2013 Draft Countdown: Quarterbacks
Patriots pecking order: Tom Brady, Ryan Mallett, Mike Kafka
Brady is now signed through 2017 so the Patriots would be seeking depth at the position. Mallett is a free agent at the end of the season and while he could be an attractive trading chip during the draft, it’s unlikely any team would deal for him as their starter with an expiring contract. Hence, a deal would likely have to be worked out with Mallett and his agent prior to any trade being consummated. So there are moving parts there to clear before a deal is deemed likely. Kafka is an interesting prospect who scaled the Eagles’ depth chart after being drafted in 2010. A hand injury during last year’s training camp opened the door for others to move past Kafka and he was released. New England signed him early in the offseason.
Geno Smith, West Virginia
Good size, good speed, good thrower with three years experience as a starter. Ball security issues and differing views on how quickly he’d assimilate to a pro-style offense have led to a wide range of views on how early he’ll be drafted.
Ryan Nassib, Syracuse
Ultra-competitive and a fairly polished passer, his stock is on the rise as the draft approaches – ESPN’s Jon Gruden has Nassib as his top quarterback prospect. Consensus is that he’s a little limited athletically. Doug Marrone, his coach at Syracuse, now is running the Bills and Nassib could be a target for Buffalo.
Matt Barkley, USC
Has some physical limitations in terms of stature, athleticism and arm strength, according to draft experts. Played against high-level competition for the Trojans and his leadership skills and competitiveness make him an attractive prospect but he isn’t regarded as a one-man gang.
EJ Manuel, Florida State
Very highly respected leader with great intangibles. Excellent size at 6-foot-5, 237 pounds and tremendous athletic ability and elusiveness. A good passer who, experts say, will need some time to master the pro game and reading sophisticated defenses.
It’s unlikely the Patriots would use any of their first three selections on a quarterback unless one drops so precipitously it forces their hand (as Mallett did). The Patriots like quarterbacks who have demonstrated experience against high-level competition rather than players who project as projects. Oklahoma’s Landry Jones, a four-year starter who went 39-11 in college and is projected as a later-round pick could be an option but New England doesn’t currently have a pick in rounds four through six where Jones is projected to go. Kansas’ Dayne Crist, who began his career at Notre Dame under Charlie Weis and followed Weis to Kansas after being beaten out for the starting job with the Irish could be the kind of late-round target or undrafted free agent the Patriots would be interested in.