Patriots Mailbag: How Will New England Fill No. 3 Quarterback Vacancy?


The sporting world has been put on hold, but the NFL will continue to rumble on with its NFL draft later this month.

The league has been criticized for its decision to hold a draft during the coronavirus pandemic, but that sentiment seems to be coming directly from teams. After allowing free agency to go on as planned, there’s really no reason, as far as outside optics are concerned, why the NFL shouldn’t continue with its draft, as well.

NFL general managers would probably prefer more time to meet with players and have them undergo medical evaluations and pro days, but that’s also not realistic if the NFL has the intention to start its season on time. The NFL can’t wait for the pandemic to end to go through the draft process then start the season even later.

All teams are playing on a level playing field with limited information on prospects this offseason. So, it certainly doesn’t seem unfair to hold the draft.

Let’s talk draft in this week’s mailbag:

If you could guess, by releasing Cody Kessler Do you think that gives reason to believe we?ll select another QB in the draft or try and get another veteran?
My guess at this point is that the Patriots will draft another quarterback this spring. The other option would be to sign a free agent like Cam Newton, Jameis Winston or Blake Bortles or trade for a veteran like Andy Dalton.

I doubt the Patriots will use their first-round pick on a quarterback. Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert likely will be gone, and Jordan Love might be off the board by No. 23 overall, as well. I also don’t consider Love a definitive upgrade over current Patriots prospective starter Jarrett Stidham.

That would leave Jacob Eason, Jake Fromm and Jalen Hurts as the top available quarterbacks. Eason has the biggest arm and most upside, Fromm would be the safest pick and Hurts is the most athletic and versatile option.

There are cases to be made to take all three players, but I wouldn’t reach for any of them. I personally don’t think Eason, Fromm or Hurts is worth the 23rd overall pick. If any of them are still there in the third round, then I would consider taking a quarterback to compete with Stidham and Brian Hoyer in the summer. It never hurts to have multiple young quarterbacks on a roster.

Out of that group, Hurts makes the most sense for the Patriots in a post-Tom Brady world, because he could contribute as a change-of-pace option even if he doesn’t win the starting job. But Eason and Fromm also have their strengths.

If the Patriots don’t take one of the top six quarterbacks, then they could wait until later in the draft to select Anthony Gordon, Jake Luton or Nate Stanley.

Who are the Patriots going to target at TE? Any draft prospects of note?
Here are the top tight end options in the draft:

Cole Kmet, Notre Dame: Best combination of size and athleticism at the position. Blocking is a work in progress.

Brycen Hopkins, Purdue: Undersized and more of a big receiver but productive.

Hunter Bryant, Washington: Another smaller tight end. Has more upside than Hopkins as a blocker, but he’s not quite as athletic.

Adam Trautman, Dayton: Small-school guy might be the most complete tight end in the class. His level of competition raises questions.

Harrison Bryant, FAU: Tall at 6-foot-5 and extremely productive but only 243 pounds. Didn’t test as well as expected and more bulk to improve blocking could slow him down further.

Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri: Really intriguing size (6-foot-5, 258 pounds) and speed (4.49-second 40-yard dash) and decent production.

Thaddeus Moss, LSU: Randy Moss’ son. Only one year of receiving production but good blocker despite being undersized.

Devin Asiasi, UCLA: Good size/speed combination but only one year of production.

Dalton Keene, Virginia Tech: Slightly undersized (6-foot-4, 253 pounds) but impressive athleticism and decent production. More of a sleeper.

If I were in charge, the Patriots would try to grab Kmet, Hunter Bryant or Trautman and pair that player with Okweugbunam, Moss, Asiasi or Keene to snag two tight ends. The Patriots really need to bolster that position group in the draft.

Do you see scenario the Pats trade anyone for draft picks or free cap space for a free agent? If yes, who is on the shortlist?
Left guard Joe Thuney, who’s on a franchise tag, is the top candidate with a $14.781 million price tag.

I’m not advocating for trading any of these players, but here are the ways the Patriots could free up the most cap space by making a deal:

Thuney: $14.781M
LB Dont’a Hightower: $9.945M
WR Mohamed Sanu: $6.5M
RT Marcus Cannon: $4.49M
WR Julian Edelman: $4.3M
DT Lawrence Guy: $4M

Trading other players with high cap hits, like Stephon Gilmore, Shaq Mason, Patrick Chung, Jonathan Jones, Jason McCourty, Devin McCourty, James White, Rex Burkhead, David Andrews and Adam Butler would free up less than $4 million.

What?s Jakobi Myers role on the team in 2020?
Assuming a WR and TE is drafted/Acquired this draft
That really depends on how Meyers performs in training camp and the preseason (if those occur). I don’t believe Meyers is a lock for the roster assuming the Patriots add another wide receiver through the draft. But Meyers could also wind up as a starter if he outperforms players like N’Keal Harry, Sanu or Damiere Byrd in whatever offseason the Patriots can hold.

I still have high hopes for Meyers, but it’s not like he comes with a first-round pedigree. He still has to prove himself.

A few, and nice job cranking out the Pats related content during this time. How frequently do the Patriots draft for immediate need (TE) with high picks as opposed to looking ahead (S/LB)? Do the 30 year old scouting notes shine any light on who the Pats might choose at TE/WR/QB?
Ideally, the Patriots draft looking three years ahead rather than to the immediate future. But sometimes they do draft early for immediate need if they believe that player can be a Day 1 starter.

In the case of a tight end, the Patriots need a player at that position three years from now just as badly as they do today. So, I think tight end would fit both criteria.

As for Belichick’s old notes, it’s sometimes more about players I’d remove from the equation. Belichick said he wasn’t looking for an offensive lineman in a tight end’s jersey. A Patriots tight end will have to be a pass-catcher. Belichick said he’d be willing to take an “in betweener” at tight end as long as that player is big enough to get in the way. Hunter Bryant, Harrison Bryant and Keene would apply there. Hopkins might not be big enough to even get in the way.

For wide receivers, USC’s Michael Pittman seems to fit what Belichick is looking for as a player with good hands, size, disciplined routes, strength, leaping and some ability to pick up yards after catch. Harry’s old teammate at Arizona State, Brandon Aiyuk, is another great fit. He too has great hands, size, strength and leaping ability. He’s also fantastic at picking up yards after catch and running routes.

And as for quarterbacks, Belichick’s No. 1 rule was to make good decisions. I’m not sure if Jordan Love, who had 20 touchdowns and 17 interceptions, fits that criteria.

Belichick’s No. 2 criteria was arm strength. Eason has a big arm. Fromm does not.

Let’s go rapid fire.

When can we expect a dual fullback run play where Danny Vitale and James Develin lead the way for the running back? This is my football heaven.
The Patriots do have more fullbacks than tight ends on their roster right now.

It will be fun to see what Danny Vitale can offer on offense. He’s much more athletic than James Develin and Jakob Johnson.

if PAtriots dont draft any TE again?
Fans will riot in the streets of Foxboro from a safe 6-feet distance.

Still trying to keep up my normal content output while my 2-year-old daughter runs around and learns to get potty trained. It’s been interesting. Today was a productive day. For me and my daughter.

What?s the difference between a mallard and a duck
Isn’t a mallard a type of duck?

What role do you think Steve Belichick will assume this year?
I would guess the Patriots will go without an official defensive coordinator for the second straight year. So, I would guess Steve Belichick will continue to be secondary coach and mullet-rocker.

Will Jarret Stidham change his jersey number to #8 he used at Auburn? When can we expect to see the Patriots uniform tweak/ update?
I think he likes No. 4. He could have taken No. 8 last summer.

Can Stidham breakout like Jimmy G?
I think he can. He’s still a major question mark, but Stidham was better last summer than Jimmy Garoppolo was in 2014 as a rookie.

Your favourite anime?
Not an anime guy.

My favorite cartoon growing up was “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”

Guy rides into town on Friday, stays 3 days, leaves on Friday. How does he do it?
His camel is named Friday.

Who will be our kicker in 2020
Either Rodrigo Blankenship or Tyler Bass.

How are you
Doing well. I miss going to stores and seeing my friends, though.

What is your go-to quarantine snack, Doug? #MailDoug
Great question.

Nestle Toll House’s Confetti edible cookie dough has been my biggest go-to. I’ve also been enjoying Easter candy — Starburst jelly beans, Cadbury cream eggs, Cadbury mini eggs.

I’ve also got a bag of Cheetos paws that I’m working through. I had a can of jalapeno Pringles earlier in quarantine that was really good too.

Why is backyard one word and front yard 2 words???
I say we petition to change one of them. I would prefer “backyard” to be two words rather than front yard to be one. “Frontyard” looks odd.

is racecar spelled the same backwards and forwards intentionally?
Not a chance.

why do feet smell and noses run?
Another one of life’s unanswerable questions. I wish I could tell you.

What is the first restaurant you plan to visit when everything opens again? #MailDoug
Town Spa Pizza in Stoughton, Mass.

Thumbnail photo via Chuck Cook/USA TODAY Sports Images

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