To the chagrin of 31 NFL franchises, Tom Brady is set to come back for another Super Bowl run in 2019. Based on the way he played last year, it doesn't look like the future Hall of Famer has any intention of slowing down. However, as we've talked about every offseason for the last half decade, Brady is getting old. He will be 42 years old when the 2019 season kicks off. Whether he likes it or not, his career is coming to a close. With that in mind, the Patriots need to be looking for his replacement.
Personally, I believe the Patriots should win another Super Bowl in 2019, let Brady retire, tank in 2020, and use the number one overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft to pick Trevor Lawrence and start the dynasty over.
Unfortunately, that scenario is not entirely likely. That means that New England should be looking at other options to hopefully find the heir apparent to Brady. This year's quarterback class is not nearly as strong as last year's or next year's. Because of that, the Patriots could wait until the middle of the draft to grab a solid backup quarterback for the 2019 season, while planning to select their next franchise QB in the 2020 draft.
However, for our purposes, we are going to assume that New England is going to select a QB within the first three rounds. Let's go through some of the prospects that New England could wind up with.
- Kyler Murray, Oklahoma: Just kidding, he's going to end up stuck in Oakland with John Gruden. Poor kid.
- Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State: The Ohio State standout is unlikely to be an option for the Patriots. Many analysts have him going within the top 10-15 picks. However, let's do our due diligence because you never know. Haskins has an absolute cannon for an arm that comes with an effortless motion. Beyond the punch, his throw also packs impressive accuracy. He had immense success at Ohio State last year, throwing for 50 touchdowns and just under 5000 yards. His mobility and his lack of experience are areas that will concern NFL teams. He may or may not have the "it" factor that can take a franchise to another level.
- Drew Lock, Missouri: Widely considered to be the next best prospect after Haskins, Lock has the prototypical size and strength of an NFL quarterback. His arm talent is up there with anyone, with an impressive deep ball ability. He also has a rapid release to get the ball out quickly. Lock's most concerning issue is a disturbing lack of accuracy. He had his most accurate season in 2018, and still couldn't even top a 63% completion percentage. On top of that, his performance against better teams has been spotty at best. New England would do well to stay away from Lock.
- Daniel Jones, Duke: In a different season, Jones would be a second or third round quarterback. In this year's weaker class, he is getting first-round buzz and will likely not reach the Patriots at 32 overall. Jones is not an untalented player. He is a good passer with decent arm talent. His accuracy is fantastic, and his ability to mix between a fastball and a soft touch is impressive.
Jones' career completion percentage was only 59.9%, but this was largely due to an utter lack of a surrounding cast of characters. He also has a high football IQ and can read defenses exceptionally well. Despite some positive traits, however, there is not much in his tape that shows Jones to be a true franchise quarterback. He may not be a bad option if he falls to New England because of their ability to maximize smart, accurate quarterbacks rather than gunslingers.
- Ryan Finley, North Carolina State: A mid-to-late round selection, Finley could be a young improvement over Brian Hoyer as Brady's backup. His accuracy and intelligence made him an above average starter at NC State. He also has solid mobility and can beat blitzes with his feet and his eyes. However, Finley is likely to be little more than a game manager, with a lack of serious arm talent and an uninspiring ability to perform against top talent. New England could explore Finely as a third-fifth round option.
- Will Grier, West Virginia: My personal favorite quarterback prospect, Grier has been wildly underrated throughout the pre-draft process. This has much to do with lackluster Senior Bowl and combine performances. However, Grier is the most experienced quarterback in the draft, with a solid skill set. His biggest issues are underwhelming arm talent and an occasional attempt to be the hero in a situation rather than just getting rid of the ball.
On the other hand, his accuracy is excellent. He has a career completion percentage of 65.5%, better than any of the other top prospects in the draft. Grier also performs very well in the pre-snap process, diagnosing opposing defenses. Most importantly, he is a great locker room presence with a Baker Mayfield-eqsue competitive nature. Grier may not have the most physical talent in the draft, but his accuracy and competitive nature could make him the perfect quarterback to develop behind Tom Brady.