Patriots Draft Prospects: Quarterbacks
The trade of Jimmy Garoppolo last season made it clear that the Patriots are committed to Tom Brady for the next few seasons as they try to win another championship or two with their Hall of Fame coach and quarterback. However, that does not mean that they are not looking to the future. Behind Brady on the depth chart is Brian Hoyer, a 32-year-old perennial backup who might just be able to keep the team afloat if Brady goes down this season, but is certainly not the team’s future. It is very likely that New England looks to draft Tom Brady’s successor in this draft, so as to give the new quarterback a few developmental years behind the GOAT to prepare for when Brady finally exits center stage.
When New England traded for the Rams first round pick, some initially thought this meant that the Patriots were going to target a quarterback in the first round. While that is not out of the round of possibility, I wouldn’t describe it as “likely”. There is a decent possibility that all five of the top quarterbacks are selected in the first 15-20 picks. Some believe that the Patriots might try to package their picks and trade up to snag a quarterback, but I find that unlikely. With Brady still at the helm, the team does not need to jump at a quarterback unless they are 100% certain that someone is a sure thing. They have other holes on the team that need to be filled, and there is enough quarterback talent on the board to allow them to find a good option in the second round.
Personally, Baker Mayfield is my favorite top-five quarterback; he’s incredibly tough and plays with ferocity. He also has a big-play arm and impressive accuracy and has shown an ability to play in big moments. However, Mayfield is likely to go in the top 10, considering Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, and Josh Allen. There is only one real first-round option for the Patriots, and that is Louisville’s, Lamar Jackson.
The three-year Cardinal starter and Heisman Trophy winner was a revelation in college, tearing defenses apart with both his arm and his legs. The dual-threat quarterback threw for over 3500 yards and 27 touchdowns in each of the past two seasons, as well as running for over 1500 yards and 18 touchdowns per season. Some knock him for his slightly low completion percentage, but his numbers are similar to that of Josh Allen who many think may go number one overall to the Browns. Jackson would be a different quarterback than the Patriots are used to, as he likes to be as dangerous with his feet as he does with his arm. However, the Patriots have reportedly been interested in him, likely due to his intensity, poise, and big-play ability. He has also been described as a high-character player, something that New England values immensely.
Unfortunately for New England, it is unlikely that Jackson falls to 23, as multiple teams have interest in the quarterback. The level of interest that the Patriots have in Jackson is also unclear, so it’s impossible to determine whether or not the team will try to trade up for him.
Two more likely second or third round options for the Patriots are Richmond’s Kyle Lauletta and Washington State’s Luke Falk.
Lauletta was a three-year starter at Richmond, averaging over 3400 yards and 23.5 touchdowns per season to go along with a career completion percentage of 63.5. He is a great decision maker and leader who has improved throughout his time in college. He has above average accuracy in short to intermediate throws and has proven himself to be a good decision-maker. The most significant knock on Lauletta is that he lacks impressive arm strength. While this is certainly an issue that could cause problems in the NFL, the Patriots, in particular, don’t run an offense predicated on deep throws. New England’s focus on intermediate timing routes could mask some of Lauletta’s most glaring issues while he develops his game to fit the NFL level. Lauletta may also receive special attention from New England because of his Navy connections (his father played quarterback for Navy in the 80s), which is always a special point of interest for Bill Belichick, as Belichick’s father was a longtime coach at Navy.
Falk was a three-year starter for Washington St, averaging over 4000 yards and 35 touchdowns per season to go along with an absurd 68.8% career completion percentage. He has a quick throw and impressive accuracy that made him a resounding success in the PAC-12. Similar to Lauletta, one of the most prominent issues with Falk’s game is inconsistent and sometimes underwhelming arm strength. However, his ridiculously high completion percentage and success with timing routes makes him a near-perfect fit behind Tom Brady. Outside of 2007 with Randy Moss, Brady has never been a prolific deep ball passer. His game is predicated on intelligence and incomparable accuracy. Brady excels at timing routes, as seen with his success over the past few seasons with Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, and even Rob Gronkowski (Gronk doesn’t run as many timing routes as the slot receivers, but still does from time to time). Falk would also benefit from having stable protection in the pocket, something that he lacked throughout his time at Washington St.
Neither of these quarterbacks is considered top end talent, but neither were Tom Brady or Jimmy Garoppolo coming out of college. The Patriots have more important short and long-term needs to fill with their first-round selections and are unlikely to use a first-round pick on a quarterback unless one takes a dramatic fall. Lauletta and Falk are both good second or even third round options that have skill sets that fit New England’s system. A few years of development behind Tom Brady could mold them into good, if not great NFL starters. Out of the two, I would find it more likely that the Patriots select Falk due to his accuracy and pedigree against better competition.
While I think it is very likely, selecting a quarterback is not a guarantee for New England. If there are other players at other positions still on the board that they covet, the team will pass on a quarterback. However, Tom Brady’s age and rapidly closing window have made quarterback a higher priority than in the past.
Until next time – B$