With free agency essentially in the rear-view mirror, the NFL’s attention has shifted towards the draft.
The Patriots have pick No. 23 overall and there hasn’t really been a true consensus among mock drafts of who they will select — or even a position. But, with Tom Brady departing for Tampa Bay, quarterback has been trendy position for the team to select with that pick.
A number of mock drafts have the team picking Utah State’s Jordan Love or Washington’s Jacob Eason, who is not the son of Tony Eason who played quarterback for the Patriots in the 1980s.
The top three quarterbacks in the draft — Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert — will be long gone by the time pick No. 23 comes around. Is it really worth selecting the No. 4 or 5 QB in a class that isn’t exactly outstanding, particularly outside the top three?
Definitely not, especially when the team has so many other greater needs and there’s already a younger quarterback in place with second-year player Jarrett Stidham, who the team selected in Round 4 last year.
It’s assumed the Patriots will be giving Stidham every chance to be the Week 1 starter as he showed quite a bit of promise last summer as a rookie, and also they need to see what they have in him.
Drafting Love or Eason at No. 23 overall would basically be giving up on Stidham and saying he doesn’t have a future as the Patriots’ starting quarterback. How can the Patriots make a full evaluation on him when he only has four career NFL passes to his name?
Clearly, whatever quarterback would be available in Round 1 is not projected as a sure franchise-changing player, so it really does not make any sense to even entertain the idea.
Not only that, the Patriots have so many other positions of greater need that an impact player could be had in the first round.
For starters, look at safety. As it stands now, the Patriots are very old at the position with Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Terrence Brooks, Adrian Phillips and Cody Davis. Someone like Xavier McKinney out of Alabama or Grant Delpit out of LSU would make a ton of sense.
Another position is linebacker. Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins and Elandon Roberts departed via free agency leaving Dont’a Hightower and Ja’Whaun Bentley as the only real true linebackers on the roster. Patrick Queen (LSU) has been a popular name floated in the low-to-mid 20s and could fit in nicely.
Wide receiver is considered to be a historic class and if there’s a great one available at No. 23 that would make a ton of sense too. There’s a need to boost the position not only for 2020, but for the future as well.
Tight end would be a position of much greater need than quarterback, but there’s a chance not a single one gets drafted in the first round. It just isn’t a great class.
Any of the above would benefit the team more than selecting Love or Eason at No. 23.
Now, this doesn’t mean the Patriots shouldn’t look to draft a quarterback at all because with the release of Cody Kessler, there’s just Stidham and Brian Hoyer on the roster. They can’t go into training camp with just two quarterbacks, so looking to draft one in the middle-to-late rounds wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Just look at Jacoby Brissett, who the Patriots selected in the third round two years after drafting Jimmy Garoppolo. Selecting a quarterback in the middle rounds wouldn’t be giving up on Stidham by any means or take away a chance at landing a true impact player. Mid-round picks are usually made on players that have upside, as there aren’t made locks found past Round 2.
Drafting a quarterback in the first round this year would be a gigantic mistake for the Patriots, which is why we shouldn’t expect it to happen.