Patriots

Perry: Could Patriots' 'Next Guy' be drafted next year?

Perry: Could Patriots' 'Next Guy' be drafted next year?

In all likelihood, Danny Etling isn't going to factor into how the Patriots handle their search for Tom Brady's successor. Never say never, but as a seventh-round pick, the LSU product probably isn't going to be the next face of the franchise. 

Many wondered if the Patriots would be all-in on finding that guy in this year's relatively deep class of quarterbacks. And according to Baker Mayfield's agent, they might've been all-in had Mayfield fallen to the No. 2 pick. 

But maybe that move is coming next year. 

The Patriots finished the draft last weekend having added future second and third-rounders, which provides them with all kinds of ammo to move up the board in 2019 if they so choose. At the moment, they own a first-rounder, two seconds, three thirds (including two projected compensatory selections), a fourth, a fifth, a sixth and three sevenths next spring.

It's impossible to know where exactly those picks will be slotted, but if the Patriots make it to the conference finals for the eighth consecutive season, they could move up from the bottom of the first round into a range that would be in or around the top-five if they were to package their first, both seconds and all three thirds. 

That's a haul, and more than the Patriots have ever dealt away to land one player under Bill Belichick. But the Patriots have never been in a spot under Belichick where the clock is ticking down on their search to find their next great quarterback.

Knowing that they could trade up - and jumping off of Tuesday's headlines that they might've been willing to trade up all the way from No. 23 to No. 2 for Mayfield - we took a look at a handful of the draft-eligible quarterbacks for next season to see which ones might be the best fits. 

Going off the criteria we used for this year's Prototypical Patriots series - the Patriots have typically drafted tall passers with good production in Power 5 conferences (though Jimmy Garoppolo bucked two of those three trends) - here are some quarterback names to keep in mind if you're watching college football this fall...All heights and weights are pulled from DraftScout.com.

PROTOTYPICAL PATRIOTS
RYAN FINLEY, NC STATE, 6-3, 210


Finley is another tall-enough, strong-armed quarterback with good production who the Patriots could find intriguing. For a team that typically likes at least a 2-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio in the passers it drafts, Finley hits that on the nose (38-to-19). He's also averaging 7.4 yards per attempt and he's completing 62.6 percent of his passes - both strong marks from a Patriots perspective. He runs a pro-style offense at NC State, Jacoby Brissett's former home, and looks like one of the best Patriots fits in next year's class.

JUSTIN HERBERT, OREGON, 6-5, 225
Herbert has plenty of size compared to quarterbacks the Patriots have drafted in the past. And his production, when on the field, has been tremendous. His touchdown-to-interception ratio over his career is 34-to-9, he's averaging 8.5 yards per attempt, and he's completing 65.3 percent of his passes. Those all slot in range for what the Patriots have sought in the past. His issue has been durability. He's played in 16 games at Oregon over the last two seasons.

IMPERFECT BUT INTRIGUING
DREW LOCK, MISSOURI, 6-3, 225


Let's start with Lock in our "imperfect" grouping. He's among the quarterbacks who look the part, but whose numbers in college are slightly below the ideal marks for a team that values accuracy and efficiency. (We'll later get to the quarterbacks who don't meet some of the team's typical height standards but have great numbers.) Lock's rocket arm has helped him post a 71-to-31 touchdown-to-interception ratio and rack up a 7.8 yards-per-attempt average, but his 54.5 career completion percentage could use a bump. Even some of the sub-60 percent quarterbacks the Patriots have drafted before weren't that low: Kevin O'Connell (57.7), Ryan Mallett (57.8), Brissett (59.5).

JACOB EASON, WASHINGTON, 6-4, 235
Eason left Georgia after suffering an injury early last season and losing his starting job. Will his time under Kirby Smart help him in Belichick's eyes -- the Patriots just drafted two of Eason's offensive teammates in the first round -- or will the fact that he split the program hurt him? He has the size to succeed at the next level, and he sports a 2-to-1 ratio (16 touchdowns to eight picks), but he's also well below 60 percent completions for his career (55.2). 

NICK FITZGERALD, MISSISSIPPI STATE, 6-4, 230
Good size, great conference, OK production. That's Fitzgerald at this point. Can he keep his pick total low in 2018? Can he boost his 6.7 yards per attempt and 55.4 percent completion percentage? If he puts together a big year, who knows how far up boards he may climb. He has prototype size. 

CLAYTON THORSON, NORTHWESTERN, 6-3, 225
Thorson hasn't had the talent that some of the others on this list have had around them, but he's widely considered a draftable quarterback in next year's class. He's a sub-60 percent completions quarterback for his career, but accuracy may not be his biggest question mark at the moment. Thorson tore his ACL in last season's Music City Bowl making a catch on a trick play. He holds the record for wins as a starting quarterback at Northwestern (27).

JARRETT STIDHAM, AUBURN, 6-2, 214
Garoppolo was 6-2 coming out of Eastern Illinois so the Patriots aren't totally averse to taking passers who measure in less than 6-3. It's just that when you look at their draft history under Belichick, they typically lean toward taller players at the position. (Another reason why trading up for Mayfield, who's almost two full inches shorter than Garoppolo, would've been a break from the norm.) Stidham has been very productive (67 percent completions, 9.2 yards per attempt, 30-to-8 touchdown-to-interception ratio), and if he can keep that up in the SEC he should get some consideration at One Patriot Place.

JAKE BENTLEY, SOUTH CAROLINA, 6-2, 220
Bentley beat up on Harbaugh's squad in the Outback Bowl back in January. He completed 19 of 32 passes for 239 yards, two scores and a pick in the 26-19 win. He's completed 63.4 percent of his passes and if he's really as tall as the Gamecocks website says he is (6-4), then he'll end up much closer to the top of this list than the bottom by next spring. 

WILL GRIER, WEST VIRGINIA, 6-1, 214 
Grier can launch it deep, and he has some ability to extend plays with his legs and find open receivers down the field. A transfer from Florida, he's produced in a big way throughout his career, hitting about 65 percent of his passes and accumulating a nearly 3-to-1 (44-to-15) touchdown-to-interception ratio over his career. His size and style of play will draw some comparisons to Mayfield this time next year.

SHEA PATTERSON, MICHIGAN, 6-1, 193
Another undersized, athletic quarterback who transferred from the SEC. Patterson played seven games for Ole Miss before transferring and is expected by many to be one of the more exciting signal-callers to watch in college football next season under Jim Harbaugh.

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Patriots Talk Podcast: Chris Long on SB 52, Philly-NE differences, Kaepernick, retirement and more

Patriots Talk Podcast: Chris Long on SB 52, Philly-NE differences, Kaepernick, retirement and more

Chris Long has a unique perspective on Patriots-Eagles, having been with both teams on their Super Bowl title runs. He joins Tom E. Curran for a wide-ranging discussion.

1:04 - Long, the former Rams, Patriots and Eagles defensive end, joins Curran to discuss life after retirement. 

5:19 - Chris talks about his media company, Chalk Media, and what type of content he hopes to create and who he hopes to reach.

12:26 - With the NFL announcing the league will be holding an open tryout for Colin Kaepernick, Chris gives his take on the situation and whether or not he thinks the former 49ers quarterback can still play.

19:57 - How do athletes deal with social anxiety? Chris talks about how fans' interactions make him feel as he tries to live his life post-NFL.

24:31 - Chris and Tom talk about the differences between the two championship teams he was on - the 2016 Patriots and 2017 Eagles - and how “fun” played into each team’s season.

29:42 - A lot has changed for the Patriots and Eagles since Super Bowl LII. Chris talks about the track each team has been on since that game and how he sees their Week 11 matchup going.

38:41 - As a Knicks fan, Chris feels like he needs a side NBA team to watch. He was given the Celtics and he couldn’t be more excited to cheer for them this season.

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Could Colin Kaepernick make NFL comeback? Ex-Patriot Chris Long weighs in

Could Colin Kaepernick make NFL comeback? Ex-Patriot Chris Long weighs in

Colin Kaepernick hasn't played in the NFL since 2016, but the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback will be given a chance to showcase his talents in front of scouts on Saturday.

The Patriots will be one of the multiple teams doing their due diligence by attending Kaepernick's private workout arranged by the league in Atlanta. But will Kaepernick actually end up on an NFL roster?

Appearing on the latest episode of Tom E. Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast, former Pats defensive end Chris Long shared his thoughts on the whole Kaepernick situation.

"I think he could still play in this league," Long said. "I've never contended at the end of his rope there he was a top 15 quarterback. I mean, he was bottom third. But if you're a bottom third starting quarterback in this league, there's a job.

"The problem with this Kaep thing is that everybody is so worked up, and that's OK, but people are really binary and they can't think in any nuance or gray area. So if you hate Kaep, he's Johnny Manziel, which is untrue. And if you love Kaep, he's Joe Montana, which is untrue. He's a guy who was a starting quarterback, 20th... in that range his last year across the board, which means he's a good quarterback. Which means he can help a team."

Curran and Long also discuss whether they believe the NFL is giving Kaepernick a legitimate shot at making an NFL team, or if this seems like more of a PR stunt.

Other topics on the show include Long's upcoming media company, "Chalk Media," how athletes deal with social anxiety, differences between the 2016 Patriots and 2017 Eagles, and Long's new NBA "side team."

Listen to the full episode below (Kaepernick talk begins at 12:26):

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