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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Could Patriots call on Princeton QB Kanoff on Day 3 of draft?

Could Patriots call on Princeton QB Kanoff on Day 3 of draft?

FOXBORO -- The Patriots passed on Lamar Jackson in the first round on two separate occasions. They opted not to take quarterbacks Mason Rudolph or Kyle Lauletta in the second round after wheeling and dealing to add a fourth-rounder and trading away one second for a future second. 

They could very well take a pass on the entire draft class at the position despite the fact that Lauletta and a handful of other Patriots types are available at quarterback on Day 3.

Still, if they decide to throw a dart at a QB on the final day of the draft or in undrafted free agency, Princeton's Chad Kanoff would make a lot of sense. Like Lauletta and Western Kentucky's Mike White, Kanoff made our list of "Prototypical Patriots" before the draft.

Why? From a physical standpoint, he hits just about every measurement Bill Belichick has drafted in New England in the past. His height (6-4), weight (219), hand size (10 1/4 inches) and arm length (33 3/4 inches) are all in range of what the Patriots usually like. His 40 time isn't blazing, but it's fast enough (5.03 seconds), and his vertical is impressive (32.5 inches) for someone his size at his position. 

When it comes to Kanoff's production at Princeton, he barely missed a couple of the ideal marks on our radar. His touchdown-to-interception ratio was a hair below 2-to-1 (43-to-22), and his yards per attempt were a tick below 7.5 (7.4). His completion percentage was more than solid enough (64.5) relative to other Patriots draft picks at the position, and it's no wonder the Patriots have met with Kanoff more than once during the pre-draft process. 

So why -- especially after putting together a record-breaking season at Princeton where he set the mark for passing yards in a single season (3,474) -- hasn't Kanoff found himself on the league-wide quarterback radar as this draft comes to its conclusion? 

Kanoff, who initially committed to Vanderbilt out of high school, was part of a unique offensive setup in 2016 run by Princeton's head coach Bob Surace. Kanoff split time with more of a dual-threat quarterback named John Lovett that season, giving way to Lovett whenever the Tigers got inside the red zone. 

Lovett won the Bushnell Cup as the Ivy League offensive player of the year. Meanwhile, Kanoff's numbers didn't exactly jump off the page as "NFL-caliber." He completed 168 of his 272 attempts for 1,741 yards that season. He threw just six touchdowns and six interceptions.

With that kind of stat line, scouts didn't pay Kanoff much attention. Then when Lovett was injured last season, Kanoff took over and won the Bushnell Cup as a pocket passer.

"They couldn't fathom that an Ivy League school has two NFL quarterbacks," said Surace, who spent nine seasons as an assistant with the Cincinnati Bengals. "So they didn't give him a draftable grade when they did their scouting in the winter before [Chad's] senior year. It's very difficult for scouts to say, 'Oops, I messed up. I need an eraser.' Not every team will erase. 

"You notice who the good teams are year in and year out. They're willing to go back and see development and see maybe they might've missed something the spring before. Good teams do that. I think that really affected his ability to be at the Senior Bowl or the combine, the East-West game, or the NFLPA game. Because he's gone head-to-head with a lot of these other quarterbacks at these local pro days, and there's no question who the better one was. I have heard that from people who are at those workouts."

Kanoff, who is represented by Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo's agent Don Yee, was scouted by the Patriots in person at Princeton's pro day, and Kanoff later met privately with the club.

It was "humbling," Kanoff explained, to have any pre-draft interest from a team he admired growing up. And his affinity for New England's style of play went well beyond just watching Tom Brady throw passes on TV. At Princeton, Kanoff studied Brady closely and he and his quarterback teammates once charted every one of Brady's throws for a season. 

Princeton's former offensive coordinator James Perry, now the head coach at Bryant, loved the Patriots offense - and he had a coaching connection to help give his players more insight on some of the concepts used in Foxboro. Perry's brother, John, is an assistant for Bill O'Brien with the Houston Texans. 

"We charted every throw [Brady] made and then we compared ourselves to how accurate he is short, medium, long," Kanoff said. "He literally never misses throws five yards away or behind the line of scrimmage. It's automatic basically every single time. That was something that I really worked at because of watching him. If it's there, and it's your job to throw it, you throw it and you make a completion. When it's not difficult whatsoever, he never misses. I remember that being the biggest takeaway . . .

"Coach would always say that the NFL is set up for everyone to go .500 so why do the Patriots always win? It's because this guy is so on point all the time. It makes a lot of sense that he's unusually good at the things you're supposed to do that not everyone is able to do perfectly."

Kanoff is shooting to be as accurate as Brady in that short-to-intermediate range, though he knows it's a lofty standard. His coach believes there's another NFL comparison for Kanoff's game that makes some sense, even if he acknowledges it may sound a little overzealous at first blush.

"You look at [Chad's] body type, it was probably very similar to a Jared Goff coming out of Cal," Surace said. "He's long, he's lean . . . But his throwing motion, he has a beautiful throwing motion and his accuracy. You watch the two pro days. I've watched every throw Chad has made, obviously. I've watched a lot of Goff; I'm very intrigued by what they did while he was at Cal. I'm not saying Chad is the No. 1 pick in the draft or he's going to make the Pro Bowl in his second year, but there's a lot of physical similarities. 

"I think in [a Rams] type of offense, or New England's type of offense, he's going to excel in that type of setting. He's not going to run the ball. He's not going to be Lamar Jackson. He's going to be the old-school standard. I'm not saying he's Peyton Manning, Jared Goff or Tom Brady. He's the kind of guy coordinators have been looking for years, and the most successful ones -- I'm not saying Chad is going to be one of those -- have won championships. He's in that mold of quarterback."

Princeton ran a no-huddle attack with Kanoff behind center, but it was a game-plan offense loaded with pro concepts. They were under center at times. They were in multiple formations. The motioned. They threw short. They threw deep.

They got their signals from the sidelines to try to keep their breakneck pace. And Kanoff wasn't making checks at the line to change plays. But it was far from simple. 

"We're able to challenge our players from a standpoint of philosophy or scheme and personnel groups, formations, all those different things," Surace said. "And part of it is because our quarterback has one of those rare minds. He can remember plays from three years ago . . . You sit there and you're like, 'This guy gets it.' That's one of the things that the great ones that I've been around have been able to do."

"A lot of tempo offenses like to limit their formations formationally," Kanoff explained. "We do whatever. Tight end in. Flank. Wing. We do a ton of different pass plays. We do a ton of motioning. We do a ton with the protections, which I've learned now is not actually that common in college for a quarterback. It's somewhat similar to what a lot of NFL teams do, some of the teams I've been talking to. It's not usual. It was a lot for a quarterback, which is what you want. You want a lot on your shoulders."

Kanoff was a public policy and international relations major at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton. He also had a minor in computer science and his senior thesis was a look at technological vulnerabilities of U.S. election systems. There would be a job in the non-football world waiting for him if he wanted it. But for now, he's all in on football, and he may hear his name called later today. 

If that call happens to come from New England, to bring him in to study behind the QB he's studied so closely, that'd be just fine with him.

"The Patriots have to be the dream for just about every quarterback, I would imagine," he said. "They're the best. The best quarterback that we've all grown up watching. Great system. Great coach. Winners."

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Prototypical Patriots: Fitzpatrick, Reid fit the mold at safety

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Prototypical Patriots: Fitzpatrick, Reid fit the mold at safety

The Patriots have long had one of the deeper safety groups in the league. Their trio of Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, and Duron Harmon see extensive playing time together as part of Bill Belichick's "big nickel" package due to their collective football IQ and sound tackling. 

But it wouldn't come as a shock to see Belichick and Nick Caserio look for safety help in this year's draft class. Both Chung and McCourty are in their thirties, and the team could be looking for insurance at a position that is critical to the functionality of their defense. 

There are a handful of safeties who meet the criteria the Patriots typically look for in the draft at this position: good tackling, intelligence, and explosive athletic ability. Let's get to the list . . . 

PROTOTYPICAL PATRIOTS - Previously in the series:

 

PROTOTYPES IN RANGE

MINKAH FITZPATRICK, ALABAMA, 204

The Patriots would have to climb the board to draft Fitzpatrick, but he looks like he could be the ideal successor to Patrick Chung whenever the Patriots feel like they have to make that move. His intangibles are off the charts, and he should excel in the slot, which is becoming a more important position in NFL secondaries with ever passing year. Need someone to blitz from the "star" spot? Need a matchup player for slot receivers and tight ends? Want a sub linebacker or a strong safety? He could do it all, and coming from 'Bama he'd be a seamless fit in New England. 

DERWIN JAMES, FLORIDA STATE, 6-2, 215

If we had a separate category for players who physically could be considered a prototype "plus," James would be the lone member. He breaks the typical Patriots safety mold because of his unique frame and ridiculous athleticism. He ran a 4.47-second 40, jumped 40 inches in the vertical and 132 inches in the broad jump. He still has technique issues he can clean up, but as a do-it-all chess piece for a defense? Someone who can jump routes as a box safety, play the run, and rush the passer better than some edge players in this draft? He's in a class all his own. If the Patriots want him, they'll probably have to get into the top-10 to get him. Unlikely as it is, they have the draft capital to do it. 

JUSTIN REID, STANFORD, 6-1, 207

Another Swiss Army knife in the secondary, Reid has the size to play safety and the athleticism (4.4-second 40, 36-inch vert, 128-inch broad, 6.65-second three-cone, 4.15-second short shuttle) to play all over Bill Belichick's secondary. He may over-pursue at times, but if he polishes his game in a consistent role at the next level, he has the traits to be special. Given the program he's coming from and given his athleticism and versatility, he's one of the best Patriots fits in the draft class regardless of position. 

JESSIE BATES, WAKE FOREST, 6-1, 200

Another solid athlete at the position who projects as a versatile safety with good ball skills thanks in part to an extensive baseball background, Bates may not be as refined as some others at this position -- his been critiques for his technique -- but his ability to change direction is NFL-caliber. 

GODWIN IGWEBUIKE, NORTHWESTERN, 5-11, 213

Athletically, Igwebuike is everything the Patriots like in their safeties. Blazing 40 (4.44 seconds), explosive jumps (35.5-inch vert, 128-inch broad) and good change-of-direction skills (6.56-second three-cone, 4.12-second short shuttle). He has good size (Patrick Chung is listed at 5-11, 215), he's not afraid to hit, he's smart, and if he doesn't contribute as a strong safety quickly, he'll at least provide special teams value. Igwebuike was no stranger to the kicking game at Northwestern.

TARVARIUS MOORE, SOUTHERN MISS, 6-1, 199

Moore lit up his pro day, stomped it out, then torched it again, and again, and again. He dominated every event, running a 4.32-second 40 and a 6.95-second three-cone. He also jumped 133 inches in the broad and 38.5 inches in the vertical. He had eight pass breakups, per Pro Football Focus, and he could be a Day 2 pick as a free safety.

DANE CRUIKSHANK, ARIZONA, 6-1, 209

Specimen. Cruikshank ran a 4.41-second 40, jumped 38.5 inches in the vertical and showed good change-of-direction skills with a 6.89-second three-cone at this year's combine. He needs work defensively, but he has all the measurables (and the aggressiveness) to factor in as a special-teamer right away. 

SIRAN NEAL, JACKSONVILLE STATE, 6-0, 206

With enough speed (4.56-second 40) and plenty of explosiveness (40.5-inch vertical, 122-inch broad), Neal could put his toughness to use as a box safety at the next level. He has experience at both safety and corner, and he could be a Day 3 special-teams option with upside defensively.


IMPERFECT BUT INTRIGUING

RONNIE HARRISON, ALABAMA, 6-2, 207

Harrison is oh-so-close to being a prototype at this spot. The school, the size, the explosiveness (34-inch vert, 120-inch broad) -- they all check out. His speed might be a concern, though. He didn't run the 40 at the combine and then checked in with a less-than-ideal 4.63 at his pro day. 

QUENTON MEEKS, STANFORD, 6-1, 209

Meeks played corner at Stanford, but his speed and size may force a shift to safety at the next level. If he makes that move and takes to it . . . he'd end up as a very solid athlete on the back end. He checks just about every Patriots requirement physically and athletically compared to the top-100 picks the Patriots have made on safeties in the past. The son of a coach and a good tackler, coming from a well-respected program, Meeks could be a fit in New England on Day 3.

QUIN BLANDING, UVA, 6-2, 207

Blanding isn't the athlete the Patriots typically like to draft when they're looking for safeties, but he was incredibly productive for the Cavaliers, making 502 tackles in four years as a starter, and playing in a whopping 98 percent of the defensive snaps. You've heard Belichick say it before: Availability is more important than ability. 

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