When the New England Patriots were on the clock in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft, they decided to trade their pick to the Los Angeles Chargers. New England moved back from No. 23 to acquire additional selections in the second and third rounds — picks that turned into safety Kyle Dugger and, via another trade, edge linebacker Josh Uche.
The Patriots can feel good about how things unfolded, but last year’s draft still left the number one need on the roster untended: the team did not add to a quarterback group that had lost Tom Brady just one month earlier. At least, they didn’t do so in the real world.
A recent redraft by Bleacher Report’s Brad Gagnon, after all, very much sees New England invest in a QB:
23. New England Patriots: QB Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma
So much for that gamble from the Eagles that Hurts might go un-redrafted. The Patriots were widely considered a good fit for Hurts and a potential suitor for him ahead of last year’s draft, and there’s little reason to believe that would be any different now.
After all, the Oklahoma product put on a show with 106 rushing yards in leading the Eagles to a victory over the New Orleans Saints in his first career start and went on to post eight passing/rushing touchdowns to three interceptions in a short run as Philly’s starter. And that all went down while Cam Newton was wrapping up a disappointing season as New England’s starter.
Newton is back, but he hasn’t been himself for years and is making backup money. With no option for the Pats to trade back here and with the prime offensive linemen and receivers off the board, Hurts is a no-brainer.
Hurts fell out of the first round last spring and eventually landed with the Philadelphia Eagles, who selected him 53rd overall in Round 2. While he initially sat behind starting quarterback Carson Wentz, the youngster took over in mid-December and never looked back: he started the Eagles’ final four games, with Wentz later getting traded to the Indianapolis Colts.
Would he have seen a similar career development in New England? That is hard to tell, especially given that the Patriots were willing to stick with Cam Newton throughout the 2020 season despite his struggles after returning from Covid-19. There is an argument that Hurts, had he been drafted in the first round, would not have seen substantially more playing time than backup Jarrett Stidham.
Of course, it is all speculative. The matter of fact is that New England traded out of the first round and ended up with two intriguing defenders instead of a developmental quarterback.