The Patriots face a pivotal decision with the third overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, and while owner Robert Kraft might not have direct say in what his team does next month, he’s made clear the direction they should go in.

Head coach Jerod Mayo kept New England’s options open when asked this week at the annual NFL meetings in Orlando, Fla. if the team was willing to trade out of the top three. Mayo also praised Jacoby Brissett and Drake Maye, who the Patriots reportedly “don’t love” as a prospect but also is “squarely” on their radar.

Those mixed messages mean mock drafters can choose multiple paths for New England in the draft. However, Kraft understands the powerful spot the Patriots are in, and he believes the team could support a young quarterback following Mac Jones’ disastrous tenure that ended with a trade to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

“Definitely. I think Alex Van Pelt has great experience,” Kraft told reporters Tuesday, per Patriots video. “I don’t think the last couple years, how we handled the offense, speaking as a fan, it wasn’t the kind of approach we wanted. Look, one way or another, we know at some point we’re going to get a young quarterback who will be gifted. Fortunately, there is a number of them in this draft. Where we take that position will depend on what comes to us. But I hope our personnel do a good job in that area and I really believe we have the coaching to support that.”

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Kraft’s comments were in line with Mayo and de facto general manager and director of scouting Eliot Wolf. The Patriots seem to like the other quarterbacks in the class outside of the top three, which is why they are a candidate to trade down. However, Wolf told reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine that taking a signal-caller in the first round was more optimal than searching for exceptions like Dak Prescott, Brock Purdy or Tom Brady in the later rounds.

New England’s leaders seem aligned on the direction the team should move toward after its worst season in three decades, but fans will have to wait and see if those plans change or if they can come to fruition.

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