The Patriots’ quarterback room might look like it currently has no vacancy, but the NFL’s top draft expert still expects New England to use some premier draft capital in search of Tom Brady’s successor.

With Brady gone to Tampa Bay, to say the Patriots have a sizable hole to fill would be a massive understatement. Picking up Brian Hoyer seemed to send a pretty clear signal: New England was OK entering the 2020 season with second-year QB Jarrett Stidham as the presumptive starter with Hoyer and Cody Kessler fighting it out for the backup job.

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But the NFL draft is less than a month away, and ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. is ramping up his mock draft efforts. He released his latest mock Tuesday, and he has the Patriots drafting a QB with the No. 23 pick in the first round: Utah State’s Jordan Love.

“At 6-foot-4, Love has all the traits that teams look for in a starter, but his 2019 stats — 20 TD passes, 17 INTs — will scare off some,” Kiper writes, after saying he’s “not buying” the Patriots will enter the season with their current QB situation.

“I don’t put much stock into it because of all of the talent (and an entire coaching staff) that he lost from the 2018 season, when he had 32 TD passes and six INTs. It’s tough to know whether Bill Belichick is going to treat the season as a rebuild, but taking Love makes sense either way.”

If not Love, there are plenty of other draft options for the Patriots at quarterback. Of course, there’s also the possibility they could trade up in the first round if they really covet another QB, but the Patriots’ general lack of high-end picks in the 2020 draft could be an obstacle in that regard.

Given the exodus the Patriots also experienced on the defensive side of the ball, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Bill Belichick go that route, either. There’s also a relative dearth of skill position players on offense, meaning there are plenty of directions New England could go in this draft.

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