The Patriots have a lot of needs heading into the draft ranging from nabbing an offensive tackle in the wake of Nate Solder’s departure in free agency to helping a pass rush that was exposed in their loss to the Eagles in Super Bowl LII.
But none may be more important to their sustained success than finding the heir apparent to Tom Brady following the trade of Jimmy Garoppolo this past season. Brady will be 41-years-old heading into the 2018 season and only has about three or so years left (fingers crossed). That should give New England ample time to identify and groom the next quarterback similar to how they were working with Garoppolo as Brady fended off Father Time.
That hunt begins again at the 2018 NFL Draft and there are already a handful of quarterbacks being linked to the Pats. Here’s quick rundown of the quarterbacks who have been looked at as potential picks for New England and what their profile is looking like leading up to this year’s draft.
Out of the top tier quarterbacks in this draft, Mayfield seems to have gotten the most buzz as it relates to the Patriots. After all, the New York Daily News did report that it’s known within the top-10 teams of the draft that New England has an “affinity” for the Oklahoma quarterback.
Mayfield’s strong suit as a Sooner in 2017 was his accuracy as he completed 70.5 percent of his passes. While that’s a remarkable percentage, there is a question of how much of that was due to his offensive scheme at Oklahoma and there’s a question of what he’ll be like under center. Still, the Heisman Trophy winner was able to toss for 4,627 yards through the air, 43 touchdowns and just six interceptions. He also ran for 311 yards and five touchdowns.
Mayfield also comes with a bravado that should be endearing to any NFL franchise as it comes off as someone who isn’t afraid of the moment or doubts his ability, rather than it coming off as a punk.
As for how the Patriots can get him: New England will likely have to formulate a trade with a team inside the top-10 to be able to select Mayfield. Thanks to the Brandin Cooks trade which gave them the No. 23 overall pick along with their own No. 31 overall pick and two second rounders, they have plenty of ammunition to move around the board, if they so choose.
Director of Player Personnel for the Patriots Nick Caserio was on hand for Jackson’s Pro Day at Louisville and his name is starting to be thrown out there as a legitimate first round draft choice. The former Heisman Trophy winner has arguably been scrutinized the most out of all the quarterbacks this pre-draft process, but his collegiate numbers to speak for themselves. In 2017 season, Jackson was able to throw for 3,660 yards and 27 touchdowns. He was also able to rush for 1,601 yards and 18 touchdowns.
His 59.1 completion percentage isn’t exactly ideal for New England’s style, but he does have familiarity with a similar style offense that the Patriots run, so, in theory, he has a strong foundation already in place if taken by Belichick.
If the Patriots want him, it looks like it’ll have to be at No. 23 overall. Maybe if he free falls then maybe they can get him at No. 31, but why hold your breath and pray when you can have him eight picks earlier.
Rudolph held a private workout with the Patriots earlier this offseason, so there’s clearly some interest on the team’s front. Rudolph is looked as a more of a prototypical Patriots selection as he has good size and an accurate arm. At Oklahoma State, Rudolph increased his completion percentage four straight years finishing his senior season connecting on 65 percent of his passes. In 2017, he threw for 4,904 yards and 37 touchdowns to just nine interceptions. He’s also displayed some solid mobility rushing for 10 touchdowns in 2017.
While those numbers are strong, Rudolph is still raw and a few years behind a quarterback like Brady could do him a world of good rather than jumping in and playing immediately.
When asked at the NFL Combine, Rudolph was pretty open to working behind Brady saying it’d be “pretty darn cool” to craft his game under the five time Super Bowl champ.
Rudolph’s stock has arguably seen the most positive movement leading up to the draft. While he was once though to be had with one of New England’s two second round picks, they may need to use No. 23 or No. 31 to bring the OSU quarterback to Foxboro.
Falk models his game after Tom Brady and follows the TB12 Method, so why not have him as No. 12’s heir apparent? The Washington State quarterback has loads of tools that could seamlessly fit into the Patriot system. He’s accurate, completing over 68 percent of his passes throughout his college career, and was able to notch at least 30 touchdown passes for three straight seasons.
The 6-foot-4, 223 pounder has taken a beating as he was sacked 125 times in his college career, so there is some tread on his tires. Like Rudolph, Falk is a prime candidate to sit behind a veteran quarterback for a few seasons and learn. Falk is projected to come off the board in either the third or fourth round.
We’ve talked a lot of about Kyle Lauletta here and for good reason. If Belichick played Madden (or likely even knew what Madden was) he would create Lauletta as his MyPlayer. His family has a history with Navy football as his father was a quarterback there in the 1980’s along with his uncle playing there as well. Lauletta is also a big lacrosse fan, so of course Belichick will be taking a look at the signal caller.
Not only does Lauletta have the off-field boxes checked for a Belichick draft choice, he also draws a lot of comparisons to Jimmy Garoppolo. Like the current 49ers quarterback, Lauletta rose to notoriety with a stellar Senior Bowl performance where he threw for 198 yards and three touchdowns and was named the game’s MVP.
At Richmond, Lauletta finished with a school record 10,465 yards through the air and 73 touchdowns.
Like Falk, Lauletta serves as an ideal scenario for New England as they can use their two first round picks on more pressing needs for the 2018 season and he’ll likely still be on the board in the second round.