(Originally Published here on April 17th, 2018)
….If he is still available
The Patriots have a few glaring holes on their roster, but they have the draft capital to draft Lamar Jackson. Consider a scenario where Jackson drops to the second round, and the Patriots hold the 43rd pick. The quarterback desperate Broncos could decide to pick two rookie quarterbacks to compete against each other, but I cannot picture the other teams ahead of the Patriots using their picks on quarterback depth.
Another issue with the Patriots drafting Lamar Jackson is that they have been linked to Mason Rudolph and brought him in for a workout earlier. They will be making a mistake if they decide to go for the prototypical tall quarterback who has accuracy issues. The Patriots don’t need a guy who opposing defenses can game plan around easily, and one who struggles in bad weather. Lamar Jackson has shown he is getting better every year, and his running abilities are just an extra bonus.
Of course, the Patriots are not the only other team with an aging starting quarterback, and no heir apparent on the current roster. The Chargers with Phillip Rivers is one threat in the draft, as they hold the 17th and 48th picks. The Cardinals are also another possibility with the 15th pick. Even though he should be healthy now, they have already stated that they don’t intend to rush newly acquired Sam Bradford back to the field, so they could benefit from giving some healthy competition to Mike Glennon. Arizona would be a great place for Jackson to get some playing time in practice, while also not being pressured heavily to succeed right away and take the starting job. Former Cardinals Head Coach Bruce Arians has praised Jackson’s ability as well, likening him to a hard working version of Vince Young. Yet these teams are in peculiar situations, quarterback isn’t their biggest fault on their rosters, and a few key pieces could give their aging stars some more playoff appearances.
Lamar Jackson is touted to be a smart, mobile, and accurate passer, who needs a year or two to sit and develop his game. The last part is important because it may scare off the other quarterback needy teams who need someone to step in day one. After seeing what Dak Prescott could do with an all-star offensive line and the prolific Ezekiel Elliot at running back, teams are going to be more comfortable taking a quarterback who might not be extremely polished if he has other promising qualities. There are not many other teams that have this perfect of a situation though. While the Bills are in an excellent draft position to pick Lamar Jackson, they would also be better off seeing what A.J McCarron and Lesean Mccoy can do with a functional offensive line, something the Bills have struggled to assemble in recent years.
If no other teams decide to trade up and pick Lamar Jackson, the Patriots need to draft him. They shouldn’t try to play it safe with Mason Rudolph, when such an exciting prospect could be available. As long as the Patriots don’t enter the season with Hoyer as the only back-up for Brady, New England fans should be happy.