ITWR: New England Patriots start their rebuild with the selection of franchise left tackle Olumuyiwa Fashanu

In this week's Inside the War Room we look at what the New England Patriots may do in the 2024 NFL Draft and much more.
New England first round pick Olumuyiwa Fashanu
New England first round pick Olumuyiwa Fashanu / G Fiume/GettyImages

The New England Patriots are scheduled to have their highest NFL Draft pick in 31 years. That year the team had the number one pick and used it on quarterback Drew Bledsoe. While the Patriots would love to take a quarterback with the number three pick in the 2024 NFL Draft the team will likely see the only two quarterbacks worth that pick Caleb Williams or Drake Maye off the board.

In this week’s Inside the War Room, we take a look at what New England may do in the 2024 NFL and also highlight the following ten NFL Draft prospects who stood out in week 12, three prospects to watch this weekend, and a few underclassmen who are returning to school.

New England Patriots Mock Draft

Round 1 Pick 3: Olumuyiwa Fashanu, OT, Penn State

While the New England Patriots would love to add either Caleb Williams or Drake Maye with this pick, both will already be off the board. This will leave New England to pick between Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr and Penn State offensive tackle Olumuyiwa Fashanu with this selection. The team decides to go with Fashanu as they will need a replacement for Trent Brown who will be a free agent this offseason. The team also decides that a franchise left tackle is more important than a franchise wide receiver.

Round 2 Pick 35: Bo Nix, QB, Oregon

The Patriots add what they hope is their long-term answer at the quarterback position with the selection of Bo Nix. While Nix may not have the raw tools Caleb Williams or Drake Maye do he is an extremely productive passer who thrives at creating plays. Along with drafting Nix, look for the Patriots also to bring in a veteran quarterback in free agency.

Round 3 Pick 67: Adonai Mitchell, WR, Texas

New England uses its third straight pick in the 2024 NFL Draft to upgrade their lackluster offense. This time they take Texas wide receiver Adonai Mitchell who is having by far the best season of his career this year. He should be able to compete for a starting job as a rookie and will be one of the Patriots’ most dynamic offensive weapons.

Round 4 Pick 103: T.J. Tampa, CB, Iowa State

The Patriots got great value when they selected cornerback Christian Gonzalez with the 17th overall pick last year. However, they need to add more at this position, especially after releasing Jack Jones. Iowa State’s T.J. Tampa is a big physical corner who excels in press coverage.

Round 5 Pick 139: Adisa Isaac, DE, Penn State

The Patriots have struggled getting to the quarterback this year averaging just 1.8 sacks a game which ranks 28th in the NFL. They address this need with the selection of Penn State defensive end Adisa Issac who has already set career highs this season with 13.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks.

Round 6 Pick 180: Drake Stoops, WR, Oklahoma

New England addresses the wide receiver position for the second time in the 2024 NFL Draft with the selection of Oklahoma wide receiver Drake Stoops. Stoops is a smart, sure-handed wide receiver who should be able to make an impact both as a receiver and punt returner.

Round 6th Pick 191: Nash Hutmacher, DT, Nebraska

Defensive tackle is not a big need for New England, but you can never have too many defensive linemen. Nebraska’s Nash Hutmacher will be one of the biggest defensive tackles in the NFL Draft coming in at 330 pounds and moves extremely well for someone his size. Teams will also love his high school wrestling background which saw him go 166-0 and be named the nation’s No. 1 high school heavyweight wrestler.

Round 7 Pick 223: Jalen Green, OLB, James Madison

With the last pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, the Patriots add one more pass rusher. James Madison’s Jalen Green was leading the nation in sacks with 15.5 before a season-ending injury.

Top Ten NFL Draft Performances of Week Twelve

1. Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU

For the first time in Inside the War Room history, we have a repeat performance for the top NFL Draft prospect performance in back-to-back weeks. This honor goes to LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels who threw for 413 yards and six touchdowns on Saturday, to go along with his two rushing scores. This now gives Daniels 13 touchdowns and 1,115 yards over the past two weeks.

2. Bo Nix, QB, Oregon

Another quarterback who has two elite weeks in a row is Oregon’s Bo Nix. Two weeks ago he threw for four touchdowns and 412 yards against USC. This week he had another 400 yards passing game 381 of them coming in the first half. He also tossed six touchdown passes during the first half of the team’s blowout win over Arizona State.

3. Nathaniel Watson, MLB, Mississippi State

The top defensive performance of the week was turned in by Mississippis State linebacker Nathaniel Watson. Watson was all over the field on Saturday picking up a ridiculous 21 tackles against Southern Mississippi. He also added to his sack total on a strip sack in the second quarter which now gives him ten sacks on the year.

4. Ben Kopenski, DE, Tulsa

A player who carries an undrafted free agent grade who had a big game this week was Tulsa defensive end Ben Kopenski. In a tough loss to North Texas Kopenski, picked up a career-high three sacks on the day.

5. Chase Klien, MLB, Eastern Michigan

Like Kopenski, Chase Klien is a player who benefited from transferring from a Power Five school to a Group of Five school. Klein started his career off at Michigan State but never had more than 29 tackles in a season. However, since transferring he has been a tackling machine. Last season, he recorded 91 tackles and so far this year has 132 stops. He tied his career high of 19 tackles in a double overtime win over Akron on Saturday, which is the seventh time this year he has had double-digit tackle numbers.

6. Jared Wiley, TE, TCU

TCU tight end Jared Wiley had by far the best game of his career against Baylor. In this game, he set career highs in catches (7), yards (178), and touchdowns (2). His highlight of the day came in the second quarter when he scored on an 81-yard reception. Look for him to get looks on day three of the 2024 NFL Draft.

7. Frank Harris, QB, UTSA

This season has been disappointing for UTSA quarterback Frank Harris, who has seen a significant drop in production for his outstanding 2022 season. However, he did have one of the best games of his career in the last home game of his career. Against South Florida, he passed for 411 yards and three touchdowns while also rushing for 112 yards and three scores.

8. Jabbar Muhammad, CB, Washington

Washington’s Jabbar Muhammad did a great job of shutting down his side of the field against Oregon State. Against The Beavers, he came away with two picks and one fumble recovery. He also broke up four passes which gives him 14 pass breakups on the year.

9. Dayon Hayes, DE Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh defensive end Dayon Hayes got to the quarterback for the first time in eight games, picking up two sacks on the day. In addition to harassing the passer all day long, he also held up well vs. the run. After the game, Hayes announced he would be returning to Pittsburgh next season.

10. Harrison Mevis, K, Missouri

Harrison Mevis allowed Missouri to avoid the upset against Florida on Saturday. In this game, he connected on all four of his field goals, including the game-winning 30-yard field goal. In addition to connecting on all four of his field goals, he also went 3-for-3 on extra points. It would not be a shock if some team takes him in the sixth or seventh round of the 2024 NFL Draft.

Three Prospects to Watch in Week Thirteen

1. Mike Sainristil, CB, Michigan

The biggest game of the year this week is the battle in Ann Arbor, between Michigan and Ohio State. A key matchup in this game will be between Michigan cornerback Mike Sainristil and Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. Sainristil carries a high day three grade on my board and is coming off the best game of his career. He will be tasked with shutting down Harrison who is the top wide receiver in college football.

2. Jason Marshall Jr, CB, Florida

This has been a down year for Florida cornerback Jason Marshall who entered the season with a second-round grade but now carries a day-three grade. One of the reasons his stock has fallen is he has given up his share of big plays, and has also missed too many tackles. Against Florida State, he will go up against one of the most physical and top wide receivers in the 2024 NFL Draft Keon Coleman.

3. Taliese Fuaga, OT, Oregon State

While Marshall has seen his draft stock fall this year Oregon State offensive tackle Taliese Fuaga has seen his NFL Draft stock skyrocket. Going into the year he was rated as a 7th-round draft pick on my board but is now seen as a late first-round or early second-round pick. One of the reasons he has risen so much is his impressive run blocking. This ability will be put to the test this week against Oregon and their tenth-rated rush defense.

NFL Draft Scouting Notes

— Last week, Iowa punter Tory Taylor announced he will enter the 2024 NFL Draft. This should not come as a surprise as he is already 26 years old and is by far the best punter in college football. He is currently averaging 48.2 yards per punt and in 2021 and 2022 he set a school record for most punting yards in a season. He also is placing an amazing 44.5% of his punts inside the 20-yard line. For these reasons, he is the highest-graded punter in Inside the War Room history and could go as high as the third round.

— One player who will be returning to school next fall is Colorado quarterback Shedeur Sanders. This is not a big surprise as he is making plenty of money with NIL deals, and also comes from an extremely wealthy family. His dad is also Colorado football coach Deion Sanders, who sure could use him in order get the Buffalos into a bowl game next season. He will enter the 2025 NFL Draft class with a high first-round draft grade on my board.

— Another quarterback who sounds like he will be returning to school is Texas' Quinn Ewers. This is a good move for Ewers who still needs to be a more consistent quarterback and remain healthy next season. If he had entered the 2024 NFL Draft I had a third-round grade on him, but with a strong season next year, he could earn a first round draft grade in 2025.

— Going into the 2024 season I named Pittsburgh cornerback M.J. Devonshire the most underrated NFL Draft prospect. Devonshire is having another strong this season as well already having more pass breakups (12), than he did last season. He has also tied his interception total this year with three. In addition to his level of production, he also has several NFL traits that scouts will like including long arm, 4.4 speed, and the ability to return punts.

— One player I missed on going into the season was UNI quarterback Theo Day who I saw as a possible day-two pick. However, Day had the worst season of his UNI career this year throwing 10 less touchdowns then he did last season, and nine more interceptions. His worst game of his career came on Saturday as he threw four picks against North Dakota State. Despite this horrible year look for Day to be brought in as a priority free agent due to his 6-foot-5 225-pound size and strong arm.

— The worst news of the weekend was that Flordia State quarterback Jordan Travis's career is over at Florida State after suffering a gruesome leg injury against North Alabama. This was a horrible way for one of the best quarterbacks in Florida State history to end his career, and will likely make it impossible for him to get drafted in the 2024 NFL Draft.

NFL Draft Quotes

“He’s big, strong, physical. He’s the prototype right tackle that everybody would look for in terms of having a power guy who is effective in being able to pass block well enough”

-Alabama head coach Nick Saban on right tackle JC Latham

“Caedan is playing his best ball. He’s out there playing physical. He’s doing some great things. His mindset has changed overall in a better way, and it’s fun. This is why I coach. Being able to see someone change and play their best ball because they believe in what Coach [James] Franklin has told him and what I have preached to him, and being able to see that, is why I coach.”

- Penn State offensive line coach Phil Trautwein on offensive tackle Caedan Wallace

"Christian is just an incredible human being, great integrity, cares about this program, this team, and his teammates. He takes great pride in his work ethic and has become a dominant offensive guard/center. He might be a center at the next level. He puts in the time to perfect his craft. He comes to work every day as the same guy. As a coach you love being around guys like that."

- UConn head coach on offensive guard Christian Haynes via CT Insider

“I’m just amazed watching him. I’ve never seen a person own the field the way he owns the field. When he is on and he wants to do what he wants to do, there’s no stopping him. It’s pretty awesome to watch, but just really excited for him and seeing where that goes.”

- Iowa special teams coordinator LeVar Woods on punter Tory Taylor via The Athletic