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Cardale Jones Could Be a Potential Lottery Ticket QB Prospect for the Patriots in the Draft

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The Patriots lack QB certainty past the 2017 season with both Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo set to become unrestricted free agents.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots are well positioned at the Quarterback position for the next two years with Tom Brady making the calls. Earlier this offseason, I described the need for the Patriots to settle their long term QB stability issue whether it's deciding on Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo, or someone else. This offseason is the year to do so, because procrastinating at the QB position is the easiest way for the Patriots to drop from the top to the bottom in the Post-Brady era. The Patriots don't have a first round pick this year and there are no mid-round bets for the Patriots to develop in the draft this year with the need to use those picks at other positions.

It's a safe bet to assume the Patriots probably don't have a realistic shot at drafting Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, and Paxton Lynch, which means they should perhaps take a late-round flyer on a high ceiling QB. One name that comes to mind is Ohio State QB Cardale Jones. I'm sure you'll be quick to dismiss this idea, but on the third day of the draft teams are essentially picking up players who slipped in the draft as well as lottery ticket prospects with low floors and high ceilings. Jones fits in the latter category, leading his team to a championship in the 2014 season then losing his job the following season. The fact he lost that job should keep his draft stock down to about the 5th or 6th round at best.

Jones is just as gifted a QB as the top prospect at the position. However, the team that ultimately drafts him will need to give him at least a couple years of development before he's likely ready to start for them. In the meantime, a team that has a top, but aging QB like the Patriots do could afford to burn a late pick on a lottery ticket like Jones and develop him behind their guy. In the Patriots case, learning behind the GOAT could do wonders for him. Inside the Pylon wrote an article talking about his ability to understand scheme and protection, where he was able to recognize a blitz and adjust the protection. The play ultimately resulted in a sack, but really through the fault of his QB as his right tackle was beat badly by Carl Nassib, who will be a mid-round pick in this year's draft.

The Quarterback position isn't just about physical tools and being able to chuck a football 80 yards without effort, although it does help to have that ability. An NFL QB has to be in charge of everything and know what the protection and progressions are on the play. In that article he was able to recognize a potential overload blitz from the slot and moved his TE Nick Vannett in to account for a potential blitz, which never happened. When it comes to dealing with blitzes, it's always better to have them accounted for and they not blitz than not accounting for them and giving up a big play to the defense. Showing the ability to adjust protections by instinct instead of a "check with me" shows that he has future NFL starting potential. Now it's a one-play sample and he did play horribly enough to lose his job, so there is a reason to be cautiously optimistic.

The Patriots don't have a clear need for a 3rd quarterback with Brady and Garoppolo as the top 2 guys, with Brady never coming off the field. However, that should not prevent them from making a pick for a lottery ticket at the position in the 5th round or later. Most players drafted that late aren't sure bets and are basically glorified UDFAs that can't pick their own destination. They aren't sure bets to make the roster and most of them are out of the league within 3 years anyway, so there is no risk in taking a move like this. The Patriots are no strangers to making QB decisions like this, keeping Tom Brady on the roster as the 4th QB in the 2000 season in addition to drafting Jimmy Garoppolo 62nd overall with Brady still in his prime, so if they do draft a QB this year it would not surprise me one bit.

The Patriots struck gold when they drafted Brady 199th overall in 2000, perhaps history repeats itself?