The New England Patriots sit at 2-10 entering their primetime matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the midst of an unusually poor season.

In the current draft order for the 2024 NFL Draft, the Patriots would currently hold the No. 2 overall pick. Among the college prospects potentially available in the early picks would be University of Southern California quarterback Caleb Williams, University of North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye, and Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr.

The 2023 season has proved exactly where the Patriots need to improve. New England’s defense will be just fine, with that side of the ball allowing 10 points or less in three straight weeks, and will get their best two defenders back next season — edge rusher Matthew Judon and cornerback Christian Gonzalez.

Since Tom Brady left after the 2019 season, the Patriots have lacked consistency on the offensive side, both at quarterback and especially in surrounding skill players. Mac Jones offered a quick flash in 2021 when he was the runner-up for Offensive Rookie of the Year and made the Pro Bowl as an alternate. Since then, he has regressed significantly over the last two seasons. While coaching changes and insufficient weapons have certainly played a role, Jones’ own struggles have been alarming for the Patriots.

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In that span, Jakobi Meyers was the only true source of consistency, though New England allowed him to walk in free agency last offseason. Kendrick Bourne offered a dynamic element, though his inconsistent usage from the coaching staff limited his potential. Several other options Nelson Agholor, DeVante Parker, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Jonnu Smith among others have not elevated the offense either.

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To keep it simple, the Patriots need a complete overhaul of their offense. But where to start? Quarterback or wide receiver?

There may not be a wrong answer in this scenario. New England has not had a true No. 1 target since Rob Gronkowski. At the same time, every modern contender in the NFL thrives off of elite quarterback play that drives the offense.

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In terms of the quarterbacks, Williams and Maye both offer dynamic qualities and likely serve as upgrades over the current state of Jones. Williams is an incredible arm talent whose skillset can change the complexion of any game. The USC quarterback won the Heisman Award and 2022 and posted the highest passing efficiency rating of his career (170.1) in 2023.

In North Carolina, Maye offers a bigger frame, more playmaking ability and a stronger arm than any current quarterback option for New England. The North Carolina passer dazzled over the last two seasons in the Atlantic Coast Conference and looks poised to transition well at the next level. With obvious pros and cons to each, either quarterback would be a great place to start for the Patriots to reshape their future.

At the same time, every great contending quarterback has at least one game-changing weapon on offense. For Patrick Mahomes with the Kansas City Chiefs, it’s tight end Travis Kelce. In Buffalo, Josh Allen has wide receiver Stefon Diggs. Joe Burrow facilitates to playmakers in running back Joe Mixon and a talented pair of wide receivers Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins. That’s just in the AFC and the list goes on and on.

Could Jones have had a different trajectory had he had an elite pass-catcher too? It’s a fair argument, especially after the leading example of New England’s failure to surround the quarterback with talent came this summer when the team chose not to sign All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins after hosting him on a visit.

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Most contenders have drafted their top options. Next spring, the Patriots could find their star with Harrison Jr. The son of Hall of Fame receiver Marvin Harrison Sr., the Ohio State receiver has dominated at every level during his career in college and truly changes the potential of an offense. He would be the most dynamic receiver New England has featured since Randy Moss. Whoever would play quarterback for the Patriots in this scenario would instantly benefit from throwing to Harrison Jr.

The verdict?

The Patriots need a true No. 1 weapon eventually and cannot wait much longer. Ultimately, New England’s restart needs to start with a fresh quarterback. Both options in this draft provide a great foundation for the future.

Featured image via Barbara J. Perenic/Columbus Dispatch/USA TODAY NETWORK