PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE: WHY THE PATRIOTS SHOULD WAIT ON A QB

Its been said, numerous times actually over the last 10 years. Tom Brady is closer to the end of his fabled career than he is to the beginning. According to some pundits, who shall remain nameless, he should have went over a cliff already in terms of production.

According to TB12, his intention is to stick around until his mid-40’s. I’m barely over 40 and wanted to check into a hospital 20 minutes ago because of a cramp in my foot, but Tom is okay getting tossed around by defensive ends like a rag doll. I say, more power to him!

TB12

In what has turned into a seemingly annual event, Patriot fans, and draft pundits are speculating if this is the year that Belichick drafts Brady’s eventual replacement. We’ve seen it when Ryan Mallett was drafted. We saw it again when Jimmy Garapolo was nabbed in the 2nd round, or when Jacoby Brissett was taken in the 4th.

Well, Mallett is out of the league. Garapolo struck gold with the 49ers, and Jacoby Brissett is backing up Andrew Un-Lucky in Indianapolis. All the while Brady is stuck in the frozen tundra of Foxborough, suffering through shacking up with a uber-model wife while winning Superbowl after Superbowl.

Since its now the off-season, and the sticky part of the off-season. That time in between the Superbowl, and when stuff actually gets done. Its time to once again play the “is this the year game”. Some people will absolutely advocate that its time. They’ll talk about trading up for a Kyler Murray (not even remotely realistic), or about seeing if Missouri’s Drew Lock, or Duke’s Daniel Jones may slip into a target area that Pats could get up too.

I’m here to tell you, NO! N’YET! STOP! DO NOT PASS GO, DO NOT COLLECT $200!

Stop.png

2019 is not the year to draft Touchdown Tommy’s heir apparent. We’re at the tail end of a Quarterback gold rush. The last few seasons have seen a slew of teams get their “Franchise Quarterback” via the draft, including 5 last season.

You can FAIRLY safely put each of the 32 teams into 4 groups when it comes to their quarterback situation. 19 teams fall under the “all set” category. That means they have a young, to fairly young quarterback who they should be all set with for at least a few more seasons. Now, situations are always fluid. You can have regime changes altering the landscape, like we’re witnessing with the Arizona Cardinals. I have Arizona under the “all set” heading since they used a first rounder on Josh Rosen last year. Rosen has done nothing to make me think he does not warrant continued development opportunities. But since the Cardinals changed head coaches, they could look to re-set once again, if they believe Kyler Murray is a future STAR, which, reports indicate they do. You could also have a catastrophic injury situation like the Redskins (Alex Smith) or Vikings (Teddy Bridgewater) have endured in recent years.

There are four teams that fall squarely in the “In the Market” category. These are teams that will very, very likely address the quarterback position this off season.

I have six teams that are in the “Could Move On” area. They either have young quarterbacks like Marcus Mariota, or Jameis Winston who haven’t been great, but haven’t been dumpster fires either. Or they have mediocre youngish veterans like Derek Carr or Andy Dalton. Guys that aren’t bad per se, but could certainly be upgraded. Its not often you see a team like that though, in a position where they don’t need a quarterback, and could use help in other areas, use a first rounder at the position. The Ravens did it last year, and they seem pleased with their gamble.

Lamar Jackson

And lastly we have three teams that need to start looking for the heir apparent. The model is the Green Bay Packers and how they transitioned into Aaron Rodgers from Brett Favre (I would go older and say Joe Montana to Steve Young, but that was pre-free agency). These teams are competitive right now, but can absolutely see the end is near for their hall of fame signal callers.

Lets take those 19 “All Set” teams off the table:

  1. Buffalo Bills (Josh Allen)
  2. New York Jets (Sam Darnold)
  3. Baltimore Ravens (Lamar Jackson)
  4. Cleveland Browns (Baker Mayfield)
  5. Houston Texans (Deshaun Watson)
  6. Indianapolis Colts (Andrew Luck)
  7. Kansas City Chiefs (Patrick Mahomes)
  8. Dallas Cowboys (Dak Prescott)
  9. Philadelphia Eagles (Carson Wentz)
  10. Green Bay Packers (Aaron Rodgers)
  11. Detroit Lions (Matt Stafford)
  12. Minnesota Vikings (Kirk Cousins)
  13. Chicago Bears (Mitch Trubisky)
  14. Atlanta Falcons (Matt Ryan)
  15. Carolina Panthers (Cam Newton)
  16. San Francisco 49ers (Jimmy Garapolo)
  17. Seattle Seahawks (Russell Wilson)
  18. Los Angeles Rams (Jared Goff)
  19. Arizona Cardinals (Josh Rosen)

So now we need to consider the laws of supply and demand. Lets for a moment assume the Cardinals do NOT take Kyler Murray first overall. That means there are four quarterbacks in the draft that most pundits agree are either sure fire first rounders (Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins), or at least warrant consideration (Daniel Jones, Drew Lock). But even if the Cardinals did take Murray, that would mean that Rosen is then out there available for a trade. His move would then move the acquiring team from whatever group they’re under into the “All Set” group.

Similarly that would apply if something unexpected were to occur, like the Lions moving on from Matt Stafford, or the Seahawks or Cowboys not extending Wilson or Prescott.

There are four teams that are “In the Market”. There could very easily less than that by time we get to late April’s draft. Rumors, and common sense indicate that Nick Foles will end with one of these teams.

  1. Miami Dolphins
  2. Jacksonville Jaguars
  3. New York Giants
  4. Washington Redskins

Rumors persist that Nick Foles is headed to Jacksonville. It feels like every Giants fan has already ordered their Dwayne Haskins jersey. Although I’m inclined to agree with ESPN’s Will Cain, in that the Giants will have to move up from 6 to ensure they get him. Especially if Murray goes 1st. Even if its a smoke screen, I expect the Jets and Raiders to make the Giants believe they have to move up for their man. But lets assume that the Giants get Haskins. That then leaves Drew Lock and Daniel Jones for the Dolphins and Redskins.

Daniel Jones

I believe the Dolphins do NOT take one of these guys, I think they’re more likely to give a one year deal to a guy like Teddy Bridgewater. If Bridgewater pans out, then they have their man moving forward. If not, they dip back into a better 2020 QB class.

The Redskins HAVE to draft a guy this year, either in the first or second round. Alex Smith is NOT walking through that door in 2019, if ever. But the financial ramifications of having to pay Smith means that it really isn’t feasible to replace him with anything other than a QB on a rookie deal. I mean they COULD pay Nick Foles, but they’d have to gut the team. It makes sense that they’ll try to move forward with Colt McCoy and a rookie Quarterback. Whether that’s Jones or Luck depends entirely upon their preference.

Okay, so we had 4 “In the Market” teams, the Jaguars, Giants, and Redskins are taken care of with Foles, Haskins, and one of Lock/Jones. That leaves us with Josh Rosen out there (in this scenario Murray went to Zona, its also entirely possible the Dolphins go all in and trade for Murray, would Xavien Howard, DeVante Parker, their 2019 1st rounder, 2019 2nd rounder, and 2020 1st get it done? Doubtful, but that’s probably where talks would start) as well as the remaining Lock/Jones QB out there, and Miami not taken care of.

Lets just say Miami use a plug in guy for 2019, either Bridgewater, or another year of Tannehill. In doing so, they’d move themselves into the “Could Move On” category. Teams that could look for a QB in the 1st round of 2020.

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers
  2. Cincinnati Bengals
  3. Tennessee Titans
  4. Denver Broncos
  5. Oakland Raiders
  6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  7. Miami Dolphins

None of these teams are in desperate need for a young QB. Except the Dolphins, but we’ve outlined why they fall here. For the sake of numbers, lets say we’ve eliminated 2 of these teams. For arithmetic’s sake, it doesn’t matter which 2. But lets assume the remaining Drew Lock/Daniel Jones guy goes to one of these teams, and that one trades for Josh Rosen.

Josh Rosen

You’ve now got 5 teams who COULD be looking for a QB. And if its the Titans, Raiders, or Buccaneers moving on, you’ve then Derek Carr, Marcus Mariota, or Jameis Winston on the market, all are still young and capable of being a 16 game NFL starter. My gut tells me that Jameis Winston takes off this year under Bruce Arians, but that’s just me.

So you’ve got 5 teams, plus the 3 teams that are looking for their heir apparent:

  1. Los Angeles Chargers
  2. New Orleans Saints
  3. New England Patriots

So lets take those 5 teams above, and these 3 teams and say there are 8 teams, or a quarter of the league looking for a QB in the 2020 draft.

We’re talking worst case scenario here. That Derek Carr, Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Teddy Bridgewater, Andy Dalton, Joe Flacco, and Mason Rudolph (don’t forget the Steelers already used a 2018 2nd rounder on Mason Rudolph) all burn out and are deemed useless by NFL front offices.

There are in my estimation 6 quarterbacks who are looking worthy of 1st/2nd round consideration in 2020. And that doesn’t include THE prize, which is in 2021 where Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence looks like the surest bet since Andrew Luck graced the Stanford campus.

Full disclaimer, every year there are guys in “the next draft” who people are sure will be top end QBs. Matt Barkley, Geno Smith, and Jake Browning all come immediately to mind. But then again, there are always guys who jump up into the convo that weren’t expected. Guys like Mitchell Trubisky, Kyler Murray, or Baker Mayfield.

You could also luck out and have a mid-round guy in this draft snag a starting spot that no one expected. Could West Virginia’s Will Grier be this year’s Dak Prescott or Russell Wilson? Someone taken with the expectation of competing for the right to hold a clip board for a few seasons that wins the big boy job?

Regardless, we’ve now gotten the field down to 8 teams who COULD be in the market come 2020.

There are some names out there already being bantered about as draft prospects. The difference is, these seem to be better names than Daniel Jones, Drew Lock, or Will Grier, names that the Patriots could viably draft at 32, or at least they could viably move up from 32 to acquire.

Will Grier

The best case scenario for New England actually is that one of the teams who “could be looking” or are “looking for an heir apparent” decides they want a Jones/Lock/Grier and offer a 2020 first rounder for the Patriots 2019 first. Its entirely viable, the 32nd pick has value, especially when you’re talking about a team wanting to groom a quarterback. That 5th year option is big for NFL teams, vs. the second rounders only being on 4 year deals. Would it shock anyone if John Elway was looking to pair Joe Flacco with a young QB? The Saints and Patriots have a recent history of trading. The Saints don’t have a first this year, if they wanted to secure Brees’ back up, they could look to make that move.

That would give New England ammunition to move up in 2020 to nab who they actually want instead of who may fall to them (and I say fall, while its not realistic to expect that the Patriots will ALWAYS be drafting in the 30’s, its also not realistic to assume they’re going to suddenly bottom out).

So lets take a look at some names to keep an eye on for the 2020 NFL draft:

  1. Tua Tagovailoa – Alabama
  2. Justin Hebert – Oregon
  3. Jake Fromm – Georgia
  4. Nate Stanley – Iowa
  5. Jacob Eason – Washington
  6. K.J. Costello – Stanford

And that doesn’t even count Jalen Hurts, who by all rights will be the top pick in next year’s draft. Want proof? Baker Mayfield, transferred from Texas Tech to Oklahoma, and became the #1 pick in 2018. Kyler Murray transferred from Texas A&M to Oklahoma and seems destined to be the #1 pick in 2019. Seems to me that Jalen Hurts, who just transferred to Oklahoma from Alabama is poised to be the #1 pick in 2020. I say that only half in jest. I wouldn’t be shocked if he and Lincoln Riley made it happen. Especially if Murray and Mayfield carry themselves well in 2019.

Lastly of course we have the 2021 prize that everyone will be looking towards. Trevor Lawrence. The option of Trevor Lawrence looming will effect someone from taking a QB in 2020. And that’s just Lawrence, if former Georgia Bulldog and current Ohio State Buckeye Justin Fields lives up to the hype, he’ll also be near the top of many draft boards.

The bottom line is that ebb and flow of QB needs in the NFL seems to make it profitable to try and wait for 2020 if you can. And New England can. Too many teams in recent years have put a lot of chips into the QB pot, and will be afraid to fold this early in their hand. If the Patriots slow play this, they could walk away with a giant pot, full of value.

Jake Fromm

Even if they aren’t in a position to draft Jake Fromm in 2020 (which I thoroughly believe would be the ideal scenario), they’d be better off taking Nate Stanley in 2020, than Drew Lock in 2019.

Should New England draft an heir apparent in 2019. Yes? But it should be Brian Hoyer’s heir apparent. A Brett Rypein, Clayton Thorson, or Tyree Jackson pick in the mid to late rounds would be perfect. Danny Etling is not the answer, but one of those guys could be a cost effective option as a back up QB. And ideally, if you plan on drafting someone in 2020, you’d rather not have 2 rookie QBs. So draft one this year, a back up level guy, of whom there are plenty available, and look to strike it rich in next year’s market.

 

  • Written by Jason Sullivan
  • Find us on Twitter at @TopDucker or on Facebook at You’re Ducking Right

 

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