Finding the Future: Patriots Early Round Quarterback Targets

At what point in the NFL Draft will the Patriots look to select Tom Brady's eventual replacement?

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1 Finding Tom Brady’s Replacement (Rounds 1 & 2)

FOXBORO, MA – SEPTEMBER 10: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots cheers as he runs on to the field before the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Gillette Stadium on September 10, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

The Patriots had Tom Brady’s successor.  He was here.  They selected him with the 62nd overall pick in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft.  They taught him, nurtured him, groomed him, and watched him develop into a potential franchise Quarterback.  He was ready to take over the reins – in fact he did for a game and a half in 2016.  His name was Jimmy Garoppolo and he’s gone.

Traded away to the San Francisco 49ers right before last year’s trade deadline for a second round pick.  Shipped out because he and incumbent starter Tom Brady could no longer co-exist.  Because of money, because both wanted/deserved to be starters.  One of them had to go, and it was Jimmy.  Which means the Patriots must start from scratch to find Tom Brady’s eventual replacement.  And odds are it will happen sometime during this week’s NFL Draft.

The Patriots are loaded with Draft Capital (4 picks in the first two rounds) and this is a loaded QB Draft.

Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, and Josh Allen may all go in the top 5. There are others available for the Patriots though, especially if they want to package a few picks to move up even higher in round one.

Over the next 3 days CLNS will look at some possibilities for the Patriots beginning today with potential Patriots available in rounds 1 and 2.

2Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma

Baker Mayfield is a very interesting player to watch in this 2018 NFL Draft. There are rumors that he may be selected as high as #3 by the New York Jets, but for now, he seems to be the 4th highest rated QB on most draft boards. If the Patriots are interested though, they would have to make a move up to grab Mayfield by potentially packaging their two first rounders and possibly more depending on how high they have to climb to get him.

At Oklahoma Mayfield was a star in Lincoln Riley’s Air Raid offense. NFL teams have been skeptical about Air Raid quarterbacks in the past, but Mayfield could break the mold. According to Riley, Mayfield played a huge role in communication for the Sooners, much more so than other Air Raid quarterbacks usually do.

“He’s probably got more responsibility here than he would have with any NFL team he would go to,” Riley says. “Some places do it where you hold up a board on the sideline and he tells everybody what to do and he doesn’t have any communication responsibilities, but he plays a larger hand here, a pivotal role. Mentally, he’s the best one I’ve ever been around, and I’ve been around some good ones.”

Mayfield is a fiery competitor and an extremely accurate passer with an underrated arm and he continued to improve each year in college. In the red zone, Mayfield is poised and makes smart decisions, he won’t turn the ball over, something that is a much for a Bill Belichick run team.  He has also shown the ability to make something out of nothing like Russell Wilson does for the Seahawks. He’s not terribly fast (4.84 sec. 40), but he can escape and make plays with his legs when necessary.

It would cost them to move up for Mayfield but he could be a good fit.

3Lamar Jackson, Louisville

Lamar Jackson could be off the board by the time the Patriots make a selection at 23.  Right now, it seems like the Dolphins, Cardinals, or Saints are all will select the QB from Louisville, but anything is possible. He is a player that can make something out of nothing with his speed, but that doesn’t always translate to the NFL. Russell Wilson is a rarity. Jackson will have to add some weight to his thin frame to last in the NFL, as well as working on improving his overall accuracy. At 6’3″ Jackson still has a low release point, which is something he may have to alter to avoid tipped passes at the next level.

Jackson still has plenty of upside though. He is an athletic freak that is not available in every draft class. He’s an elite playmaker and also has experience under center, unlike many college quarterbacks. Jackson’s throw is more of a flick, like another speedy NFL QB Michael Vick. Of course, the comparison between Jackson has Vick has existed ever since he exploded on the scene to win the Heisman in 2016. Some like to knock Jackson’s accuracy but he has shown the ability to improve each and every year. That should continue in the NFL. Though he has the ability to run, Jackson has a great pocket presence and he has a very good ability to make pre-snap reads.

Jackson would completely change the offense for the Patriots if he did eventually become a starter, but that could be the best. A new system in New England would help fans move on from the Brady-era.

4Mason Rudolph

The New England Patriots would not have to move from their draft positions at all to grab Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph. He should be available with the 43rd overall pick.

Rudolph has the typical size that scouts in the NFL like to see at 6’5″ 235lbs, and he is a typical pocket passer. That doesn’t mean he can’t make plays with his legs though too. At Oklahoma State, Rudolph has 17 rushing touchdowns in 42 games. He lacks arm strength, but he can succeed in a system that has a well-established run game to take advantage of play action passes.

 

Extremely poised in the pocket, Mason Rudolph allows plenty of time for his receivers to run their routes. He can also get rid of the ball quickly too in order to avoid sacks or negative plays.

At times, Rudolph fails to utilize his lower body strength which leads to sailed passes over the head of his intended target. In the NFL those passes could wind up in the hands of the defense. He struggles to make smart reads when on the run or scrambling, and that intelligence will have to be built up with his new team. Mason Rudolph is a very intriguing option in the second round for the Patriots, as they could allow him all of the time he needs to develop.

The New England Patriots could look to nab their future franchise QB early, and if they do only these three players make sense. Others will be gone much too early, but New England could make moves to set themselves up for Baker Mayfield or stand pat to take Lamar Jackson or Mason Rudolph. Of course, the team could choose to sit and wait until the middle rounds, in which there are plenty of talented arms for the Patriots. Those players will be highlighted in this series in just a few days.