By Ben Babcock
We all know the Patriots are going to have to replace Tom Brady at some point, and while we don’t know exactly when that will happen we can be pretty sure that it’s going to happen within the next 5 years. So the question is, who do they go to?
It’s definitely not Brian Hoyer, he’s nearing the end of his career as well and while he has proven to be an alright quarterback, he’s not going to be the future of the New England Patriots. There are multiple available options in this year’s free agent class, such as Kirk Cousins, Case Keenum, and a few others, but the Patriots aren’t going to dump big money into a backup QB, especially with their minimal cap space($14.56 Million). So what’s left? The draft.
This year there are many good quarterbacks in the draft class, and more importantly, quarterbacks that are going in the middle rounds and fit the Patriots system. New England has never drafted a quarterback in the first round under head coach Bill Belichick. They’ve also only ever had three QB’s in the lineup twice, with Brady, Hoyer, and Mallet in 2011-12, and with Brady, Garoppolo, and Brissett last year. There hasn’t been the need to keep a third QB on the roster with Tom Brady at the helm the past 17 years, whose only missed one season to injury and very few games outside of that. So we may not even see the Patriots target a quarterback in this draft if they are confident in Brady’s abilities to lead the team again this year. But let’s just say they do.
If the Patriots are able to land a cornerback and/or pass rusher in free agency then we could see them go for a quarterback in the first couple rounds. With one possibility being Mason Rudolph, who led the FBS in passing yards during his college career, is one of the top rated QB’s in this draft, is projected to go early in the 2nd or 3rd. The Patriots have the 31st pick the draft along with the 43rd that they got in the Garoppolo trade earlier this year, along with their own second rounder at 63. I don’t see them taking him in the first round or even early second because the problem on defense outweighs the need for a backup quarterback, but if Rudolph falls to them in late the second round I could definitely see them taking him. Another possible option is Luke Falk from Washington State, another pocket passer who has said he tries to model his game after Brady and has proven to be a solid passer, with a 68 percent completion rate and over 14,000 passing yards during his four-year career. Falk is projected to go in the 3rd or 4th which is very good value for the Patriots. They’ve always managed to get value out of quarterbacks they take in the later rounds so Falk is a very viable option and my favorite going into this offseason. A couple other possibilities would be Mike White from Western Kentucky, Kyle Lauletta from Richmond, and Logan Woodside from Toledo, with White and Lauletta, also projected to go in the middle and late rounds and Woodside projected to be a free agent.
New England only has six picks in this year’s draft and four of them are in the first three rounds, and with a lot of problems on the defense, we will most likely see those picks spent on the secondary or defensive line. With Nate Soldier possibly leaving the Patriots could also look for new O-linemen in the draft as well. So we could very well see New England not drafting a quarterback at all this year and they focus on that next year.