Drake Maye

Latest On Patriots’ QB Depth

The Patriots are currently rostering four quarterbacks, but the team is expected to resolve the crowded depth chart as soon as possible. According to Albert Breer of SI.com, the Patriots’ plan is to “narrow the competition down to three guys by the end of spring.”

With OC Alex Van Pelt installing a new offense, the Patriots are hoping for a “more efficient” approach by the time the team gets together in the summer. New England’s organized team activities started today and will run sporadically until mandatory minicamp on June 11. The front office will presumably use that following month to resolve the logjam.

After being selected with the third-overall pick, rookie Drake Maye will obviously take up one of the roster spots. Free agent acquisition Jacoby Brissett will also be on the roster, and Breer notes that the veteran still has “an early leg up” on the QB1 spot. Assuming the Patriots intend to roster a third quarterback, the competition for the final spot will come down to Bailey Zappe and rookie Joe Milton III.

Zappe, a former fourth-round pick, has spent the past two seasons in New England, occasionally filling in for Mac Jones. Zappe went 4-4 in his eight career starts, and in his 14 appearances, he’s completed 63.2 percent of his passes for 2,053 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. After showing some promise as a rookie, Zappe seemed to take a step back in 2023, with some sources pointing to his inability to grasp Bill O’Brien‘s offensive system. Zappe’s ability to click with Van Pelt could end up determining his future with the organization.

Milton was selected in the sixth round of the Patriots, so he’s not necessarily entitled to a roster spot. Known more as a developmental passer, the Michigan and Tennessee product is known for his size (six-foot-five, 235 pounds) and his cannon of an arm. With Maye and Brissett firmly atop the depth chart, the Patriots may opt for the rookie’s upside vs. the more experienced option in Zappe.

Drake Maye, Jacoby Brissett To Compete For Patriots’ QB1 Job

Even before the Patriots pulled the trigger on Drake Maye with the third-overall pick, it was assumed that free agent acquisition Jacoby Brissett would keep the seat warm for most (if not all) of the 2024 campaign. However, it sounds like the organization is willing to give their rookie quarterback every chance to compete for the starting job.

[RELATED: Patriots Select QB Drake Maye At No. 3]

While speaking with reporters this week, head coach Jerod Mayo acknowledged that the team hasn’t made a decision on their Week 1 quarterback starter.

“Look, Jacoby understands, he’s a mentor,” Mayo said (via NFL.com’s Cameron Wolfe). “He’s very smart, has great leadership skills, and hopefully Drake can learn something from him, as well. I would say we’re going to compete all spring, we’re going to compete during training camp, and the best player will start.”

After moving on from three-year starter Mac Jones, the Patriots scooped up old friend Brissett via free agency. The veteran would never be confused with a top-end quarterback, leading many to rightfully assume that the organization was going to select a QB at No. 3.

However, Brissett has shown that he can be competent when given the opportunity to start; he went 7-8 as a full-time starter for the Colts in 2019, and he’s since gone 6-10 in stints with the Dolphins and Browns. Considering that performance as a fill-in, Brissett has earned a reputation as one of the league’s premier backup QBs.

As Wolfe notes, many scouts were critical of Maye’s “inconsistency in accuracy and overall NFL readiness,” leading many to believe that the veteran would be the QB1 until his younger teammate was ready to go. That could still end up being the case, especially considering Brissett’s former Cleveland OC Alex Van Pelt is now leading the Patriots offense. But following New England’s worst showing in decades, there’s a chance that Robert Kraft and co. want to generate some enthusiasm with their squad, resulting in Maye leading the depth chart.

The Patriots found themselves in a similar situation back in 2021. That season, Jones was expected to temporarily take a back seat to 2020 starter Cam Newton, but the rookie ended up winning the job in the preseason. While Brissett will surely be sticking around regardless of this current outcome (Newton was ultimately cut), there’s a chance the Patriots immediately start their first-round QB for the second time in a post-Tom Brady era.

Latest On Falcons’ First-Round Decision

The Falcons shocked many last Thursday when the team opted to take Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. with the eighth overall pick of the 2024 NFL Draft. Some saw the pick as a reach in value, thinking Penix could’ve been acquired after trading back; others saw it as a wasted opportunity to address a position of need after Atlanta had just given Kirk Cousins a four-year, $180MM contract with $90MM guaranteed. All this while the team faces significant tampering charges that could deprive them of more first-round picks in the future.

In terms of value, the Falcons feel like they got a steal, at least concerning positional value. Penix ended up being the fourth quarterback off the board, following Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels, and Drake Maye, but was drafted before J.J. McCarthy, who was ahead of him in most mock drafts and rankings. According to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, Atlanta was satisfied with how the order of quarterbacks played out, favoring Penix over Maye and McCarthy, though Maye’s camp had reportedly declined to work out for the Falcons, thinking he’d certainly be gone by No. 8 overall. Some in the building even had Penix ahead of Daniels at No. 2.

There also didn’t seem to be any interest in trading back. Breer reports that the team had made inquiries about moving up previously, investigating the availability of the draft’s top picks while in Indianapolis. They reportedly “got flat-out no’s” from Chicago and Washington, while the Patriots and Cardinals informed Atlanta that they would not be moving from their selection until they were on the clock. These rejections were part of what spurred the Falcons to land Cousins.

Speaking of Cousins, we’ve mentioned that the 36-year-old passer was understandably “stunned” by the team’s decision to take a quarterback with their first-round pick, much like the rest of us. Breer added a bit of context to Cousins’ shock that came with little-to-no heads up. He tells us that Cousins’ departure from Minnesota was, in part, due to the Vikings informing him that they had plans to draft a passer in 2024, making the Falcons’ similar plan sting all that much more.

The reasoning for the Falcons’ decision ended up coming down to their research into draft history. Head coach Raheem Morris and general manager Terry Fontenot explored a history that showed, on average, only one or two quarterbacks that make it in the NFL out of each draft class, very few of whom are drafted outside the top 10 picks. Also, having sought Cousins to escape from the past two years of a kind of quarterback crisis, owner Arthur Blank was not content with Cousins being the only plan moving forward; he desired a succession plan.

Fontenot explained to Blank that the personnel department didn’t have much faith in the quarterbacks that would be coming out over the next two years, that their best chance for a strong succession plan to Cousins was right in front of them. Fontenot asked Blank, “Are we gonna win for a couple seasons and then not be able to win anymore…?”

In the end, Blank agreed to the moves deemed necessary, Fontenot called Cousins once they were on the clock, and the team selected his eventual replacement. In doing so, though, the team gained a newfound sense of security. Assistant general manager Kyle Smith told the media that with the acquisition of Cousins and the drafting of Penix, the brass feels great about the quarterback position “for the next five years…minimum.”

Broncos Met With Drake Maye, Spencer Rattler; Raiders’ QB Need Impacted Team’s Bo Nix Plan

While Sean Payton effectively admitted he participated in a smokescreen effort regarding the Broncos‘ interest in trading up for a quarterback, the team was most closely tied to Bo Nix during the draft run-up. That did not end up costing the Broncos, who selected the Oregon prospect at No. 12. But the team also did its homework on other passers.

We heard before the draft that J.J. McCarthy trekked to Denver and Nix threw for Broncos brass in Eugene, but SI.com’s Albert Breer notes the Broncos did meet with Drake Maye and Spencer Rattler before the draft. Maye proved to be well out of Denver’s price range, as New England turned down two offers — from the Giants and Vikings — that included 2025 first-round picks. Ticketed to be Derek Carr‘s backup in New Orleans, Rattler did not go off the board until Round 5.

[RELATED: Assessing Bo Nix’s Prospect Profile]

Multiple reports pointed to the Broncos being interested in making an aggressive move up the board for a passer; McCarthy, who met with the Broncos on a “30” visit, was mentioned as a target. It turns out Broncos-Nix connections early this offseason doubled as prescient reports. The five-year college starter will likely be given the keys early in his rookie season, with ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano mentioning during a recent TV appearance the recent Pac-12 star is expected to “play right away.”

Broncos GM George Paton scouted Nix at four Oregon games but did not share his views with Payton, per Breer, with an aim toward the Super Bowl-winning HC — and the current Broncos top decision-maker — reaching his own conclusions on the prospect. Payton said post-draft Broncos brass viewed the Vikings as being McCarthy fans and the Raiders eyeing Michael Penix Jr. The Broncos did carry some fear, especially after the Falcons chose Penix at No. 8, the Raiders would leapfrog them for Nix, Breer adds. The QB-needy Raiders’ presence at No. 13 influenced the Broncos to stay put and make a pick many have labeled a reach.

The Raiders were, in fact, interested in Penix — more so than Nix or McCarthy — according to ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler. After a second straight offseason of extensive work on QB draft prospects, the Raiders did not add a high-value pick at the position. As the Raiders regroup around Gardner Minshew, the Broncos do not have a clear hurdle in Nix’s path to seeing action early. Denver has Jarrett Stidham as a placeholder and took a flier on Zach Wilson before passing on the ex-Jet’s fifth-year option. Barring something unexpected, it would surprise if Nix is not Denver’s starter early this season.

Although QBs coach Davis Webb ran Nix’s workout, Breer adds the Paton-Payton tandem — along with ownership — did not reveal to other members of the team’s staff where Nix stood on the team’s board. It is believed the Broncos viewed Nix as this draft’s third-best QB prospect. Most do not agree with that placement, and longtime draft analyst Todd McShay said during an appearance on The Ringer’s Ryen Russillo Podcast (h/t the New York Post) at least 10 NFL evaluators he spoke to did not have a first-round grade on Nix. The Broncos are high on Nix’s accuracy, with their research effort removing QB prospects’ screens and short routes to reveal a player who still ranked as one of Division I-FBS’ most precise passers when those dumpoffs are taken out of the equation.

Since Peyton Manning‘s retirement, the Broncos have used two first-round picks on QBs (Nix, Paxton Lynch) and one second-rounder (Drew Lock) on the position. The team made three trades for starters, obtaining Joe Flacco (2019), Teddy Bridgewater (2021) and Russell Wilson (2022), while signing Case Keenum (two years, $36MM) in 2018. Nothing has worked for the NFL’s only franchise to see a QB retire following a Super Bowl win. That has occurred twice in Denver, and the team has encountered a much tougher journey replacing Manning than John Elway.

Nix now holds the keys to the Broncos’ effort to pick up the pieces post-Russell Wilson, whose $85MM dead money number will cut into Denver’s ability to capitalize on the No. 12 pick’s rookie contract. Although Payton led the effort in pointing Drew Brees to the Hall of Fame and helping develop Tony Romo in Dallas, grooming a first-round pick from scratch will be new territory. With Wilson’s contract quickly becoming an albatross, the Broncos did not have much of a choice but to turn back to the draft.

Latest On Giants, Vikings’ Offers For Patriots’ No. 3 Overall Pick

While Drake Maye generated split opinions as a prospect during the pre-draft process, the Patriots have a rookie quarterback other teams coveted. New England’s reassembled front office has the trade proposals to confirm the interest.

The Patriots did not close off trade avenues, holding talks leading up to going on the clock for their highest draft choice in 31 years. But buzz in the hours leading up to the draft all but locked in Maye to Foxborough. The Giants and Vikings, who each had been viewed as having steady interest in the North Carolina prospect, did make notable offers for the pick.

We heard post-draft the Giants continued to pursue Maye while the Pats were on the clock. Big Blue offered New England its 2025 first-rounder to move from No. 6 to No. 3; New York’s package included that 2025 first and its second-rounder (No. 47) this year, according to ESPN.com’s Jordan Raanan. The Vikings were OK unloading their No. 23 pick (along with No. 11) and their 2025 first to climb to No. 3, per ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss. Ultimately, the Pats balked and will build around Maye.

Considering how the Giants proceeded at No. 6, their pursuit of Maye qualifies as significant. The team has regrouped around Daniel Jones, despite doing steady work on this class’ top QBs. The Giants chose Malik Nabers over J.J. McCarthyMichael Penix Jr. and Bo Nix. Each passer visited the team during the draft run-up, with Raanan adding the team did not have this QB crop’s second tier graded highly enough for an investment at No. 6.

We had a lot of conversations with a lot of teams,” Giants GM Joe Schoen said. “I’m not going to get into specifics. We had a really good player at six. That was a position that I think was a need that we needed to upgrade. I’m fired up about the kid.”

The Giants’ Maye interest points to another make-or-break season for Jones, whose $40MM-per-year contract can be shed without too much damage in 2025. Jones performed well enough in his previous “prove it” season (2022), becoming the first QB to see his fifth-year option declined and then re-sign with that team. And Nabers profiles as the top target the 2019 first-rounder has been given while with the Giants. But Jones, who is expected to be finished with ACL rehab by training camp, is clearly on the clock once again.

The Vikings’ proposal also included two Patriots mid-round picks this year going to Minnesota, per Reiss. Going into the draft, the Patriots were not impressed with the offers they had received. As the Giants’ 2025 first-rounder dangled as an important chip — as the Pats would have only stepped back three spots in this draft and picked up a second — the Vikings essentially had to include two future firsts to present a viable offer. It cost the 49ers their 2022 and ’23 first-rounders, along with a third, to vault nine spots (No. 12 to No. 3) for Trey Lance in 2021. After New England passed, Minnesota did not end up needing to trade its No. 23 overall pick — later used to move up for Dallas Turnerto land McCarthy.

Each of this draft’s non-Caleb Williams first-round QBs trekked to Minnesota to meet with the Vikings before the draft. All but Jayden Daniels participated in a workout, with SI.com’s Albert Breer adding Daniels — who did not go through QB drills at the Combine or LSU’s pro day — passed on this part of the Vikings visit. Daniels had long been expected to go No. 2 to Washington, which was far less likely to trade the pick — despite the Raiders’ efforts — compared to the Patriots.

After Mac Jones could not sustain his rookie-year momentum — as the Pats cycled through offensive coordinators post-Josh McDaniels — Maye will be tasked with growing into a franchise-caliber passer. The 6-foot-4 prospect may well begin the season behind Jacoby Brissett, but given how this process usually goes, the two-year North Carolina starter should be expected to begin Pats QB1 work well before this season ends.

Giants Sent Patriots Offer For No. 3, Aimed To Land Drake Maye

4:05pm: Providing further details on the Giants’ efforts, Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated reports New York included its 2025 first-round pick in the final offer for No. 3. The team therefore matched the Vikings in that respect, making it notable New England elected to remain in place in lieu of adding extra Day 1 capital next year.

2:00pm: The pre-draft reporting that pointed to Drake Maye pulling ahead of J.J. McCarthy for the Giants turned out to be accurate. Despite McCarthy being on the board at No. 6, New York passed and went with Malik Nabers.

As the LSU-developed wideout becomes (by far) the highest-ceiling receiver paired with Daniel Jones, it looks like the Giants will give the long-scrutinized starter yet another shot. Passing on McCarthy, Michael Penix Jr. and Bo Nix, the Giants remain a Jones-centric operation. That would not have been the case had they been able to pry No. 3 overall from the Patriots.

[RELATED: Patriots, Vikings Inquired About Justin Herbert Trade]

The Giants made a last-ditch attempt to climb from No. 6 to No. 3 for Maye, with the New York Daily News’ Pat Leonard noting the NFC East team made a final offer while New England was on the clock. After de facto Patriots GM Eliot Wolf said the team was open to dealing No. 3, rumors surfaced pointing to the likelihood the rebuilding club would keep the pick. Hours before the draft, another report had the Patriots locked into Maye. The two-year North Carolina starter is now the Pats’ hope to start the Jerod Mayo era.

New England’s asking price was expected to be “exorbitant,” according to the New York Post’s Paul Schwartz. Before the draft, a rumor indicated the Pats had received “laughable” offers for the No. 3 pick. It is unsurprising the Patriots set a high price here, as they had access to a coveted QB — thanks to their 4-13 record last season — without needing to trade up. They will hope the 6-foot-4 prospect can deliver what Mac Jones could not.

The New York end of this is more interesting, given the team’s Jones investment and Nabers choice. It appears clear the Giants — once closely linked to McCarthy — viewed a value gap between Maye and the Michigan alum. This also illustrates the last-chance season ahead for Jones, who did not impress — albeit while leading an injury-plagued offense — before going down with an ACL tear last year. The Giants can get out of the $40MM-AAV Jones deal for less than $12MM in dead money (via a post-June 1 cut transaction) in 2025, setting up a make-or-break season for the former No. 6 pick. Jones came through when last in this circumstance (in 2022), and the Giants’ Nabers move will better equip their QB this season.

Next year’s QB class is not viewed as on the level of this one, perhaps illustrating why the Giants made an aggressive push for Maye, whom the Vikings also pursued. McCarthy’s progress could haunt the Giants, but they will bet on their Nabers evaluation and hope it elevates Jones.

Patriots Select QB Drake Maye At No. 3

After suffering their worst record in more than 30 years, it was an offseason of change in New England. The Patriots are hoping to get back to their winning ways sooner than later, and the organization will be counting on their No. 3 pick to help guide the way. The Patriots have selected North Carolina QB Drake Maye with the third-overall pick.

This is New England’s first selection in a post-Bill Belichick era. While de facto GM Eliot Wolf was reportedly open to making a trade, he was reportedly seeking an unprecedented haul. That’s why most signs pointed to the organization selecting a new franchise QB.

The team moved on from former first-round QB Mac Jones this offseason. They added a clear seat-warmer in Jacoby Brissett as a replacement, so it seemed pretty clear the Patriots would walk away from the draft with a rookie QB.

Sitting with the third-overall pick, the team seemed destined to select whichever QB was left over from the grouping of Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels, and Maye. With Williams locked in at No. 1 and Daniels trending towards the No. 2 pick, there have been plenty of rumblings in New England surrounding their interest in Maye. There was some speculation that J.J. McCarthy could break into the top-three, but the Patriots didn’t end up straying from the projected pick.

Maye put himself firmly on the NFL map following a 2022 campaign where he earned ACC Player of the Year after passing for a school-record 4,321 yards. He didn’t put up nearly the same numbers during his follow-up 2023 season, but that didn’t end up hurting his draft stock.

The Patriots left the door open to a potential trade-down move, but they are not believed to have seen quality offers emerge. Teams like the Giants and Vikings were closely tied to Maye in recent days, but the Patriots — by virtue of their 4-13 record — held the right of first refusal once the Commanders chose Jayden Daniels. New England was never seriously connected to trading the pick, and the team will try again at QB after a rocky final two years with Jones.

After striking out on Jones, the Patriots will be hoping Maye provides the QB longevity they’ve been seeking since moving on from Tom Brady. With Brissett currently atop the depth chart, the team can bring Maye along slowly until he’s ready to go. New England’s arsenal of weapons leaves plenty to be desired, so with their future QB secured, it wouldn’t be shocking if the front office looks to improve their receiver corps ahead of the 2024 campaign.

Drake Maye Latest: Patriots, Ownership, Daniels, McCarthy, Giants, Vikings

5:58pm: To little surprise, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reports teams around the league believe New England will retain the third overall pick and use it on Maye. That would meet the team’s goal of adding a prospect capable of becoming a franchise passer and fall in line with the way draft winds have been blowing for quite some time. It would also, of course, increase attention on the Cardinals as the first team in position to select a non-QB.

10:34am: With Caleb Williams ticketed for Chicago and Jayden Daniels moving into clear pole position with Washington, where Drake Maye will end up has become perhaps this draft’s top talking point. A number of teams are on the radar for the two-year North Carolina starter, though the Patriots look set to have the right of first refusal.

Expected to come out of the first round with a passer, the Pats hosted Maye on a visit and have done plenty of work on this QB class. While trade-down rumblings have emerged, it does not appear strong offers have come the Pats’ way. They are expected to keep the No. 3 overall pick, and NBC Sports Boston’s Tom Curran believes Maye will be the Pats’ choice — barring a monster trade offer changing their mind. Curran mentions the Giants and Vikings as the teams that could change the Patriots’ mind with a big proposal.

This move would stand to appease ownership, which is taking a more hands-on role during this pre-draft process compared to how things ran under Bill Belichick. Pats ownership seems to carry a “strong preference” Eliot Wolf and Co. leave Round 1 with a quarterback, ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano notes. While rumors of the Pats having Michael Penix Jr. in their back pocket — in the event they trade out of No. 3 — the Washington prospect has since generated buzz about rising into the top 10. That may still be the less likely scenario for the left-hander, but the Pats would be taking a risk if they traded out of No. 3.

The Patriots are believed to, per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, have Daniels rated ahead of Maye — a ranking we first heard about during the Combine — but that may well be a moot point due to the Commanders holding the No. 2 choice. Washington GM Adam Peters and OC Kliff Kingsbury are believed to be high on Daniels, setting up a Patriots Maye-or-J.J. McCarthy call. Washington is not expected to trade down, much to Las Vegas’ chagrin. Any (likely irrelevant) Daniels preference aside, Fowler adds the Pats still like the upside Maye — who, at 21, is two years younger than the reigning Heisman winner — brings to the table.

Maye met with the Patriots, Commanders and Giants and worked out for the Vikings in Minnesota. In the view of the Boston Globe’s Ben Volin, the 6-foot-4 prospect spoke more glowingly of his Giants meeting compared to how things went in Foxborough. Maye also declined to say if he met with Robert Kraft during his visit. The Giants, who hold the No. 6 pick, employ the play-caller in place when Josh Allen‘s ascent began (Brian Daboll). The Patriots are in transition, with Alex Van Pelt set to work as a regular play-caller for the first time — save for a 2020 Browns-Steelers wild-card game Kevin Stefanski missed due to COVID-19 — in 15 years.

The Giants and Vikings have a vested interest in how the Patriots proceed. The tide has either turned for the Giants in their Maye-or-McCarthy preference, or an elaborate smokescreen operation is afoot. Maye-Giants connections have continued to come out of New York, and ESPN.com’s Jordan Raanan furthers them by offering that the recent Tar Heels standout is indeed the QB — among the options expected to be within their reach — the team covets.

That said, McCarthy chimed in (during an appearance on the Rich Eisen Show) by saying he spent more time with the Giants than any other team during the run-up to the draft. The Michigan prospect joins Maye in receiving intense scrutiny, and while he was more closely tied to the Giants weeks ago, the Broncos have been linked to him more recently. It would be costly for Denver to move up from No. 12 for McCarthy or Maye, though it is interesting Sean Payton‘s team has been more closely tied to the former given the recent rumors tying the latter to New York and Minnesota.

Sitting at Nos. 4 and 5, the Cardinals and Chargers have discussed terms with QB-needy teams residing outside the top three. How the Pats proceed will crystallize the value of those choices. Maye being off the board at 3 could weaken the positions of Arizona and Los Angeles, and hours away from the draft, it looks like that will be the case.

Broncos Worked Out Bo Nix; Vikings In Play For Oregon QB?

The Broncos have led the way when it comes to connections to Bo Nix, who is coming off a career that concluded with dominant numbers at Oregon and less impressive work at Auburn. Denver’s ties to Nix were not believed to have included a “30” visit, but a recent report provides more detail into the work Denver has done on the five-year college starter.

Sean Payton and Co. trekked to Eugene to work out the recent Ducks standout, according to SI.com’s Albert Breer. This March 18 trip came just more than a week after a Zoom call between Nix and Broncos brass. These interactions could be important for Nix, whose draft stock may be the murkiest among the top quarterback options in this year’s class.

[RELATED: Assessing Bo Nix’s Draft Stock]

A report earlier this month suggested the Broncos not taking Nix at No. 12 could precede a Will Levis-like freefall that could end with the 24-year-old QB tumbling out of the first round. But Denver has been tied to Nix since early February. The recent Pac-12 star could become a safety play for the Broncos, who have been linked to bigger-game hunting.

A report last week suggested Payton is ready to make a big splash — in a deal that could involve the team trading future high picks and/or Patrick Surtain — and move up the board for a passer he covets. J.J. McCarthy is believed to be a Broncos target, and a Wednesday report indicated other teams do indeed believe the Broncos could stomach parting with Surtain — and potentially other veterans on expiring contracts — if the prize is a quarterback near the top of the draft. These rumors suddenly make this one of the most important drafts in modern Broncos history.

The Broncos might not need to use No. 12 on Nix, potentially being able to trade down — which would help a team that gave up its 2024 second-rounder to obtain Payton’s rights from the Saints last year — and still acquire him. This would mean standing down on McCarthy or Drake Maye but would ensure Surtain stays a Bronco. The All-Pro corner now has two years remaining on his rookie contract, thanks to the Broncos picking up his fifth-year option; extension talks are tentatively expected to begin post-draft. That is, of course, if Surtain remains on Denver’s roster after tonight.

Breer’s mock draft does not send Nix to Denver, rather slotting tight end Brock Bowers at No. 12, though Peter Schrager’s final NFL.com offering this year does. Denver may not be the only potential landing spot. Nix visited the Giants (No. 6), Raiders (No. 13) and Seahawks (No. 16) and worked out for the Vikings (No. 11). While Minnesota has been perhaps the most consistently rumored team to trade into the top five for a passer, Yahoo.com’s Charles Robinson points to a scenario in which the Vikings stand down and wait — with Nix as a target.

If the Patriots draft Maye at No. 3 — as they are likely to do, barring a monster trade offer — a source informed Robinson the Vikings would be comfortable staying at No. 11 and selecting Nix. That range is viewed as high for Nix, whom some teams have graded as a second-round talent, but QB needs annually drive up the values of passing prospects. The Vikings also have a strong receiving corps that would help a player like Nix.

The Vikings, whom Schrager has trading up (via the Titans at No. 7) for McCarthy, being in play for Nix could produce a scenario in which the Broncos miss out on both the Michigan and Oregon arms. This may well hinge on the Giants’ interest in McCarthy, which is either waning or being covered up in a smokescreen effort.

If the Giants do not take a quarterback and the Vikings are comfortable waiting, McCarthy or Nix would stand to be available for the Broncos — that is, unless the Raiders or a sleeper team leapfrogs them. Teams are doubting Las Vegas will pull the trigger on such a move if Jayden Daniels is not the target. A Daniels-Antonio Pierce reunion is viewed as highly unlikely, with the 2023 Heisman winner on track to go to Washington.

Denver has Jarrett Stidham and Monday trade pickup Zach Wilson on the roster, but this depth chart would not generate much optimism ahead of Payton’s second Denver season. It is also not expected to impede a Broncos quest to add a long-term option tonight. Which QB will the team end up with to replace Russell Wilson?

Raiders, Cardinals Have Discussed No. 4; Las Vegas Unlikely To Move Up For Non-Jayden Daniels QB?

The Raiders are known to have contacted the Commanders and Chargers about the Nos. 2 and 5 overall picks. It should then come as no surprise to hear the Silver and Black have reached out about the Cardinals‘ No. 4 selection as well.

Arizona has heard from Las Vegas about No. 4, according to ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano. The Cardinals are both setting a high price on their pick and not believed to want to move too far down the board. The Raiders holding No. 13 would complicate this, as it has complicated their long-rumored effort to climb to No. 2 for Jayden Daniels. With the LSU alum (and ex-Antonio Pierce Arizona State charge) likely out of reach, the Raiders’ path has become murky.

Teams view the Raiders as unlikely to move up for a non-Daniels quarterback, CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones adds. Las Vegas made Daniels the centerpiece of a trade-up effort likely doomed by the 2023 edition’s strong finish. Pierce’s run as interim HC landed him the full-time job — as the first NFL interim boss to move to regular duty in seven years — but it also dropped the Raiders to an unfavorable draft slot. The team has been connected to Michael Penix Jr. as well, and mock drafts have indeed reflected this interest. Penix’s potential late rise aside, the Raiders may not need to trade up if they truly want the Washington standout.

Daniels has made it clear he is prepared to play for whichever team drafts him, but the dual-threat standout appears to have two destinations ranked above the team he will likely end up with by tonight. The 2023 Heisman winner, “in a dream world,” would end up with either the Raiders or Vikings, The Athletic’s Dianna Russini notes (subscription required). The Vikings also have been linked to interest in trading up for Daniels, and Minnesota — having made no secret, via actions and comments, about interest in acquiring a first-round QB this year — may be comfortable with more QBs compared to most teams.

In the Raiders’ locker room after their Week 18 win over the Broncos, Daniels has been linked to wanting to be a Raider for a bit as well. These hopes are not expected to deter the Commanders, who have been tied to the five-year college QB for a bit now. While Washington has Drake Maye and J.J. McCarthy fans in the building as well, GM Adam Peters is believed to be high on Daniels, The Athletic’s Jeff Howe adds.

The Commanders’ QB stance may also have changed as the pre-draft process dragged on. The team was believed to have been moving toward choosing Maye before the Senior Bowl, pro days and Combine, Howe adds.

It is unclear what changed the new Washington regime’s mind, as Daniels did not work out at the Combine or his pro day. The two passers famously visited, along with McCarthy and Penix, together earlier this month (Topfolf was also involved). The pre-draft circuit looks to have sold the new Washington personnel boss on Daniels, who enjoyed a far better 2023 season compared to Maye, who is more than two years younger. Peters was heavily involved in the 49ers’ call to draft Trey Lance in 2021; tonight represents a shot at redemption for the first-time GM.

One exec informed Howe he would not rule out a Daniels slide past No. 2. That scenario would add more intrigue to this draft’s expected QB-centric start, as the Patriots and Cardinals’ picks would suddenly become more valuable if Daniels were still on the board. But the purveying view hours away from Round 1 is Daniels is ticketed for D.C. This stands to leave the Pats with a Maye-McCarthy debate; both QBs are believed to have backers in Foxborough.