The Patriots’ second pick in the 2024 NFL Draft was met with quite a bit of criticism.

Thirty-four picks after New England selected Drake Maye, Eliot Wolf and company provided the incoming rookie quarterback with a new weapon in the form of Ja’Lynn Polk. Polk was very productive in his final season with Washington, but many NFL analysts — including ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. — thought the Patriots reached for the wide receiver.

Not everyone was down on New England taking Polk with the fifth pick of the second round, though. ESPN’s Field Yates loved the pick, so much so that he thought it was a steal for New England.

“Polk finished 43rd on my board, and I love his excellent hands, route running, toughness and body control,” Yates wrote in a column published Tuesday. “He is a substance-over-sizzle player who just always finds a way to move the chains. He averaged 16.9 yards per catch over the past two seasons with Washington, and Drake Maye will look his way often.”

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Polk might prove to be a fine player in New England, but the pick could age poorly if fellow wideouts from the 2024 class become stars. The Patriots reportedly tried to trade back into Round 1 last Thursday night, but they weren’t successful and thus missed out on potential game-changers like Xavier Legette and Keon Coleman.

But Wolf and Jerod Mayo clearly see something in Polk, who they hope will be a household name in Foxboro, Mass., for years to come.

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