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2018 NFL draft: Patriots quietly hosted Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson on a pre-draft visit two weeks ago

New England has taken a close look at the likely first-rounder.

NCAA Football: TaxSlayer Bowl-Louisville vs Mississippi State Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots enter the 2018 NFL draft with some holes to fill on offense and defense. One of those is the developmental backup quarterback spot which was manned by Jimmy Garoppolo until he was traded to the San Francisco 49ers at the trade deadline last year. Since then, Brian Hoyer served as the lone backup behind Tom Brady – an experienced option but no long-term player to count on.

The Patriots might therefore look at the draft to add to the position and one potential target is Louisville's Lamar Jackson, who visited New England on a top-30 visit two weeks ago as NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported earlier today. Jackson, of course, is projected to come off the draft board as early as the middle of the first round – an area where the Patriots are currently positioned with the 23rd overall pick.

Jackson certainly is one of the most intriguing players in the draft, not just for a Patriots team that is reportedly “intrigued and impressed” with the quarterback. The youngest player to ever win the Heisman Trophy, Jackson has been the Cardinals’ primary quarterback for the past three years. A prolific player throughout his career, the 6’2, 215 lbs dual-threat carried the football 232 times in 2017, gaining 1,601 yards and scoring 18 times.

While his passing numbers were less impressive – he completed 59.1% of his throws for 3,660 yards, 27 touchdowns and 10 interceptions –, Jackson still got the job done: Playing in an offense similar to New England’s, he displayed a strong arm, an ability to diagnose coverages and a solid understanding of play development. In short: The 21-year old has a lo of the traits the Patriots are looking for in their quarterbacks.

Whether or not this will actually make the team invest a first-round selection in Jackson remains to be seen. After all, Jackson needs time and work to turn into a quality starter at the next level. However, he is a developmental option that could field tremendous results further down the line. This plus the reported interest on New England's part could very well make him a target with the 23rd selection later this week.