The Patriots need a new franchise quarterback, and they’re in a great position to land one.

New England enters the 2024 NFL Draft with the third overall pick, the franchise’s highest selection since 1993. Caleb Williams is a virtual lock to be taken No. 1 overall by the Chicago Bears, but the directions of the ensuing picks aren’t very clear. The Patriots, though, will have a chance to draft one of the best at the position if they stay in their current slot.

Could that be signal-caller be Drake Maye? According to ESPN’s Mike Reiss, the North Carolina product already has made a good impression on important folks in New England.

“North Carolina QB Drake Maye, who is among those the Patriots could be considering with the No. 3 overall pick, impressed first-year head coach Jerod Mayo,” Reiss wrote in a column published Tuesday night. “He’s squarely on the team’s radar if he is available.”

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Reiss’ ESPN colleague, longtime draft guru Mel Kiper Jr., reported last week that the Patriots “don’t love” Maye, who would be the consensus best signal-caller available if Jayden Daniels is drafted second by the Washington Commanders. Dan Orlovsky, another ESPN analyst, believes Maye needs to sit for a while before taking the field in the NFL.

But that’s an available luxury in New England, where Jacoby Brissett can be a capable bridge starter. Mayo and team owner Robert Kraft both seem on board with the Patriots’ patient approach to rebuilding, so Maye likely wouldn’t be thrown into the fire if he’s drafted by New England.

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New England showcased the wrong way of ushering in a quarterback when it completely mismanaged Mac Jones. So the Patriots likely will build a better development plan for their next QB, whether it’s Maye or someone else.

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