Exactly how much do the Patriots value the quarterback position?
Are there any passers in this year's class that Bill Belichick believes would be worthy of a top-half of the first round choice? Any he'd be willing to trade up for?
One way or the other, the world will learn a great deal about how Belichick sees the most important position in the sport. He simply hasn't been in this position before. And two weeks ahead of the draft, he was asked if he valued quarterbacks to the same extent as other decision-makers around the league.
This offseason alone, we've seen the Rams trade two first-round picks and a quarterback to the Lions for a quarterback they viewed as an upgrade. The Niners traded two future first-round picks and more to move up 10 spots in this year's draft to draft a quarterback when they already had a Super Bowl-starting quarterback on their roster.
It's clear that these days, the value for a good quarterback is through the roof. The value for a great quarterback -- or even just a potentially-great quarterback -- is astronomical.
Knowing that, Belichick was asked Thursday, would he ever take a quarterback at a spot in the draft that was not befitting that quarterback's grade?
Put differently, would Belichick "overdraft" a quarterback he likes (but maybe doesn't love), knowing that he may not have a crack at said quarterback if he waits for the point in the draft where that player's grade and New England's draft position are more closely aligned?
"I think that question really applies to every position on the board," Belichick said. "There are players that, if you just grade them on what they’ve done or what their production has been over the course of their career, you’re not going to get that player.
"If you see the player’s upside and development and growth, and you pay a much higher price for the player than what his production shows [it's] because you feel that, in time -- or [with more] experience or [in a] different system or whatever the combination of reasons are -- that the player will perform above what his production was in college.
"Could be injury-related, could be, as I said, scheme-related, could be, just the physical development of the player. Those are always things that you talk about. You’re obviously betting on the come there. You’re betting on the player’s development versus what you might actually see from another player. But in some cases the upside might be greater and the downside might be greater, too. But at some point you decide to make that investment and then we all see how the player turns out.
Does anyone in this year's class have the kind of potential Belichick is talking about? Does, for instance, North Dakota State's Trey Lance or Ohio State's Justin Fields or Alabama's Mac Jones have enough upside to be selected with the No. 15 overall pick? To warrant a trade up for the Patriots? Lance, a 20-year-old with just one year and one game of collegiate experience, may fit that mold.
Whatever Belichick's predilection when it comes to quarterbacks in this year's class, we'll get a sense for how arguably the best coach in league history wants to move forward with the most important position in the sport. Whatever action he does or doesn't take will carry with it plenty of intrigue.