The 2024 NFL Draft is just around the corner, and perhaps no team is more intriguing near the top of Round 1 than the New England Patriots. Everyone anticipates the AFC East squad will be after a new quarterback. But which prospect fits their wants and needs? Which ones will be available? And what about trade possibilities?

We're running through all the burning questions with resident Patriots expert Tyler Sullivan:

Benjamin: It's finally time. Clearly the Patriots want and need a quarterback. But how convinced are you that New England prefers to stick at No. 3 overall, using that pick to address the position?

Sullivan: Chicago (No. 1) and Washington (No. 2) both seem locked into making their selections, which opens the door for New England to listen to teams wanting to trade up. De facto general manager Eliot Wolf said the club was "open for business" but I believe they'd need to be blown away to move the pick. It's the highest selection of Robert Kraft's ownership and they have a clear need at quarterback. Hard to move off it under the circumstances unless it's a ''Godfather'' offer.

Benjamin: Based on the comments and/or track records of Patriots brass (i.e. Eliot Wolf, head coach Jerod Mayo, offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt), what kind of quarterback do you believe the team prefers, beyond a competent one?

Sullivan: I thought Jerod Mayo made an interesting comment earlier this offseason when talking about quarterback prospects where he noted that "you've also got to kind of see how low is the floor." Sort of made me think they could go the safer route, which may also play into how they want to run their offense. Van Pelt comes from Cleveland, which ran a more conservative, play-action style offense and I think that jives with how Mayo -- a defensive-minded coach -- would want to run things as well. So, I'd say a quarterback who is comfortable with play-action and makes timely, accurate throws when called upon.

Benjamin: This begs the natural follow-up: Who, then, among this year's top quarterback prospects, do you believe best fits that mold? And do you anticipate this player being on the board at No. 3?

Sullivan: It could very well be Michigan's J.J. McCarthy. That's sort of the exact role he was thrust into under Jim Harbaugh, right? That said, I think both Jayden Daniels and Drake Maye could also thrive in this type of system, and couple it with a higher upside.

Benjamin: So let's play out a few scenarios then: If you had ultimate say on the pick, which of those three -- Daniels, Maye, McCarthy -- would have your vote, assuming they are on the board? And how do you believe the Patriots would actually order those three on a big board?

Sullivan: I think the Patriots would order it 1.) Daniels, 2.) Maye, and 3.) McCarthy, but it's closer than most would assume based on how the outside has this quarterback class tiered. Personally, I would roll with Maye. He has the size and arm strength that thrives in the NFL along with mobility. His footwork has been one of his big question marks, but I believe that's coachable. If he were to reach his potential, the Patriots could have Josh Allen-lite.

Benjamin: Before we get to the final prediction, let's do a final sweep of the "Godfather offer." What kind of compensation would you be seeking to move off No. 3, assuming it eliminates the aforementioned prospects as possibilities? And are there any later Day 1 or Day 2 quarterbacks that you believe the Patriots would be comfortable targeting after a move down?

Sullivan: Minnesota has been the popular mock trade partner with the Patriots, so let's use them as an example. If they were to offer No. 11, No. 23 and a future first, you'd have to seriously consider it. That'd still put you within range of taking Washington's Michael Penix Jr., and you'd pick up more assets to address key areas of need on other parts of the roster. That's comparable to the 49ers trade-up in 2021 with the Dolphins. If Wolf and Co. are looking for a historic overpay, I wonder if demanding inclusion of a veteran at a position of need (like Christian Darrisaw) would get this would-be blockbuster over the hump.

Benjamin: At any rate, then, the Patriots essentially hold the keys to what happens at the top of this year's draft and quarterback class. So with all that said, standing here today, what is your final projection for how things unfold in New England? And as an aside, what is your ultimate dream scenario for Patriots fans?

Sullivan: As fun as the pre-draft process is, there's a lot of smoke that flies around and I ultimately think the top three will be pretty chalky when it's all said and done with Caleb Williams, Daniels, and Maye coming off the board in that order. That's the right move for New England in my estimation. As for a dream scenario, I'd love to see them take Maye at No. 3 and then use No. 34 overall to jump back into the back end of the first round to acquire either a tackle or wide receiver.