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2021 Patriots draft profile: Kyle Trask could be a high-functioning backup quarterback for New England

NCAA Football: Cotton Bowl-Florida vs Oklahoma Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots will look at the draft to look for someone to improve the backup quarterback job or someone who can be developed into a starter. They have been linked to Justin Fields, Trey Lance, and Mac Jones in mock drafts by the media and other draft enthusiasts. Given the Patriots needing to expend valuable draft capital to land one of those three names, perhaps they reach a point where the cost is too prohibitive.

At that point, the team will either punt at the position for another year or take someone who they think can push Jarrett Stidham out of a job.

While New England has been linked to Kellen Mond in the pre-draft process, perhaps another SEC QB could be the true target of the team. Enter Kyle Trask, a player with 20 career starts at Florida with pretty good career numbers over that short time period. He was able to make Florida an SEC contender last year and boosted his stock to a late first-/early second-round prospect due to his record-setting 2020season.

Name: Kyle Trask

Position: Quarterback (QB-6)

School: Florida (RS-Senior)

Size: 6’5” 239

2020 Stats: 12 starts, 401-637 (68.9%), 4283 pass yards, 43 TD, 8 INT, 8-4 team record

Expected Draft Range: 2nd Round

Strengths: Trask is a very accurate passer when allowed to operate freely in the pocket. He’s good at figuring where the ball should go once he has a read of the defense, which should improve in New England’s system. He has fairly good size at the QB position and enough arm strength to challenge all three levels of the field. While his ceiling is relatively limited compared to the top tier of QBs (Lawrence, Fields, Wilson, Lance), his skill set could help increase the efficiency of the Patriots offense.

After finally getting the starting job in 2020, Trask made drastic improvements across the board. While playing under one of the top offensive-minded head coaches in college football, Trask was able to post an impressive 43/8 touchdown to interception ratio and averaged 350 passing yards per game.

Weaknesses: Trask isn’t the type of player who can transcend a scheme like Patrick Mahomes or get the scheme he’s in to operate at peak efficiency like Tom Brady. Trask will need to be surrounded by talent at all skill positions and an offensive line that can keep defenders off the spot in the pocket. The Patriots are good at developing good offensive lines, so that’s less of an issue. There is no rushing ability save for short-yardage plays like sneaks or draws. Having Trask as the starting QB will require good play-calling as the team tries to get Trask in a rhythm.

Like with Mac Jones, the question will be if his success is a result of him or the talent he had to throw to at Florida. Kyle Pitts will be a Top 5 pick in the draft and Kadarious Toney would have been a 1st rounder save for off the field flags. Pitts was one of the top mismatches in college football and Toney took the top off opposing defenses.

Why the Patriots should draft him: If Trask is available with the Patriots’ 2nd round pick, he makes a lot of sense as a development player with the ceiling of a mid-tier starter (12th-21st best QB). He is good enough to push Stidham out of the backup role, the question is how effective he would be as a starter. With the Patriots offense emphasizing getting the ball out quickly and let the pass catchers gain yards after the catch, it would be a solid scheme fit for Trask.

Why the Patriots should not draft him: Trask does very little to raise the future ceiling of this football team vs. Cam Newton or Jarrett Stidham. He does raise the floor compared to the other two thanks to his accuracy with a clean pocket, but once in trouble the play is over. His overall rushing value is close to zero and his ability to avoid rushers in the pocket is a bit questionable. Unless the team is 100% sure he’s better than Stidham, then he won’t be drafted by the team. Also I believe he will go between the Patriots first and second round picks.

Who does he have to beat out: Jarrett Stidham, if the goal is to have a development quarterback to compete for at least a backup role. The team will likely carry 2 QBs on the active roster and one on the practice squad. As a top 50 pick, Trask will be on the 2021 roster.

2021 Role: Trask would be the team’s backup to Cam Newton, with the team preparing him to take over as a starter for the next season.

2022 and beyond role: The plan would be to develop Trask as the team’s next starting QB in 2022. Trask will benefit from throwing to Nelson Agholor, Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith, and Kendrick Bourne in the offense. In order to make sure his development goes without a hitch, the team will also need to keep Josh McDaniels in the fold and prevent him from going elsewhere. McDaniels catches a lot of flak on this page, but he’s still the right guy for the OC job.

Verdict: Drafting Kyle Trask is more about raising the floor than ceiling of the quarterback room. Either he plays above his projected draft ceiling or he buys the team some time before looking for the next franchise quarterback. Trask’s ability to get rid of the ball quickly translates well to the Patriots offense despite being easily beaten when interior pressure gets home. In order to make him a viable starting QB, he will need to have great talent surrounding him.