2018 NFL Draft: Quarterbacks on the Patriots radar

 

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Louisville QB Lamar Jackson | Photo via Alton Strupp/The CJ

As we approach the 2018 NFL Draft, a topic on the mind of many Patriots fans is what the team will do regarding the quarterback position.  Obviously the club has the greatest quarterback of all-time for the foreseeable future (this season); after 2018… who knows. New England previously has a great plan for the future with 2014 second round draft pick Jimmy Garoppolo.  Jimmy G filled in admirably in the interim for Brady in 2016 (before his injury) and proved to many he had what it takes to be the heir to Tom.

 

Unfortunately, that plan will not come to fruition.

 

As Garoppolo entered the final year of his rookie contract, Tom Brady, at age 40, was playing at an MVP level for the Patriots, leading the team to a 6-2 record at the halfway point of the 2017 season.  Then, to the shock of many, Jimmy Garoppolo was traded to the San Francisco 49ers. What seemed like a seamless transition plan (New England’s equivalent of Favre to Rodgers) quickly went out the window.  

 

Now, as the Patriots enter the 2018 season, their quarterback is 41 years old.  Although he has no intentions of retiring any soon, logic would say having a young quarterback in place to learn the system would be ideal.  A cost-controlled and talented player could learn behind the greatest, be around in case of an injury to Brady, and would provide New England with a new succession plan for that inevitable moment when Tom Brady is no longer playing.

Before we get into it, here’s a list of the current draft picks the Patriots have in 2018:

Round 1, Pick 23 (23rd overall) – From Los Angeles Rams

Round 1, Pick 31 (31st overall) – Assigned Selection

Round 2, Pick 11 (43rd overall) – From San Francisco

Round 2, Pick 31 (63rd overall) – Assigned Selection

Round 3, Pick 31 (95th overall) – Assigned Selection

Round 6, Pick 24 (198th overall) – From Los Angeles Rams

Round 6, Pick 36 (210th overall) – From Oakland

Round 7, Pick 1 (219th overall) – From Cleveland

The team has plenty of capital in the first two rounds of the draft.  If they wanted to, they have all the resources they need to make a trade into the top 5 of the draft.  Knowing Bill Belichick, I simply do not think that will occur. He found Tom Brady in the sixth round, and Garoppolo in the second round.  Necessity may have played a role in this, due to the fact that Belichick inherited a franchise QB in Drew Bledsoe when he became the head coach in 2000 (and there has not been a need at QB since Brady took over in 2001), but even when he was the head coach in Cleveland (1991-1995), Bill never drafted a QB in the first round.  

 

With this in mind, if a quarterback is to be selected, I think it will come in the second round.  Nevertheless, I will go over the quarterbacks that have been tied to New England (regardless of the likelihood we pick them) and see if it would be in the best interest of the Patriots to develop said QB to be the heir to Tom Brady.

Josh Rosen

Arizona State v UCLA
Sean Haffrey/Getty Images

Height: 6 ft 4 in

Weight: 218 lbs.

QB Rating: 140.1

Completion Percentage: 60.9%

 

A few weeks ago it was Baker Mayfield who the Patriots were “infatuated with,” but now it seems to be Josh Rosen.  Could it be a much of smoke to keep teams off their toes? Absolutely.  But before I let that theory go, let it be know there have been murmurs that Rosen could fall, and if he is available at 9, the Patriots could have enough assets to move up and take their next franchise QB.

 

Rosen would be all of that and more, and it would be a miracle if he were available.  Rosen is the second best QB in the draft, and I would argue he has the lowest bust potential out of this class.  Darnold, Allen, and even Lamar Jackson could end up being better, but I think Rosen is the safest pick. Do not let his “outside interests” fool you, he is a great player.  We are in an era where athletes are continuing to strive to have interests outside of their sports (see Myles Garrett and Jaylen Brown), yet, as FOX News would like to tell you, that seems to be a no-no.  

 

I know Belichick does not care about that.  He would love to get his hands on Rosen, but I think the cost would be too much.  Bill has a bounty of picks at his disposal, and a true opportunity to replenish his roster for the long-term.  Quarterback is the most important investment you make in this league, but I ultimately believe Bill will have other options at the position, and the other needs of his roster outweigh going all-in at the CHANCE to land Josh Rosen.

 

Lamar Jackson

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Melina Vastola/USA TODAY Sports

Height: 6 ft 3 in

Weight: 211 lbs.

QB Rating: 142.9

Completion Percentage: 57%

 

Lamar Jackson was simply a stud during his time at Louisville.  Playing for a school historically not known for its football success, Jackson won the Heisman in 2016, and put up Heisman caliber numbers in 2017.  In addition to moving around and making plays with his feet, Jackson has a rocket arm, one he used just as much. He did a lot that many did not expect to see, and also do not appreciate.

 

Picking college quarterbacks that will be successful is a difficult game.  

 

A lot of what Jackson was doing at Louisville, you could argue someone like Baker Mayfield was doing better at Oklahoma.  I understand why Mayfield is rated higher than Jackson in mock drafts, but I think Jackson has a higher ceiling.

 

I think there is something to being successful at a school where the talent may not be as good.  Louisville certainly was not as talented as Louisville, yet Jackson put the Cardinals in a great position in 2016 and 2017.  He is a dynamic player, and has the tools (and stature) to be a successful pro.

 

His completion percentage concerns me a bit, but it’s risen each year he was at Louisville.  I think if you put Jackson in the right system, he can be a regular starter in the league. Mayfield also has this same ceiling in my eyes but given the chance to develop a quarterback for at least one season in the Patriots system, if I were Bill Belichick, I would rather have Lamar Jackson.

 

If recent reports are any indication, New Enlgand’s interest in Jackson is real.  We will see.

 

Mason Rudolph

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Sue Ogrocki/AP

 

Height: 6 ft 5 in

Weight: 230 lbs.

QB rating: 159.3

Completion percentage: 63.1%

 

Mason Rudolph is a big boy.  Out of the quarterbacks linked to the Patriots thus far, Rudolph probably has the most ideal body you would like to see from a developmental project.  That alone gives him value.

 

He led Oklahoma State to 10 wins each year he was the starter, and his completion percentage and QB rating rose each year as well.  These are both positives in his favor.

 

For me, seeing a quarterback in an air raid offense, I would expect some higher (inflated) numbers, so that is a bit of concern.  I will not hold this against him, as by the time he was a senior, he was putting up stellar numbers. His interceptions rose in 2017 compared to 2016, but overall, Rudolph showed he can progress, an under-appreciated trait in college

 

Rudolph will not be ready in year 1 and is a level behind Jackson… but if you had to go to the lab and create the body of a quarterback, he would be Rudolph’s height and weight.

 

He requires more work than Jackson and Mayfield, but the Patriots have the luxury of at least one year to work with him.  My question (as with each QB presented this far): is he worth a first round pick? I would say other needs are more pressing, but I would not complain if he were picked at 31

 

Kyle Lauletta

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Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

 

Height: 6 ft 3 in

Weight: 222 lbs.

QB rating: 151.4

Completion Percentage: 63.5%

 

Kyle Lauletta has already been called the next Jimmy Garoppolo.  Lauletta went to an FCS school, has an ideal body frame (an inch taller than Jimmy G), and started for three seasons.  

 

Lauletta, like Mason Rudolph, progressed throughout his time as the starter.  Each year he through more touchdowns and completed passes at a higher rating. Jimmy G also progressed along similar lines throughout his time in college.  

 

Being in the FCS means Lauletta was not as talented going into college as others, but that has not stopped him from appearing on draft boards.  Being in the FCS, and catching the attention of NFL teams, typically means you have better tools than similarly graded players. Less attention and inferior talent/competition means you must work twice as hard than FBS quarterbacks to make an impression.  

 

This has not stopped FCS quarterbacks from making a mark in the pros.  Carson Wentz went to North Dakota State, and prior to his injury, was the leading candidate for MVP.  He was the second pick in the 2016, a pick that came with much caution. Wentz has proven the naysayers wrong, establishing himself as an elite QB in this league.

 

Other QBs with an FCS background include Joe Flacco, a starter in this league for a decade (an alum of Delaware).  CBS commentator Tony Romo also went to an FCS school (Eastern Illinois).

 

Lauletta is absolutely a project and would not be ready on Day 1 in the NFL.  He needs time to develop. Unlike the first three quarterbacks, Lauletta is expected to go in the middle of the draft (rounds 3-5).  Drafting Lauletta would allow the Patriots to use their first and second round picks on other, more pressing needs.  The fact he has caught the eyes of so many, and won the Senior Bowl MVP, are net positives, but his body of work still translates into a project.  He will take more work than the other QBs listed, and might have less of a ceiling, but he should be available at an ideal time, and has the best ceiling given his draft position.

He’s worth a flyer.

Some final names to remember:

Mike White, Western Kentucky (6’4, 225 lbs.)

“Obsessed” with Tom Brady, and a huge arm

 

Logan Whiteside, Toledo (6’2, 201 lbs.)

Another small-school prospect.  Does he have the body to withstand NFL defenses?

 

Luke Falk, Washington State (6’4 203 lbs.)

A fan of Tom Brady (and the TB12 method), do you trust a QB from the Mike Leach air-raid, pass-happy offense?

by Nick Collins