With former New England quarterback Tom Brady (that’s a strange phrase to hear, huh?) choosing to take his talents elsewhere this offseason, the Patriots are faced with legitimate uncertainty behind center for the first time in decades.
As they recalibrate for life in a post-Brady world, the Patriots likely will add a veteran QB to a depth chart that currently features 2019 fourth-round draft pick Jarrett Stidham — who’s garnered positive reviews in his first year as a pro — and Cody Kessler.
Should they dip back into the draft pool, as well? That’s a question Bill Belichick and his staff will consider over the next month-and-a-half.
If they do, here are a few quarterbacks they could target:
Justin Herbert, Oregon
Given the current state of the Patriots’ roster and their apparent affinity for Stidham, we wouldn’t advocate drafting a QB in the first round. But if they do choose that route, Herbert checks all of New England’s boxes from a testing standpoint, and he had a memorable sitdown with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels at the NFL Scouting Combine. The 6-foot-6, 236-pounder has been mentioned as a potential Patriots target at No. 23, but they’d likely need to trade up to land him.
Jordan Love, Nevada
Another member of the second tier of QBs behind Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa, Love has garnered lofty comparisons to Patrick Mahomes. His 17 interceptions last season might be too many for the ball security-focused Patriots to stomach, though. Love is another player who’d probably require a trade-up.
Jake Fromm, Georgia
Fromm has all the intangibles a team could want — leadership, football IQ, poise, toughness, etc. — but his lackluster physical tools and average arm strength could limit his ceiling at the pro level. His NFL player comps on both NFL.com and Pro Football Focus are career backups: Colt McCoy and Chase Daniel.
Jacob Eason, Washington
In a way, Eason is a bizarro version of Fromm, who beat him out for the starting job at Georgia, prompting him to transfer. He’s got a great arm and ideal size (6-6, 231) but enters the draft with questions about his pocket presence and ability to read defenses.
Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma
Hurts isn’t a prototypical NFL quarterback, but his athleticism and versatility could make him an intriguing option for the Patriots if he drops to the third or fourth round. He threw for 9,477 yards (9.1 per attempt) and 80 touchdowns, rushed for 3,274 yards (5.3 per) with 43 scores and posted a career record of 38-4 as a starter over three seasons at Alabama and one at Oklahoma. We have the Patriots taking Hurts with the 100th overall pick in our latest mock draft.
Anthony Gordon, Washington State
All three of the QBs in this category would be projects. Gardner Minshew’s successor has some talent but lacks experience (just 14 collegiate starts), which shows in his decision-making.
Cole McDonald, Hawaii
The Patriots typically steer clear of “gunslinger”-type quarterbacks, but McDonald could be worth a late-round flier despite his penchant for dangerous throws (24 interceptions over the last two seasons). He’s one of the more athletic QBs in this year’s class — posting the fastest 40-yard dash and highest vertical jump — and showed some scrambling ability at Hawaii.
Nate Stanley, Iowa
Belichick loves Iowa guys.