ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. released his first 2024 NFL mock draft today and there was a shakeup near the top of the board.

For much of the NFL regular season, the talk was about securing a top-2 draft pick in order to get a shot at picking either USC QB Caleb Williams or UNC QB Drake Maye. Now in his first mock, Kiper still has Williams going first overall to the Bears, but has Heisman-winning LSU QB Jayden Daniels going No. 2 to Washington and the Patriots selecting Maye with the third pick.

It's not that Maye (3608yds/24td/9int, 449yds/9td rush in 12 games) necessarily did anything to lose the No. 2 spot according to Kiper, it's just that Daniels (3812yds/40td/4int, 1134yds/10td rush in 12 games) was so spectacular over the second half of the season that he took it.

Of course, with the Bears taking Williams in Kiper's preview, that means current Bears' QB Justin Fields would be available on the market for QB-needy teams.

The Athletic's NFL Draft expert Dan Brugler says he expects Fields to get moved for "two Day 2 picks," Day 2 of the NFL Draft consists of the 2nd and 3rd rounds.

Could that be a move for Patriots fans to get behind? Fields is someone who has shown, albeit somewhat inconsistently, that he can produce in the NFL. The 24-year-old former 1st round pick rushed for over 1100 yards with 25 total TD's a year ago, while this year he passed for 2562yds/16td/9int and added 657yds/4td on the ground. His 10-28 career record might not get fans psyched up, but remember, Chicago had been pretty brutal during his first two years under center. Some combination of a second and third, or multiple of one or the other, could be viewed as a steal if Fields reaches his potential at the position.

Acquiring a QB outside the draft would afford New England the opportunity to draft Ohio State WR Marvin Harrison Jr., who Kiper has flying off the board after the three QB's with Arizona's first pick at No. 4. His dad was pretty good, and Kiper describes Jr. as one of the best receiver prospects of the last decade - "a 6-foot-4 speedster who can run every route and break tackles after the catch" - who Kiper says can step in as a WR1 in Year 1.

That, of course, is the other luxury the Pats have severely lacked in recent seasons - top speed and skill at the skill positions.

Lastly, free agency always remains a path, though the best options in that pool are Kirk Cousins, Russell Wilson and Jimmy Garoppolo. Not exactly the fresh start I'm seeking.

Which path would you take?

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