The Patriots don't need to draft a quarterback

cp-spark-training-camp-quarterbacks-021518x.jpg
USA TODAY Sports Photo

The Patriots don't need to draft a quarterback

The Patriots' No. 1 priority as it relates to player personnel should be cultivating a stable longterm future at quarterback. Nobody should feel otherwise. 

Yet it's in thinking that where people may fall into an understandable, albeit not necessarily correct line of thinking: That the Patriots need to draft a quarterback this year.

They don't.

DEPTH CHART

In fact, I'd go as far as to say that unless there's a guy available to them they absolutely love and [every general manager in the history of the world voice] never thought would be there, they shouldn't take a quarterback in the early rounds this year. 

The reasons to go for a QB in this draft are clear: Tom Brady is old as hell and this quarterback class is considered strong, with Sports Illustrated putting five signal-callers in its top 30 players this year. Here are the reasons not to go for one. 

THEY JUST GAVE UP 41 POINTS IN THE SUPER BOWL

Could have also called this one "They have other needs." New England has 2 of the first 42 picks and 3 of the first 63 this year (Nos. 31, 42 and 63). The Pats certainly need some young talent in the front seven and could stand to look into a replacement for Malcolm Butler. That's without the potential crisis on the offensive line that could arise should Nate Solder retire or cash in elsewhere.  

IT MIGHT FORCE THEM TO GIVE UP A LOT (OR REACH)

The Patriots' biggest mistake with Jimmy Garoppolo (other than trading him for an autographed picture of Jimmy Garoppolo) was not taking him in the first round. By taking him in the second round instead of the first, the Pats locked themselves into his rookie contract being four years and not a potential five. Hindsight's 20-20, but if the Pats took Jimmy G at No. 29 in 2014 instead of the since-released Dominique Easley, they might have had another year to figure out a way to make him Brady's successor. 

Say Brady's going to play at least another two seasons, which is a safe assumption. If you take the next guy after the first round, you've got to pay him pretty early on in his tenure as starter. That's not a major problem, but it's worth keeping in mind. 

If the Patriots want to make sure they have the next guy for a little longer by taking a QB in the first round, they might be forced into two suboptimal situations: Trade up (thus spending assets they might have otherwise used on the team's more immediate needs) or reach for a player at the end of the first. They shouldn't do either.

THERE'S ALWAYS NEXT YEAR (OR EVEN AFTER)

If the team envisions itself trying to bring in a top quarterback prospect, they might execute a trick they used in 2003 and 2007: Trade a first-round pick for a future first in hopes of getting an overall higher selection. 

If the Pats trade the 31st pick for a mediocre team's pick next year -- a scenario that might not necessarily present itself, but definitely did with the 49ers back in the day -- they could use their second-round picks for defensive help while positioning themselves to have two first-rounders next season. At the very least, they could package those picks if there's a guy they like in 2019, or maybe they could just take a guy in that first round without having to move up at all. 

Putting off drafting the next guy would certainly mean the player would have less time in the team's system. But if we're talking about getting a real top prospect type of player, it's worth keeping in mind that this isn't 1994. Rookie quarterbacks start all the time, and the good ones even have success.

The Patriots aren't aren't as bad at drafting quarterbacks as their reputation might suggest. Of the QBs they've drafted in the first three rounds under Bill Belichick -- Kevin O'Connell, Ryan Mallett, Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett -- only the O'Connell was inexcusable. Mallett was a risk they could afford to take, Garoppolo was a stud and Brissett might prove to be better than they even believed. 

So do the Patriots need to find their quarterback of the future? Of course. They just don't need to do it this offseason. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Is it time for Patriots to find The Next Guy?

Is it time for Patriots to find The Next Guy?

Before free agency kicks off, and before we dissect the top college prospects entering this year's draft, we're taking a look at the Patriots on a position-by-position basis to provide you with an offseason primer of sorts. We'll be analyzing how the Patriots performed in 2017 at the position in question, who's under contract, how badly the team needs to add talent at that spot, and how exactly Bill Belichick might go about adding that talent. Today we're tackling the position that just might make this the most important draft season in Patriots history: Quarterback.

OTHER ENTRIES IN THE SERIES

 

HOW THEY PERFORMED


Tom Brady was the NFL MVP for the third time and his play at 40 years old might just give the Patriots the leeway to wait another year to draft The Next Guy. The argument could be made - and should be made, in my opinion - that the Patriots need to draft a quarterback this spring. But given the way Brady looked, if the right player isn't there this time around, the Patriots could wait until next year and they'd still probably be OK at the most important position at the roster. Despite taking a beating early in the season, and despite battling through a variety of injuries throughout the season, Brady led the league in passing yardage and was third when it came to QB rating. He was fifth in completion percentage and fifth in yards per attempt. He's said before he'll retire when he sucks. He's a long way off. 

WHO IS UNDER CONTRACT FOR 2018?


Brady, Brian Hoyer

 

HOW DIRE IS THE NEED?

 


The severity of the need all depends on the window of time you're looking at. Do they need a quarterback tomorrow? Of course not. But don't kid yourself. They need one. And soon. If the Patriots can figure out a way to get Nate Solder back in the fold, adding a promising young player at this spot should shoot to the top of the offseason's to do list. Even without Solder, because of the importance of the QB position, the Patriots may believe finding Brady's eventual successor is the key to the offseason. Drafting a quarterback in the first round this season would give the Patriots a passer under contract through 2022. Brady will turn 45 years old that summer.

 

WHAT'S AVAILABLE IN FREE AGENCY?

 


Man, is it going to be fun to talk about this position this offseason. Things got weird when Washington traded for Alex Smith and handed him a long-term extension with the former Niners and Chiefs QB. That means Kirk Cousins would certainly be on his way to a new city in a matter of months. And things should only get weirder from there. All three Vikings quarterbacks -- Case Keenum, Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater -- are scheduled to hit free agency. Nick Foles is under contract in Philly but could be made available in a trade. Drew Brees, meanwhile, is scheduled to become a free agent as well. What's it all mean for the Patriots? They probably won't be interested in veteran passers, but where the above names land will alter the league-wide landscape when it comes to draft weekend. And because this is expected to be one of the deepest quarterback drafts in years, the Patriots could benefit if, after all the movement, a talented rookie signal-caller ends up falling into their laps. 

 

WHAT'S AVAILABLE IN THE DRAFT?

 


Where to start? Want the most statistically accomplished quarterback in the history of college football? Someone with big-time leadership skills and an outsized (at times abrasive) personality to match? That's Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield. USC's Sam Darnold may have the highest ceiling of any passer in this class. UCLA's Josh Rosen throws a pretty ball but there are questions as to how he'll move at the next level. Wyoming's Josh Allen looks like he was built in a quarterback lab, but his accuracy is all over the map. Louisville's Lamar Jackson is the most talented runner at the position since Michael Vick, but his mechanics could use some cleaning up, and he'll need the right scheme in order to succeed. All of those players could be gone in the first round. And four of those six could be gone in the top six picks. If you're the Patriots, that might be OK. Oklahoma State's Mason Rudolph, Washington State's Luke Falk, Western Kentucky's Mike White and Richmond's Kyle Lauletta could be available on Day 2 and may represent good value in the eyes of Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio. 

 

HOW CAN THE PATRIOTS ADDRESS IT?

 


This just might be the most important draft in Patriots history. It’s bigger than 1993, I think, back when the choice was Drew Bledsoe or Rick Mirer. The Patriots couldn't screw that one up. But that was about becoming competitive. Every decision the Patriots make now is about trying to extend their unparalleled run. Without the No. 1 overall pick, the current challenge is greater. It's certainly greater than it was back in 2014, when they drafted Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round. Back then, they knew they had some breathing room to develop Brady's successor. Now, even though Brady just won the MVP, that window has been minimized. The team can’t bank on Brady making it to 45. The choice has to be to make a contingency plan, and to make it quickly, with a young player who the team believes has the intelligence, the arm and the leadership to be The Next Guy. He'll also need the requisite poise not to be shaken when he’s dubbed The Next Guy. Lump all of those things together, and that player will be hard to find - even in a loaded quarterback class - so how do the Patriots make sure they get him? Use a first-round pick, if they have to. Trade up, if they have to. The Patriots may be certain their man will slip to the second. Maybe they’ll be confident they can actually draft the next Garoppolo with the pick they received in exchange for Garoppolo months ago. But because the future of the most important position on their roster is so tightly bound to the health of a 40-year-old, it feels like they really can't afford to wait around.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

BEST OF BST PODCAST: Celtics stand pat, Cavs blow up roster at deadline

best_of_bst_podcast.jpg
File Photo

BEST OF BST PODCAST: Celtics stand pat, Cavs blow up roster at deadline

0:41 - Chris Mannix joins BST to discuss the Cavaliers making multiple change, turning over most of their roster, and if the Cavaliers got better than the Celtics with these moves. 

6:31 - Tom Curran, Lou Merloni, and Kayce Smith discuss Jimmy Garoppolo signing a 5-year, $137 million deal with the 49ers, making him the highest paid player in the NFL.

12:10 - Our crew on BST discuss the report that stated Tom Brady would sit out OTAs if he does not get a new contract, but Tom Curran says his sources tell him that report is not accurate. 

17:37 - Curran, Merloni, and Giles talk about Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft meeting in public and why they may have done so.