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2018 NFL draft: If Patriots go quarterback at No. 23, a little trivia would follow

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1979 was the last time a quarterback went where New England’s top pick currently stands.

NFL: New England Patriots at Oakland Raiders Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There have been 89 quarterbacks taken in the first round of the spring’s NFL draft since 1979, according to Pro Football Reference, and another eight can be tacked on if accounting for supplemental selections.

Only one has been taken in the spot the New England Patriots acquired from the Los Angeles Rams last week.

That quarterback was Clemson’s Steve Fuller, who went No. 23 overall to the Kansas City Chiefs and spent seven seasons in the league, earning a Super Bowl ring as the backup to Jim McMahon on the 1985 Chicago Bears team that defeated New England by 36 points.

It’s been awhile.

There were 28 NFL franchises when Fuller’s draft card was filled out. The Indianapolis Colts were in Baltimore, the Cardinals were in St. Louis, the Titans were the Oilers in Houston and the Rams were, well, in Los Angeles. But while time has had its way over the last four decades – and while there are a handful of first-round spots that haven’t included a quarterback since then – no other passer has heard their name called where Fuller had his, either.

And no post-merger one had before him.

Perhaps the Patriots will end that draught of draft trivia at No. 23 in the coming weeks. Perhaps, though, is the operative word.

The league’s reigning MVP in Tom Brady will turn 41 years old in August and is currently under contract with a pair of salary-cap hits at $22 million through 2019. Brian Hoyer, at 32 himself, is the lone other quarterback on the roster and didn’t rejoin it until last November.

That’s left the Patriots practicing mindfulness under center.

The last two signal-callers drafted by New England, Jimmy Garoppolo in 2014 and Jacoby Brissett in 2016, were elsewhere when the leaves changed color and dropped from the trees last season. And although the war room has drafted nine quarterbacks since Bill Belichick returned to it as head coach in 2000, it wasn’t until Garoppolo surfaced out of Eastern Illinois that the Patriots invested as high as a late second-round pick on one.

Again, that top Rams pick from last Tuesday’s Brandin Cooks trade could make for a bit of history.

But could, like perhaps, is operative here.

Also scheduled to pick at No. 31 overall – as well as twice in the second round and once in the third – the Patriots have the capital to mortgage if Belichick and director of player personnel Nick Caserio so choose. That capital could be used to move up for a quarterback, providing one of their preferred targets starts to slip. Then again, with USC’s Sam Darnold, UCLA’s Josh Rosen, Wyoming’s Josh Allen and Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield all projected to be selected in the top-third of the first round, the best value move might be not moving at all.

The next tier of quarterback prospects consists of Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph and Richmond’s Kyle Lauletta.

Would the Patriots’ vertical and horizontal boards align for one of them as early as pick 23? If the organization felt one was worth taking at pick 31, that probably wouldn’t change eight slots earlier.

There’s no shortage of hypotheticals.

Would a harder-to-reach quarterback who’d likely sit for two seasons be worth trading up for – and at the expense of missing out on potential immediate impact at another position? Would it make more sense to continue living for today by using the Rams’ pick to address linebacker, defensive end, left tackle or other depth that was hemmed in free agency?

Time will tell how the Patriots answer those questions on the night of April 26.

But Fuller, who passed for 28 touchdowns to go with 41 interceptions in his career and added 11 more TDs rushing, is the last QB to go at 23 – at least for now. And should New England end up staying put there for a player who doesn’t throw the football, history suggests the results might not turn out too bad.

Just ask cornerback Ty Law and tackle Bruce Armstrong.

Both saw 22 players drafted before them in 1995 and 1987, respectively. Both now reside in The Hall at Patriot Place.