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Patriots Football Sunday: Foxboro Faithful; NFL Draft Plans



New England Patriots quarterback hangs his head during Sunday's loss to the New Orleans Saints

The New England Patriots still have a lot of work to do to get ready between now and the first mandatory minicamp on June 11. The NFL Draft takes place later this month. There is still additional work to do in free agency, including getting Kyle Dugger’s situation finalized. Trade possibilities still exist that need to be explored. And there could be a general manager named in New England. A look around the happenings in Patriots Nation.

Was Jack Jones Right?

Yesterday, I reported about former Patriots cornerback Jack Jones trolling New England Patriots fans. He stated Patriots fans were terrible and the reason Mac Jones is happier in Jacksonville. For many reasons, Jack Jones is not the most credible person to deliver such a message. His behavior both in and away from the building was problematic enough in 2023 that New England waived a fourth-round pick in his second season who had performed well as a rookie. But was Jack Jones wrong?

New England Patriots fans are not terrible. They are passionate and a bit spoiled (younger fans in particular), but for the most part, are not bad. Every franchise has some fans that don’t make the majority proud and the Patriots fanbase is no exception. The Foxboro faithful were certainly supportive of Jack Jones as a rookie. He disappointed them with his offseason legal issues last year. His performance during the season, both in terms of play and attitude, did not erase that negative impression.

But Jack Jones’ comments were about the treatment of Mac Jones. In that regard, he may have a point. Mac Jones had an excellent 2021 season by rookie standards. In the first month of his second season, many Patriots fans already turned on him. Fans chanted for Bailey Zappe to replace him at every turn. While Mac Jones dealt with injuries, a new coaching staff, and a lack of weapons on offense, he also battled the perceptions of Patriots fans.

Patriots fans, however, are not to blame for Mac Jones’ poor performance. He got progressively worse each season in New England. The coaching staff lost faith in him and it appeared the QB lost faith in himself. Fans could have embraced Mac Jones more and given him a longer leash to develop, sure. But Mac Jones could have also silenced his doubters with his play. He failed to do so.

Jack Jones stated, “Fans build a beast or make a crumb.” But ultimately, the people most responsible for the success of players are the athletes themselves.

Wide Receiver or Offensive Tackle at No. 34?

The New England Patriots selecting a quarterback at No. 3 in the NFL Draft appears a given at this point, barring a trade down. That leaves New England needing to address both offensive tackle and wide receiver with their next two picks. The options for the No. 34 pick have been analyzed here. If they add a wide receiver, which offensive tackles will still be available at No. 68 in Round 3?

The options at tackle in my recent seven-round NFL Mock Draft came down to Kingsley Suamataia (BYU) and Jordan Morgan (Arizona). Wide receiver options included Keon Coleman (Florida State), Troy Franklin (Oregon), Xavier Legette (South Carolina), Ladd McConkey (Georgia), Ricky Pearsall (Florida), and Roman Wilson (Michigan).

If a wide receiver is selected in Round 2, an offensive tackle gets targeted in Round 3. Patrick Paul (Houston) and Kiran Amegadjie (Yale) would be my top two targets, both both were selected before the Patriots pick. So if New England does go with a wide receiver in Round 2, an attempt should be made to trade up from No. 68 and get their offensive tackle at the end of Round 2. Otherwise, the play is to select Suamataia or Morgan, and hope one of the above-mentioned wide receivers starts to slide down draft boards. If not, the next tier of wide receivers includes Ja’Lynn Polk (Washington), Devontez Walker (North Carolina), Malachi Corley (Western Kentucky), Jalen McMillan (Washington), Javon Baker (UCF), etc.

What is the Cost of Trading for a Wide Receiver?

Several wide receivers changing homes before the start of 2024 is not out of the question. Most prominent in these discussions are Cincinnati’s Tee Higgins and San Francisco’s Brandon Aiyuk. Could a pair of third-round picks (2024, 2025) be enough to get a deal done? It would enable New England to select a tackle in Round 2, not worry about which wide receivers remained, and give some structure to the entire wide receivers room. Although Aiyuk has been a more productive wide receiver, Higgins may be a better compliment to the players already on the roster (specifically DeMario Douglas and Kendrick Bourne). The cost for Higgins, both in terms of annual salary and draft capital, may be less as well. It is certainly worth keeping the Bengals on speed dial.

Patriots Football Now Schedule for the Week

This coming week on Patriots Football Now, there will be…

Weekly Wednesday: Seven-Round New England Patriots Mock Draft.

Patriots Roster Breakdown: Among this week’s featured players include DeMario Douglas, Matthew Judon, and Tyquan Thornton.

NFL Draft Rankings: Running Backs, Wide Receivers and Tight Ends.

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