The Patriots appear to be leaning toward picking a quarterback in the 2024 NFL Draft, but the big debate is which one should they take.

Head coach Jerod Mayo and de facto general manager Eliot Wolf were open to trading the third overall pick. But Mayo noted it would take a “bag” from another team, and NBC Sports Boston’s Tom Curran reported New England would only be tempted by more than three first-round picks.

Those signals hint at the Patriots’ desire to take one of the top signal-callers: Jayden Daniels, Drake Maye or J.J. McCarthy. No one knows what the Washington Commanders will do with the second overall pick, and Mayo understood how much control they will have over the 2024 NFL Draft.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter doubled down on the notion Washington will select Daniels at No. 2, which would leave Maye or McCarthy for New England. The Patriots reportedly “don’t love” the North Carolina product, but Mayo spoke highly of the prospect last month. And McCarthy reportedly is a prospect Wolf is “pushing hard” for.

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Mel Kiper Jr. had the Patriots selecting Maye in his latest mock draft this week, and when asked on a conference call two weeks ahead of the draft about his preference between Maye and McCarthy, he made his point more clear.

“You got to be able to take the concern that you have and be able to coach through it,” Kiper told Tom Curran, per NBC Sports Boston’s “Next Pats” Podcast. “If you think you can coach through the concerns and you have the staff in place, you’re going to have continuity with that staff — that’s the biggest thing with these quarterbacks. The coordinator, coach, if everything remains the same, it doesn’t change first year, second year, third year, fourth year, if you have that happen, you’re doomed. Again, I think it goes beyond the quarterback and what his strengths and weaknesses are. A lot of it has to do with the organization that gets him. So if you handle Maye properly, handle McCarthy properly, I think you’re going to have a solid quarterback. I think the guy that has a chance to be great out of those two is Maye. McCarthy could be solid, not a bust. I think you look at it a little differently. If you want to hit the home run, I think you take Drake Maye.”

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It was a bit of a qualifying answer from Kiper, but it makes sense. It’s also why some have concerns about the Patriots drafting a quarterback since he could be surrounded by an inferior supporting cast. But it does appear Mayo and offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt are in for a lengthy partnership, so the coaching staff would be stable.

Kiper had the Patriots selecting wide receiver Keon Coleman in the second round, so Maye would get support if New England did choose to hit a “home run” with the No. 3 pick.

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