With the 2018 NFL draft on tap next week, PFW will offer a capsule look at each position in the coming days. Today we look at quarterbacks.
Patriots need: Depending on how seriously the drama surrounding Tom Brady and his future is taken, the Patriots need for a quarterback varies between significant and urgent. Even if Brady repeats his MVP-performance of a year ago in 2018, his age cannot be ignored and Bill Belichick will likely want to find his potential replacement at some point. With a pair of picks in each of the first two rounds, he'll have the capital to move around to find the one he wants. Assuming Brady performs near his normal levels, the rookie would then be given the luxury of developing behind the GOAT for a couple of years.
High-end options: There could be as many as six quarterbacks selected in the first round with USC's Sam Darnold, Wyoming's Josh Allen, UCLA's Josh Rosen, Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield, Louisville's Lamar Jackson and Oklahoma State's Mason Rudolph all possibilities. Opinions vary on the overall quality of the group but most believe Darnold to be at the top of the list while Allen possesses the best physical skills of the lot. Rosen has drawn some questions about his attitude while Mayfield and Jackson have been polarizing prospects for different reasons. Mayfield is undersized at 6-1 but showed an accurate arm during his Heisman Trophy campaign for the Sooners. He also showed some immaturity on and off the field at times with his fiery personality rubbing some the wrong way. Jackson is the most dynamic athlete of the bunch but has had his accuracy as a passer questioned, most notably by former Colt GM Bill Polian, who suggested he move to wide receiver. Rudolph could fall to the second round but had tremendous production operating out of a spread attack in the Big 12. The top four could go in the top 10 (or higher) and would obviously require a major trade for the Patriots to get in position to grab one.
Mid-round value: Furth down the board there are a few developmental prospects to keep an eye on. Washington State's Luke Falk, Western Kentucky's Mike White and Richmond's Kyle Lauletta have all drawn attention from the Patriots this spring. Falk has loads of experience but played in a system that hasn't yielded much in the way of NFL success under coach Mike Leach, who previously worked with several prolific passers at Texas Tech who couldn't make the transition. White began his career at South Florida before enjoying a solid career at WKU while Lauletta has been the darling of Patriots fans for weeks due to his lacrosse background and the fact that his father played at Navy. He has some ability but appears to be a bit raw.
Prediction: A lot could change given the importance of the position and the extra picks the Patriots have at their disposal. Recent reports have tied New England to Rosen, Mayfield and Jackson, as well as Falk, so as usual the team has done a great job of keeping everyone guessing. If a trade is made it would likely be for Mayfield, but the call here is for White somewhere in Day 2.