Jones to replace Tom Brady, I think the Patriots have found a true replacement in Maye. I believe Maye can be a boom pick for New England and lead them back into the post-season.

2023: Christian Gonzalez, CB
2022: None
2021: None
2020: Kyle Dugger, S
2019: Joejuan Williams, CB
2018: Sony Michel, RB
2017: Antonio Garcia, OT
2016: Malcolm Mitchell, WR
2015: Malcom Brown, DT
2014: Dominique Easley, DE
2013: Jamie Collins, LB

Future Depth Player

Layden Robinson, G, Texas A&M – Round 4

Robinson was a nice value pick for the Patriots in the fourth round. At Texas A&M, Robinson was a real bull in the ground game showing the power to generate movement at the point of attack. In 2022, he had some ugly struggles in pass protection but was improved as a senior. Robinson could be a nice backup guard that helps in short-yardage and goal-line situations. In time, it would not surprise me if he continues to improve and ends up becoming a starting right guard for the Patriots. At the very least, I think he will be a solid backup.

2023: Kayshon Boutte, WR
2022: Marcus Jones, CB
2021: Rhamondre Stevenson, RB
2020: Dalton Keene, TE
2019: Damien Harris, RB
2018: Braxton Berrios, WR
2017: Conor McDermott, OT
2016: Jacoby Brissett, QB
2015: Trey Flowers, DE
2014: Cameron Fleming, OT
2013: Aaron Dobson, WR