Mel Kiper Jr.'s latest 2020 NFL mock draft has Patriots picking QB in first round

Mel Kiper Jr.'s latest 2020 NFL mock draft has Patriots picking QB in first round

Could the New England Patriots find Tom Brady's replacement or his eventual successor in the 2020 NFL Draft?

The Patriots are projected to have as many as 12 picks (including compensatory selections) in April's draft, beginning with No. 23 overall in the first round. That's where ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. has the Patriots picking a quarterback in his 2020 NFL Mock Draft 2.0 released Tuesday.

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

Here is Kiper's reasoning for slotting Washington's Jacob Eason at No. 23 with the Patriots:

Yes, that's right, I'm now going with a quarterback for the Patriots, who still don't know if they'll have Tom Brady under center in 2020. Even if the 42-year-old free agent returns on a short-term deal, the Pats have to address the position on the first two days of the draft, so why not do it now? I like 2019 fourth-round pick Jarrett Stidham's potential, but I'm not sold on him as a long-term starter. Eason has been getting a lot of buzz from people I talk to in the NFL lately, though he's not a lock to be the fourth quarterback taken; he's still battling with Utah State's Jordan Love, but I'll give the 6-6 Eason the edge for now. He has the best arm of any signal-caller in this class, though he can be erratic at times. It'd be ideal if he got a year or two to sit behind Brady, but he has a much higher ceiling that Stidham. Safety and linebacker are other positions to keep an eye on for New England's top pick.

Eason spent his first two collegiate seasons at Georgia before transferring to Washington. He completed 64.2 percent of his passes for 3,132 yards with 23 touchdowns and eight interceptions last season. The Huskies earned an 8-5 record and beat Boise State 38-7 in the Las Vegas Bowl. Eason is the son of a former Notre Dame wide receiver named Tony Eason. Jacob Eason is NOT related to former Patriots quarterback Tony Eason. 

It wouldn't make much sense for the Patriots to take a quarterback in Round 1 if Brady is coming back for the 2020 season. In that scenario, the Patriots should try to surround Brady with as much offensive talent as possible. This means finding a tight end who can make a genuine impact in the passing game, improving the wide receiver depth and bolstering an offensive line that was ravaged by injuries last season. The 2020 draft class is absolutely loaded with talented wide receivers.

Listen and subscribe to Tom Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast:

The Patriots also drafted Auburn's Jarrett Stidham in the fourth round of last year's draft. He has yet to get an opportunity to prove himself. 

Regardless of what Brady decides in free agency, the Patriots need to nail the upcoming draft if they're going to compete for a Super Bowl title in the 2020 season.

WATCH: Rob Gronkowski serves as grand marshal for eNASCAR race

WATCH: Rob Gronkowski serves as grand marshal for eNASCAR race

Rob Gronkowski hasn't exactly kept a low profile since retiring from the NFL a year ago.

The former New England Patriots tight end recently signed a WWE contract and has spent the weekend hosting WrestleMania 36. Earlier in the week, he was revealed as White Tiger in the singing competition TV show "The Masked Singer".

Then on Sunday, Gronk made an appearance on FOX’s broadcast of NASCAR's iRacing Pro Invitational Series race at virtual Bristol Motor Speedway. He and WWE star Mojo Rawley served as co-Grand Marshals for the race and told drivers to start their (virtual) engines.

Watch below:

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

Gronk never fails to bring the energy, and the same certainly can be said for Rawley. The duo will host the second and final night of WrestleMania 36 starting at 6 p.m. Sunday.

NFL Rumors: Patriots held video conference with QB prospect James Morgan

NFL Rumors: Patriots held video conference with QB prospect James Morgan

The New England Patriots once again may be looking to add a quarterback who isn't near the top of many 2020 NFL Draft boards.

According to ESPN's Mike Reiss, the Patriots recently held a video conference with Florida International quarterback James Morgan. New England reportedly has been one of many teams eyeing the under-the-radar prospect.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

Reiss writes:

With only 2019 fourth-round pick Jarrett Stidham and veteran Brian Hoyer on the depth chart, the Patriots almost certainly will add a rookie quarterback. The question is when.

They will cast a wide net, as usual. One example: League sources say Florida International quarterback James Morgan had a videoconference meeting with the team. Morgan, who grew up in Green Bay and naturally modeled his game after Pro Football Hall of Fame QB Brett Favre, is an intriguing prospect who scouts say performed well in the East-West Shrine Game.

Morgan spent two years at Bowling Green State University and his next two at FIU. In 2019, he completed 58 percent of his passes for 2,585 yards, 14 touchdowns, and five interceptions. In his previous season, he set a school-record with 26 touchdown passes.

While the Patriots selecting Morgan wouldn't be the sexiest pick of the draft, it wouldn't be a huge surprise. After all, they have some experience drafting under-the-radar QBs in the later rounds. That strategy has worked out OK for Bill Belichick and Co. in the past.

For Phil Perry's latest mock and more information you need to know heading into the 2020 draft, check out the Next Pats Podcast below: