The Patriots drafted Joe Milton III, who joins Drake May in the QB room

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots selected University of Tennessee quarterback Joe Milton III in the sixth round of the NFL draft on Saturday, taking North Carolina's Drake Maye third overall.

Big no. Milton admitted he was a little surprised to hear from the Patriots at 193, but said it was special to get word from the team given the crisis he's reportedly faced in his career.

“I had everything [NFL] Hats off. You never know where you're going to end up. I was waiting for any phone call,” he told reporters in a video conference. “It's a blessing, for sure.”

The 6-foot-5, 246-pound Milton said his conversations with the Patriots were all about playing quarterback. Some draft analysts wondered if teams would consider him a tight end, but Milton said bluntly: “That's never going to happen.”

The Patriots now have five quarterbacks on their roster, led by veteran Jacoby Brissett, who signed a one-year deal worth $8 million in March. Maye is the promising quarterback of the future on a deep chart with Milton, 2022 fourth-round pick Bailey Chappey and second-year player Nathan Rourke.

“An opportunity. I feel like everywhere you go, no matter which quarterback gets picked in this draft, you have to compete,” said Milton, who developed a connection with Maye before the draft. They first met at the Peyton Manning-run camp before the season. “No matter who you are, nothing is given to you. That's what I'm waiting to do.”

The pick used to select Milton was acquired from the Jacksonville Jaguars in March in exchange for former starter and first-round pick Mack Jones.

It was just the second time in team history that the Patriots selected two quarterbacks in one draft. Another time came in 1983 with Tony Eason and Tom Ramsey.

Additionally, New England became the fourth team since 2000 to draft a quarterback after taking one in the first round. The others are Pittsburgh in 2022 with Kenny Pickett and Chris Oladokun, Washington in 2012 with Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins ​​and Indianapolis in 2012 with Andrew Luck and Chandler Harnish.

“We're trying to bring good football players through the door, and Milton will be one of them,” Patriots first-year coach Jerrod Mayo said. “Obviously, he understands that we took a quarterback at 3 with Drake. One thing we preach is competition. Nothing is given. It's all earned. That's how we thought about the process.”

Asked if the Patriots would consider using Milton at anything other than quarterback, Mayo said: “We'll have to see how it plays out once we put the pads on, but we drafted him as a quarterback.”

Milton, 24, spent three seasons at Michigan, mostly sitting behind starter Shea Patterson before starting five games in 2020 and then being replaced by Kate McNamara. He transferred to Tennessee in 2021, starting the first two games of his rookie season before injuring his ankle. Hendon Hooker takes over the quarterback reigns later this year and into 2022.

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Milton didn't bounce back until the final two games of 2022 when Hooker suffered a knee injury. The strong-armed Milton was named Orange Bowl MVP after going 19-of-28 for 251 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Clemson. He returned as a starter in 2023, using an extra year of eligibility due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In 12 starts last season, he was 229-of-354 for 2,813 yards with 20 touchdowns and five interceptions. He added 78 rushes for 299 yards and seven touchdowns.

His 20 touchdown passes traveled an average of 21.2 yards downfield, second-most in the FBS among quarterbacks with 20 touchdown passes, trailing only Alabama's Jalen Milrow (25.4).

From 2021 to '23, Milton had 17 pass attempts of at least 50 air yards. No other FBS player had more than nine in that span.

Summing up his journey on Saturday, Milton said: “It's an amazing moment. I'm so speechless at the moment.”

Milton became the first Tennessee player selected by the Patriots since Mayo, their former linebacker and now coach, in 2008 (10th overall).

“It's always good to have two 'VFLs' in the building, especially when you're somewhere other than Knoxville,” Milton said, referring to the motto, “Volunteer for Life.”

“It would be great if we could reconnect, get to know each other.”

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