When the NFL season came to a close, it seemed the New England Patriots would be deciding between Jayden Daniels and Drake Maye with their No. 3 overall pick.

But as draft chatter heated up with the marquee event now just over two weeks away, Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy appears to be in the mix for the Patriots as well.

New England de factor general manager Eliot Wolf reportedly is “pushing hard” to draft McCarthy, who plans to visit the Patriots prior to the draft. The Washington Commanders, who own the No. 2 overall pick, are also said to have heavy interest in the 21-year-old signal-caller.

Michigan star offensive lineman Zak Zinter can see why the Patriots would pull the trigger on drafting McCarthy after sharing a huddle with the 6-foot-2, 219-pound quarterback the last three seasons. Zinter played high school football in Massachusetts and while he hasn’t talked with McCarthy specifically about playing for the Patriots, Zinter sees his former teammate being a terrific fit in New England.

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“I haven’t talked about that yet,” Zinter told NESN.com. “He definitely would love the culture up there, for sure.”

Zinter added: “I want nothing but the best for him, and it’s exciting to see all the buzz and success (and that) people are talking about him.”

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McCarthy isn’t viewed as having the same type of high upside that many draft evaluators believe Daniels and Maye possess. But those who know McCarthy believe he has the same chance, or an even better one, to excel in the NFL.

McCarthy certainly doesn’t have gaudy stats compared to Daniels or Maye — he threw for 6,226 yards with 49 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in his career at Michigan — but he’s an incredibly accurate passer with a winning pedigree. McCarthy went 27-1 as Michigan’s starting quarterback and led the Wolverines to a national title this past season.

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McCarthy’s intangibles might be his best asset, and that’s something Zinter certainly understands.

“J.J. is an unreal dude,” Zinter said. “Great leader, great competitor, great friend, brother. He’s someone that would do anything for you, and you’d do anything for him. Just knowing him, playing with him for the last three years has been pretty special.”

Zinter’s a big believer in McCarthy’s on-field ability, too. The biggest questions are if that will translate to the NFL and will it come with the Patriots?

“He’s a playmaker,” Zinter said. “You watch his film and tape and even if we let some pressure get on to him, he’s scrambling out and throwing touchdowns, first downs. He’s just an incredible, dynamic player.”

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Featured image via Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports Images