By Alex Barth, 985TheSportsHub.com
Whether Tom Brady comes back or not, the Patriots will need to invest some serious draft capital in a quarterback this April.
After QB meetings with the media at the NFL Combine Tuesday morning, we now know of at least five quarterbacks the Patriots have met with during the offseason.
Keep in mind a meeting does not necessarily guarantee a draft selection, or even interest. While the Patriots did meet with Jarrett Stidham at the combine in 2019, they met with four other quarterbacks as well. That includes two meetings with Will Grier, who the team passed on just 13 picks before he was selected by the Panthers 100th overall. In 2018 the team met with seven quarterbacks in the pre-draft process including Mason Rudolph and Lamar Jackson, but passed on all of them before taking Danny Etling in the seventh round.
That being said, the meetings are as much as we have to go off of right now. The Patriots stacked there schedule with a range of QB prototypes, from traditional pocket passer to potential wide receiver. Here is an overview of each player, and whether or not they’d be a fit with the Patriots.
You can find the full list of players the Patriots have met with here.
Jake Fromm, Georgia
While this class is full of risky, high-ceiling quarterbacks, Jake Fromm is just the opposite of that. He certainly has the skills to hang around the NFL for an extended period of time (à la Chase Daniel), Fromm doesn’t look like the kind of player who can be a game-changing dynamic quarterback.
Fromm started 43 straight games at Georgia beginning Week 1 his freshman year. In his three seasons under center the Bulldogs went 36-7 winning the SEC East each year. He went 2-2 in bowl games, with a loss in the CFP Championship Game to Alabama in 2017. Over his three years in Athens, Fromm completed 63.3 percent of his passes for 8,236 yards with 78 touchdowns and 18 interceptions.
However, Fromm had massive help during that run. The Bulldogs had five players taken in the first four rounds of the draft between 2017 and 2018, and could have as many as four more drafted in that range this year. It’s fair to say Fromm succeeded based off their talents more than the other way around.
The 21-year-old Fromm is technically sound and mentally advanced, and rarely put his team in position to lose games during his time in college. The problem is he didn’t do much to elevate them either. He struggles on longer throws, both down the field and outside the numbers.
Those throws often come out slow and arrive late, something defensive backs will feast on at the next level. Adding to the issues is his hesitation against the blitz, he has a habit of not setting his feet and throwing off-base when rushers are coming instead of standing in, delivering the throw and taking the hit. He’s willing to take a sack which can negate the problem at times, but things can get ugly when he tries to force the ball out against pressure.
The Patriots could do a lot worse than Fromm at the draft, especially if they want to avoid a full rebuild. He’d fit in well with the Patriots quick-hitting, between the numbers passing game and Josh McDaniels would be able to capitalize on his eagerness to throw to running backs. However, winning with him would mean keeping the roster from last season as intact as possible while adding multiple offensive threats who can make plays after the catch. Some of his flaws aren’t necessarily fixable, and need to be hidden by scheme.
Depending on what happens at the combine and his pro day, Fromm could be anywhere from a first to a third round pick. Given what the Patriots have in 2019 fourth-round pick Jarrett Stidham, they may be better off using their picks in Fromm’s range this year to improve other aspects of the roster.
Jordan Love, Utah State
It’d be nearly impossible to find two quarterbacks more opposite than Jake Fromm and Jordan Love. While Fromm is the safe bet, Love is all ceiling. He’s drawn comparisons to some of the elite throwers in the game, but he has serious strides to make before he can get to that point.
Love split time as the Aggies’ quarterback as a redshirt-freshman in 2017, showing tremendous upside but inconsistent ability. It wasn’t until he became the full time starter the next year that he arrived on the national stage. 2018 proved to be a breakout year that saw Love finish top-15 in the nation in passing yards and touchdowns. His accuracy notably increased as well, with a completion percentage 10 points higher than the previous year. The Aggies finished the year ranked No. 22 in the nation with an 11-2 record and a New Mexico Bowl win. Massive coaching and player overhaul resulted in a regression for love in 2019.
In terms of raw ability to throw the football, Love is among the elite quarterbacks in this draft. He has pro-ready arm strength, can throw on the run, and is able to release the ball from multiple arm slots. He can extend plays and harass defenses with his legs, although he’s more of a scrambler than a runner. At 6-foot-4 and 223 pounds, he looks the part of an NFL quarterback.
While his cannon will have teams drooling, Love will need to sure up the finesse elements of his game to make it at the next level. He trusts his arm too much at times, forcing the ball downfield into coverage while missing openings underneath. There are also concerns about the mental aspect of the NFL. At Utah State, Love ran an offense that used only 11 personnel and was designed to get receivers open for him. Would he be able to handle a playbook as deeply complex as the Patriots’ and make the reads that go with it?
With Love, it’ll all come down to where he ends up. The flaws in his game are coachable, but he needs to be in an organization that can be patient and hands-on with his development. Love won’t be able to come right in and run an NFL offense, which limits his realistic landing spots in the draft. He’ll likely need a Patrick Mahomes-type year (or Aaron Rodgers-type years) in order to get acclimated and coached up. If Tom Brady returns for another year or two, he becomes an ideal fit in New England (if he’s not off the board by the time they pick). However, if the Patriots are searching for an immediate starting quarterback with the 23rd pick, he’s not the guy.
Jake Luton, Oregon State
Luton missed most of the 2017 season due to a spine injury, but was able to bounce back and win the Comeback Player of the Year award in 2019. A two-time transfer through Idaho and Ventura Community College, Luton is defined by his size and quickness. At 6-foot-7, 230 pounds he is surprisingly mobile. His sound footwork allows him to extend plays and he is adept to redirecting receivers as things break down.
While you might expect a quarterback of his size to be able to stretch the field, his arm strength is limited by a jerky throwing motion that can hurt his accuracy as well. He rarely threw the ball more than 20 yards down the field at Oregon State. This can lead to him being quick to take checkdowns, especially against the blitz. Compound that with his 2017 spinal injury, and he doesn’t look to be more than a backup at best.
James Morgan, FIU
A transfer from Bowling Green, Morgan has high upside as a pocket passer. At 6-foot-4, 213 pounds, he can zip the ball all over the field. He keeps the ball tight to his body on his drop back and can unleash it quickly with an unorthodox throwing motion that’s somewhat of a cross between Philip Rivers and Aaron Rodgers. Whether it’s standing in to take a hit or throwing into man coverage. While that can hurt him as much as it helps him at times, it’s certainly a coachable fix.
The issues with Morgan all stem from consistency. If he can refine his mechanics and become a better decision maker, he could develop into a transitional quarterback at the next level in the right system. If his career had been 10-15 years earlier he probably would be receiving more hype, but teams just aren’t looking for stoic pocket passers anymore. He’s like if Blake Bortles had been scouted correctly.
If the Patriots don’t want to change their offense post-Brady then Morgan would be a fit, but he’s not the next guy. Using a day three pick on Morgan as a project quarterback wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world though.
Malcom Perry, Navy
Like most Navy quarterbacks, Malcolm Perry will most likely be moving to a skill position when he reaches the NFL. Perhaps even more reason for the Patriots to meet with him as they try to add versatility to their roster. Perry ran for 2,017 yards and 21 touchdowns his final year in Annapolis, and spent time as a wide receiver his sophomore and junior years.
Given Bill Belichick’s fondness for the Naval Academy, many thought Perry’s predecessor Keenan Reynolds was a lock for New England back in 2016, but he ended up in Baltimore. Expect to hear a similar narrative around Perry in the coming months.
Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Hate mail? Let him hear it on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at Alexander.Barth@bbgi.com.