New England Patriots

Louisville Cardinals quarterback Lamar Jackson speaks to the media during the 2018 NFL Combine. (Photo Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports)

The Patriots’ interest in Lamar Jackson is apparently very real. And it could be higher than any team in the National Football League.

Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report wrote on Wednesday that teams who have met with Jackson since the Combine were impressed with his “intelligence and football acumen.” He added that sources believe the Patriots are the team “most interested” in drafting the Louisville quarterback.

Jackson is widely projected as at least a late-first or early-second-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, which runs April 26-28 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The Patriots hold picks No. 23, 31, 43, and 63 in the first two rounds.

Louisville Cardinals quarterback Lamar Jackson passes the ball against the Kentucky Wildcats. (Photo Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports)

Add Freeman’s report to a recent story by fellow NFL writer Charles Robinson, who detailed the relationship between Bill Belichick and Louisville and the Patriots’ deep “pipeline” of information on Jackson. Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio also attended Jackson’s Pro Day workout.

Another person who apparently wouldn’t mind Jackson coming into the fold in Foxboro: Tom Brady. The Patriots quarterback weighed in on the possibility with an Instagram comment, responding to a theory by the NFL Network’s Bucky Brooks that he believes Bill Belichick wants “a player like Lamar Jackson” to be his next quarterback.

Unless Jackson flies too high up draft boards in the next couple of weeks, the Patriots will be well-equipped to use one of their early picks on Jackson, if they want to do so.

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