Over the last 6 months, the New England Patriots have drastically overhauled their quarterback depth chart. I’m not here to write about whether or not the decision to trade Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett for Phillip Dorsett and the 41st pick in the 2018 NFL Draft was good or bad, but the fact of the matter is that it happened, and the Patriots do not currently have a quarterback of the future on the roster.
So how should the Patriots address this situation? Brian Hoyer is currently under contract through 2019 on an extremely team friendly contract because he was paid 7.3 million by the San Francisco 49ers last year to start 6 games. It’s a damn shame that I’m 5’9 140, because being a backup quarterback is the best job in sports.
Barring an unlikely trade, Hoyer’s deal makes him a virtual lock for the roster in 2018; it would cost more to cut him than to keep him. But with Tom Brady entering his age 41 season, should the Patriots be content with just those two? There is precedent for the Patriots drafting a QB of the future when they had Brady and Hoyer back in 2011. Ryan Mallett was a 3rd round pick that spent his entire rookie season as the 3rd quarterback on the depth chart. Although in many ways, that season was an outlier.
Since Brady returned from injury in 2009, the Patriots have kept three quarterbacks on the roster just twice: 2011 (Hoyer and Mallett) and 2016 (Garoppolo and Brissett). On a team where every member of the 53 man roster is extracted for full value, whether it’s on special teams or for other reasons, Belichick doesn’t like keeping three quarterbacks on the roster.
The 2018 NFL Draft is very deep in the quarterback position. Should the Patriots draft a guy early?
The Patriots enter the 2018 draft with many holes defensively, and the most valuable draft capital they’ve had since 2011, when they double dipped in the the first round to grab Chandler Jones and Dont'a Hightower. Although I can see the counterpoints (Bill Belichick doesn’t like keeping three guys, the Patriots need to invest in the defense, the Patriots should maximize their window in the final years of Brady’s career by taking a starter, not a long-term backup), I fully believe the Patriots will take a quarterback in the first two rounds of the draft, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they took one at #31.
The bottom line is that the quarterback position is the most valuable position in the NFL, and it’s not particularly close. And as we’ve seen with both Brissett and Garoppolo, the Patriots could always flip the quarterback in the future. Both of the quarterback trades New England made this year had relatively light returns and the Patriots still received a positive surplus value from their initial draft investment.
If the Patriots draft a quarterback, who should they be targeting?
I’ll be highlighting more draft prospects as the months leading up the the draft tick by, but here’s a condensed preview of the quarterbacks that the Patriots could target. There seems to be a consensus top five quarterbacks, all of whom have first round grades. Unlike what we’ve seen in the past, there does not seem to be a consensus QB1, although a lot can change until the draft. The Combine isn’t for another two weeks.
Barring a catastrophe or an off the field incident, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, and Lamar Jackson will all go in the first round. Based on the demand for a quarterback this year, they could all go top 15. Out of those five, I would think that only Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson have a chance of slipping to #31. And out of those two I would take Josh Allen, my current QB2, in a heartbeat. The dude has some horrible fundamentals right now, but he also has the highest ceiling in the draft. He probably has the highest ceiling out of any quarterback since Andrew Luck, and that alone is enough to take Allen as a project quarterback behind the greatest of all time. The opinion that Lamar Jackson isn’t an NFL quarterback has been labeled as a blasphemous and borderline racist opinion on the internet, but based purely on football reasons, I don’t see Jackson succeeding at the next level for many reasons. I’ll have plenty of analysis on the top five quarterbacks in the coming months.
Beyond that there are mid-level options that could creep up to early second round consideration, led by Mason Rudolph, Luke Falk, Mike White, and Kyle Lauletta. Mason Rudolph flat out STINKS and I wouldn’t touch him until day three of the draft. Between the scheme they run down in Oklahoma State and his inability to hit receivers in tight windows, he really doesn’t fit anything that the Patriots are looking for with their quarterback of the future.
The other three are all intriguing fits. Falk has already been linked to the Patriots and he pretty much matches up with everything the Patriots want in a quarterback. He’s coming from an Air Raid offense so he’ll likely need a redshirt year as a third quarterback, but he’s good value with the Patriots’ second round pick. Both White and Lauletta are small school guys that had their stocks rise after the Senior Bowl. Lauletta in particular has been a trendy name linked to the Patriots because of the similarities he shares with Jimmy Garoppolo and his reported meeting with the team. Both of those guys are closer to third round targets, but wouldn’t be considered to be a big reach at #63.
With limited cap space, the majority of which will have to be used to re-sign Nate Solder, the Patriots will have to rebuild their defense largely through the draft. The counter to this argument is obviously to roll with Hoyer for another year and then dip into the college quarterback well in 2019 for a replacement. But I can’t see Belichick being satisfied with that. It’s no secret that he’s been looking for a Brady successor for a while and he was hesitant to give up Garoppolo at the deadline.
Next year’s quarterback class is much weaker and this could be the last opportunity for the Patriots to take a high-end talent for a while. And at the end of the day, it sounds silly, but the benefit of drafting a possible Brady replacement and sitting him down for a couple years could be greater than drafting a starting inside linebacker, solely because of positional value.
Should the Patriots draft a quarterback in the 2018 NFL Draft?
This poll is closed
Yes, in the 1st or 2nd round.
Yes, but in round 3 or later.
No, draft BPA and worry about quarterback next year.