Devereaux: New England Should Wait Until 2021 to Draft a Quarterback

The New England Patriots have arguably the worst quarterback corps in the league, sporting Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer.

Both players have spent time with legendary quarterback Tom Brady, serving as his back up for more than a year. With Brady leaving the team, the Patriots find themselves looking at a 23-year-old sophomore quarterback in Stidham and a 34-year-old veteran in Hoyer. 

Once Brady announced his move to Tampa Bay, the team made it clear that they will go forward with the development of Stidham, who was a fourth-round pick in the 2019 draft. A very raw prospect, Stidham had only one real drive in the 2019 season, which ended with a pick-six against the New York Jets. 

This leaves the Patriots with two options: signing Cam Newton or Jameis Winston or opting for a quarterback via the draft.

Newton and Winston have been available for two weeks now, and the Patriots have not shown any interest in either player. This makes it reasonable for everyone to think they will draft a quarterback in 2020. However, if the Patriots are smart, they will wait another year before drafting their next franchise quarterback. 

The Patriots have the 23rd overall pick in the 2020 draft, where both Justin Herbert of Oregon or Jordan Love of Utah could fall. But are either of those quarterbacks realistically going to drop to 23 in the hands of Belichick? Unlikely, especially when teams like the Chargers, Dolphins, Colts, and Raiders could select a quarterback. 

Although Justin Herbert could possibly be a sleeper of a pick, the chances of him falling to 23 are very slim. Belichick has rarely kept his first-round pick in drafts, and would rather select a quarterback in the later rounds. 

Jordan Love’s case of being drafted would mean that the Patriots would rebuild slowly. Even if he is better than Stidham and Hoyer, playing Love early on could stunt his development as his confidence and morale would be heavily lowered. They would have to slowly ready Love into the NFL style of play, which could take some time. For instance, Aaron Rodgers sat behind Brett Favre for three years, and Jimmy Garoppolo sat behind Tom Brady for a few years before getting his chance to play. 

The Patriots have a trio of third-round picks where another big named quarterback could be taken: Jalen Hurts of Oklahoma.

Hurts had a great season in Oklahoma, in which Oklahoma had produced back-to-back No. 1 picks at the position (Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray). Although during his time in Oklahoma was only a one-season starter, Hurts showed potential, but the Patriots should not draft him.

What the Patriots need is to wait another year to draft a quarterback. 

Although they are severely lacking at the position, waiting another year could benefit the team. If they continue forward with Stidham or Hoyer as the starting quarterback, the team will ultimately collapse into having their worst season in the Belichick era. But, this will not be the fall of a dynasty. This could actually be the start of another long term dynasty.

In the 2021 draft class, two big-name quarterbacks could ultimately be franchise-worthy players. In return, this would allow the Patriots to use all 12 of their picks in this draft in rebuilding the offense.

Trevor Lawrence out of Clemson is the biggest name available at the position for the 2021 Draft. And if the Patriots are mediocre next year, then they will win the prize of drafting Lawrence. Although Lawrence might be a top-five player in the draft, 90 percent of NFL teams have young or in their prime quarterbacks, meaning Lawerence could drop or be easy to trade up for. Lawrence is built just like Brady, as he is 6-foot-6 and roughly 220 pounds. A very accurate passer with a strong arm, Lawrence can also extend plays with his legs despite not being the fleetest of foot.

Play-action is Lawrence’s best ability, as he can easily sell the fake handoff. 

Lawrence and Belichick could easily replace the Brady aspect of the play-action pass. Lawrence is also more agile and faster than Brady and could extend the play longer which will open up defenses. This also creates more plays for Belichick and Josh McDaniels.

The glamor of Lawrence is also his playmaking ability.

Just like Brady, he sells fakes, handoffs, and is very accurate with the ball. Lawrence would be the best replacement for Brady in New England. 

Lawrence would be a day one starter for the Patriots and would only have to work on a few things to become their next franchise quarterback. Although Lawrence is not perfect, he can arguably be the best and most consistent quarterback to come out of the draft in two years. The Patriots if they wait one more year to find their quarterback could win the 2021 draft lottery by selecting the Clemson product. 

Even if they are unable to land Lawrence, they could still draft a first-round talent in Justin Fields out of Ohio State. Fields would be a quicker rebuilding piece than Jordan Love.

Fields has a natural passing ability and is quick on his feet. Although Belichick prefers pocket-passing quarterbacks, Fields could provide a great play-action scheme that Belichick loves to run. Fields is also very versatile is his play, which could unlock a new section of the Patriots’ playbook.

The New England Patriots should roll the dice on the Stidham for 2020, but with eyes on the 2021 NFL Draft. If New England plays their cards right, there’s a strong chance they can reclaim the AFC East throne before long.

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