The quarterback position is pretty low on the New England Patriots’ list of needs at the moment, thanks to one man: Mac Jones. The Patriots drafted Jones 15th overall last offseason, and he quickly earned the starting gig and proved himself an NFL-caliber quarterback.
With the arrow only pointing up for the Alabama product, New England has no urgency to add to a position depth chart that currently looks like this:
- Mac Jones: 23 | Signed through 2024 (pending fifth-year option for 2025)
- Brian Hoyer: 36 | Signed through 2023
- Jarrett Stidham: 25 | Signed through 2022
Jones is the undisputed starter after delivering an impressive first season leading the Patriots’ offense. The team has plenty of faith in him and his development, which means that a) he will serve as QB1 through at least the duration of his rookie contract, and b) New England has virtually no need to add another passer in this year’s draft.
That being said, the depth behind him might get addressed nonetheless. Brian Hoyer, after all, is 36 years old; while he returned on a two-year free agency pact he is clearly on the back-nine of his career. Jarrett Stidham, meanwhile, is entering the final year of his contract and as a result not guaranteed a spot on the roster this season.
With that being said, let’s take a look at some potential Patriots draft targets at the most important position on the field.
N/A: With Mac Jones as the unquestioned QB1 heading into 2022, the Patriots have no need to move up the board to select another first-round passer.
Targets at No. 21
N/A: The Patriots will not be investing another first-round selection at the position anytime soon. Thanks, Mac.
Day 2 targets
N/A: The Patriots have never shied away from adding quarterbacks on Day 2 of the draft even when they had Tom Brady in his prime under contract. That being said, the current depth chart led by Mac Jones and recently re-signed Brian Hoyer suggests that no second- or third-round picks will be used on a QB this year.
Day 3 targets/Free agency targets
Jack Coan, Notre Dame: Coan has the size and some positive traits that will allow him to compete for a spot on an NFL roster. His accuracy over the middle of the field is OK, while he played a mistake-averse game during his time at Wisconsin and Notre Dame. His limitations when forced to go through his reads or deal with pressure limit his ceiling, though.
Zerrick Cooper, Jacksonville State: A better athlete than quarterback, Cooper has a good arm and offers the mobility necessary to succeed in an RPO-based system. That said, his lack of accuracy — he completed just 54 percent of his throws in 2021, for example — will likely prevent him from becoming a starting QB at the next level.
Dustin Crum, Kent State: The last Kent State quarterback drafted by the Patriots turned into a star, but Dustin Crum is not a Julian Edelman-type prospect. The 6-foot-1, 210-pounder lacks elite physical skills to make a position change but also does not have the arm talent to find consistent success versus NFL defenses. That said, his velocity in the short and intermediate game makes him a player worth bringing in as a depth option.
Kaleb Eleby, Western Michigan: At under 6-foot-1 and just 208 pounds, Eleby is undersized by NFL standards and also has a tendency to telegraph his intentions. His live arm and ability to put his receivers in favorable positions are definitive positives, though.
Chase Garbers, California: Garbers’ ceiling in the NFL is essentially Brian Hoyer. He lacks any elite traits, but has some solid size and throws a catchable ball with some accuracy in the short and intermediate parts of the field. With some experience, he can turn into a Hoyer-type backup.
E.J. Perry, Brown: Trying to become just the sixth Ivy League QB selected in an NFL Draft, Perry has a good shot at hearing his name called. He offers some of the best athleticism in this year’s draft among quarterbacks, but has some obvious red flags — from his hand size, to his ball security issues, to a tendency to play “hero ball” — that might hurt him at the next level.
Bailey Zappe, Western Kentucky: Zappe re-wrote the record books at Western Kentucky due to his accuracy, touch and quick release. His size — he is listed at 6-foot-0, 215 pounds — and rather pedestrian arm strength hurt his stock, though, as does the fact he faced little pressure while playing in an Air Raid-style offense. That being said, the 23-year-old has some upside as a developmental late-round prospect.
The Patriots picked a good year to draft a quarterback: the 2021 class, which saw Mac Jones come off the board as the fifth QB at No. 15, was considerably deeper at the top. That does not mean this year’s prospects do not include some intriguing targets as well, just none that have the upside of last year’s group.
New England is therefore in a comfortable position. The team does not need to draft or sign a quarterback this year, but it might still do so to improve the depth behind Jones. If one of the players listed above indeed finds his way to the Patriots, he would likely push Jarrett Stidham for the QB3 spot as a rookie and possibly take over Brian Hoyer’s position as a longer-term backup at one point in the future.
It would therefore not be a surprise to see the Patriots pick another QB even after drafting Mac Jones in 2021. Just don’t expect that quarterback to come off the board any sooner than the fifth or sixth round.