EDIT: The Jaguars just acquired Kessler for a conditional seventh round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. The article still stands. Maybe even more than before.
The New England Patriots absolutely need to add another quarterback to the roster this offseason. Tom Brady is the reigning MVP and Brian Hoyer is entrenched as the back-up, but there needs to be some youth at the position.
I propose Cleveland Browns back-up quarterback Cody Kessler.
The Patriots could very well draft a quarterback and that would be fine, too. But I expect Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, and Baker Mayfield to be gone in the top ten and for Mason Rudolph to be off the board before the 31st overall pick. I love Lamar Jackson as a prospect and think he would be great in New England, but I don’t see Bill Belichick and company drafting him.
There is also some potential in the next tier of quarterbacks, like Kyle Lauletta, Mike White, Luke Falk, and Logan Woodside, but they’re all a gamble.
So why not invest a similar late-round pick in a more proven player?
The Browns acquired Tyrod Taylor and Drew Stanton this offseason and Kessler was behind Kevin Hogan on the depth chart last year. Cleveland also has two picks in the top four and are expected to add another quarterback in the dratf.
Essentially, Kessler doesn’t have a roster spot in Cleveland and that’s why the Browns are looking to trade him. Fortunately for interested teams, everyone knows that Kessler doesn’t have a roster spot and should be available for pretty cheap.
The Vikings acquired Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian and a 2018 seventh round pick for a future 2019 fifth round pick and he’s worth a lot more on the market. The Patriots could probably trade a conditional sixth or a future seventh for Kessler- which is a pretty great opportunity for New England.
I won’t hide it- I thought Kessler was a great fit for New England ahead of the 2016 draft, when the Patriots instead drafted Jacoby Brissett. Kessler was the most accurate passer in that draft class and it carried into his rookie season, especially when under pressure.
Most-accurate QBs under pressure this season (by adjusted completion %):— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) October 25, 2016
1. Tom Brady, 95.0%
2. Cody Kessler, 84.4%
3. Derek Carr, 75.5% pic.twitter.com/Mw5ojnYFuN
Kessler has a quick release, is able to go through his reads, and can make most throws on the field.
There were some concerns about his arm strength deep down the field, which is fair, but you show me an accurate quarterback that can handle pressure and I’ll show you a player that can thrive under Josh McDaniels.
Kessler completed 65.6% of his passes in 2016 for 1,380 yards, 6 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions for a passer rating of 92.3- extremely respectable for a rookie in Cleveland. He suffered an unfortunate injury early against the Patriots in week 5 of the regular season, but finished the day 5 of 8 for 62 yards and 1 touchdown, giving Belichick a first-hand showing of his potential.
I would take Kessler over any incoming rookie other than the five quarterbacks I mentioned previously (Darnold, Rosen, Mayfield, Rudolph, Jackson). He still has two years on his contract so the Patriots could get a look in 2018 and decide whether they want to keep Kessler or Hoyer in 2019- and it would buy time for the Patriots in case they don’t get a quarterback of their choice this draft.