The New England Patriots are unlikely to land one of the top-tier quarterbacks in the 2020 NFL Draft. But that didn’t stop them from meeting with one last week at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Oregon’s Justin Herbert, whom many draft experts consider the third-best QB in this class behind LSU’s Joe Burrow and Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, told Peter King of NBC Sports he met with the Patriots in Indianapolis.
Specifically, Herbert sat down with Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and came away impressed.
From King’s “Football Morning in America” column:
King: Who’d you meet at the combine who was impressive, or who you really wanted to meet?
Herbert: “Coach McDaniels with the Patriots. That’s a guy I’ve always watched, always looked up to. I love their offense.”
Herbert is a polarizing prospect, but he’d be an ideal fit for New England from a measurable/testing standpoint. Standing 6-foot-6, 236 pounds with 10-inch hands, the 21-year-old ran a 4.68-second 40-yard dash with a 7.06-second three-cone, 4.46-second short shuttle, 35.5-inch vertical jump and 123-inch broad jump, making him one of the most athletic signal-callers at the combine.
That being said, the chances of the Patriots drafting Herbert are very slim. They currently own the 23rd overall pick, and Herbert is unlikely to fall out of the top 10, especially with QB-needy teams like the Miami Dolphins (No. 5), Los Angeles Chargers (No. 6) and Carolina Panthers (No. 7) all picking in that range.
Draft slot hasn’t prevented the Patriots from showing interest in premier QBs in the past, though. Two years ago, McDaniels had a pre-draft meeting with Baker Mayfield, who wound up being the first overall selection.
It’s unclear who will start at quarterback for New England in 2020, as Tom Brady is set to hit free agency if he and the team cannot come to terms on a new contract before March 18. The Patriots currently have 2019 fourth-round draft pick Jarrett Stidham and veteran backup Cody Kessler under contract and likely would look to add another experienced arm through free agency or via trade if Brady leaves.