New England Patriots

Former Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia joined Bob Socci and Ted Johnson on the 98.5 The Sports Hub Sunday Football Show, and shed light on what the team wants out of the quarterback position. What he said isn’t the least bit surprising, but if there’s anyone with true insight into what Bill Belichick wants from his signal-caller, it’s “Scar.”

The now-retired former OL coach, who worked for the Patriots from 1991-2013 and returned after his first retirement for a second stint in 2016-19, emphasized the qualities that made Tom Brady an intriguing flyer for Belichick in the 2000 NFL Draft. Just like anyone who pays attention to the Pats should realize, Belichick isn’t going to fall into any traps about physical tools like arm strength, pure athleticism, or mobility. Those things matter, but the most important factor is his mind for the game.

“For me, I think [quarterback] is the most cerebral position in sports,” Scarnecchia said. “What you see before the ball is snapped, what you see after the ball is snapped, and how well you can anticipate, and how well you can – in the passing game – get the ball out in rhythm. If you have to run out of there you run out of there, if you can’t, you move within the pocket and get the ball out on time, and make all the checks correctly.

“I think whoever they draft … has to be able to do all those things, because that to me is the key to it all. Those are the guys that last long in this program. Those are the guys that are successful in this league, and they come in varying degrees of athleticism and speed or not.”

The criteria is consistent with a 1991 scouting report from Belichick, which explained what he wants out of the QB position (“#1 is to make good decisions”). It’s worth noting, however, that Scarnecchia still acknowledges the importance of being able to move within or out of the pocket in order to make plays under pressure. That’s why a QB prospect like Alabama’s Mac Jones or Florida’s Kyle Trask are ranked below their more athletic counterparts.

So would the Patriots look at a prospect like Ohio State’s Justin Fields or North Dakota State’s Trey Lance as guys who have enough of those intangible mental qualities? Unfortunately for the Patriots, the draft capital required to trade up to get one of them may be more than they’re willing to pay. But you can be certain that Belichick isn’t taking the plunge with a high draft pick at quarterback unless he’s confident he will consistently make good decisions with the ball and run the offense cleanly and efficiently, regardless of how fast or strong he is.

Listen below for the full podcast, and keep scrolling for a list of day 2 options in the draft if the Pats miss out on the top QB prospects.

MORE: Are The Patriots Really High On Justin Fields?

Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @mattydsays. You can also email him at mdolloff@985thesportshub.com.