INDIANAPOLIS — The New England Patriots currently have Jarrett Stidham and Cody Kessler at quarterback. (Don’t laugh.)
They might get Tom Brady back, though it’s not a certainty.
They can afford to add another quarterback through the 2020 NFL Draft whether Brady returns or not. But that signal-caller needs to be a special case. Taking a more traditional quarterback like Jordan Love or Jake Fromm in the first round makes no sense. Both players have potential, but there’s no guarantee either will be better than Stidham.
The Patriots need a player with some athleticism and versatility. A player they can groom but also use in the short term by getting creative with read-option looks. And the most athletic quarterback in the 2020 class is someone Patriots head coach Bill Belichick should know pretty well: Oklahoma-by-way-of-Alabama’s Jalen Hurts, who played under Friend Of Belichick Nick Saban for three years.
Hurts clocked a 4.59-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine on Thursday night. He ran for over 3,000 yards — including negative yards for sacks — during his four-year college career with 43 rushing touchdowns. He also caught five passes for 40 yards with a touchdown.
Hurts wasn’t a prolific passer in his three years at Alabama, but he turned it on at Oklahoma, throwing for 3,851 yards with 32 touchdowns and eight interceptions while completing 69.7 percent of his passes in 2019. He threw for an insane 11.3 yards per passing attempt.
Hurts is a quarterback. He’s made that clear. But while he learns to play QB in the NFL, would he be willing to be used in packages similar to New Orleans Saints signal-caller Taysom Hill?
“I?ve always been a team-first guy,” Hurts said. “But I think I?m a quarterback.”
Hurts wouldn’t say if he’d talked to the Patriots at the combine, but he was excited by the idea of being groomed by Brady.
“He?s the greatest,” Hurts said. “Got a lot of respect for him. Those are situations I can?t control. I wouldn?t mind being able to learn from him.”
It might take some convincing from the Patriots to move around Hurts like Hill, but he could be a developmental quarterback with some usefulness in the present.
Another option for the Patriots with less passing ability but more versatility would be Kentucky’s Lynn Bowden Jr., who moved from wide receiver to quarterback for the final eight games of the 2019 season.
Bowden is an even better rusher and pass-catcher, but he wouldn’t be a developmental arm. He could throw an occasional pass from behind center, but he mostly would play running back or wide receiver in the NFL.