With the third pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots… will select a quarterback. That much seems certain. But with one more month to prepare, the team still seems uncertain in its search for a new leader of the franchise.

When New England traded Mac Jones to the Jaguars earlier this month after three erratic seasons, the team’s intentions became crystal clear. Owner Robert Kraft didn’t have to snidely confirm it for everyone to reach the conclusion on their own.

“As a fan, I put my fan hat on and I definitely would,” Kraft said Tuesday about the team’s potential plans to draft a passer. “In the end, you can’t win in this league consistently unless you have a first-rate quarterback and a first-rate coach.”

At the latter position, Kraft and the Patriots have already taken a gamble, parting ways with legendary coach Bill Belichick and promoting Jerod Mayo as the program’s new leader.

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Cutting ties with Belichick, an eight-time Super Bowl winner, was much harder than dealing away Jones, an underperforming quarterback entering his fourth season. Now, the new-look Patriots must find the face of their offense. Three options may be available.

Even when Jones was on New England’s roster, North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye was a front-runner to take the Patriots’ starting job. The team reportedly sent a caravan of coaches and scouts to attend UNC’s Pro Day on Thursday, officially marking Maye as a top option.

“Drake Maye had a fantastic interview at the combine,” Mayo said earlier this week. “He brings a lot of energy. You can tell he has that leadership ability.”

Maye was once considered a rival to USC’s Caleb Williams for the first overall pick, but he regressed slightly in the 2023 season. He is now in contention with LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels, another of New England’s options.

Unlike Maye, who is best known for his arm and surprising mobility, Daniels enters the 2024 draft as a profoundly athletic quarterback who makes up for his slender build with rushing ability and accuracy. Drawing comparisons to Jalen Hurts, Kyler Murray and Tyrod Taylor, he could allow New England to expand its offensive attack if the team drafts him.

A month ago, Maye and Daniels were considered the only options for New England, but the meteoric rise of Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy on many draft boards launched him into the conversation for the third overall pick.

McCarthy is coming off a national championship victory with the Wolverines’ run-first offense, but a solid showing at the combine and consistent praise from former Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh seems to have teams believing that he has more to show.

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