By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The New England Patriots’ plans for the 2020 NFL Draft aren’t hard to decipher.
With Tom Brady officially out of town by way of a two-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Patriots are looking for the next guy. (An almost impossible task, all things considered.) Now, the Patriots are expected to move ahead with a quarterback competition between veteran journeyman Brian Hoyer and second-year pro Jarrett Stidham, and while it’s a competition that Patriots coach Bill Belichick appears genuinely interested in seeing play out, the rest of the league is sitting on the edge of their seat waiting to see who Belichick & Co. tab as the next guy at Patriot Place.
“Everybody knows that they’re going to take a quarterback,” Rapoport said during a TV spot on the NFL Network earlier this week. “When they released Cody Kessler, it opened up a spot in their quarterback room. They are going to select someone. Obviously, it does get complicated. They don’t have a second-round pick. So it seems to be, pick someone in the first round or pick someone in the mid-rounds. There’s really no in-between for the Patriots.”
If we’re to read into the Patriots’ interviewing and research over the last few weeks, this is hardly a surprise. The Patriots have been linked to Utah State’s Jordan Love, potential late-round gamble and James Madison product Ben DiNucci, and there’s been rumors of the Patriots being in love with the potential of Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert.
And speaking with reporters earlier this week, Belichick talked about what a unique crop of quarterbacks this draft class features in terms of skillset and its range of talents that could extend into the pro ranks.
“Each guy has his own set of skills; he has his own circumstances. Some players have played well over a sustained period of time; some players have had an exceptional year in the past year or two – maybe 2019, in some cases 2018 – and then for whatever the reasons were, the two years didn’t quite match up,” Belichick said. “But, that’s I’d say about the way it always is. There are always a variety of things you have to try to put together and look at, but certainly there’s a lot of interesting players and guys who have really good arms, can really throw the ball and some very athletic players, some players that have won a lot of games and have shown their competitiveness and instinctiveness.
“So, interesting group and probably one that has decent depth to it.”
But the process is fascinating to all involved, according to Rapoport.
“No one has really seen what the Patriots look for in a top-flight quarterback,” Rapoport noted. “It’s been so long, really since Jimmy Garoppolo, since they’ve used a premium pick on a quarterback. That’s why there is so much intrigue surrounding them and who they actually like. And if one of the top quarterbacks slides — like Tua [Tagovailoa] or Jordan Love — are the Patriots going to pick them — and when — is going to be the biggest storyline of the draft.
“Everyone expects them to make some sort of move.”
The Patriots enter the 2020 NFL Draft with a staggering 12 picks, but as noted by Rapoport, will have a massive gap between their first and second picks of this year’s draft, from No. 23 overall to No. 87 overall.