April 28, 2018

Draft an Heir for Brady? Looks Like Patriots Will Wait Till Next Year

We found out on Thursday and Friday night just what the Patriots really thought of the second tier of the 2018 quarterback class: Not much.

New England would have had to move heaven and earth to get in position to draft Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, USC’s Sam Darnold, Wyoming’s Josh Allen or UCLA’s Josh Rosen. Take them out of the equation, and the Patriots still had two shots at Louisville’s Lamar Jackson. And had they stayed put with their picks, they’d have had four shots at Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph.

So the Patriots let the top six quarterbacks come off the board without incident, and presumably will go into the 2018 season the same way they came out of 2017—without a successor for Tom Brady. Maybe they draft one Saturday. Maybe they yank ex-Heisman winner Johnny Manziel off the scrapheap in May. But they won’t have taken the big swing many expected they would, meaning there’s a significant chance we’ll be right back here in 2019, with the team still looking for an heir apparent to a player who, at that point, will be on the doorstep of 42.

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Grade: A+

Instead of using their considerable early-round draft capital to find the next Tom Brady (which, by the way, may never exist, and couldn’t be found in this imperfect class of rookie QBs), the Patriots decided to replenish the talent around the actual Tom Brady, who is coming off an MVP season, which many seemed to forget this offseason. Brady’s departure—whenever it comes—will force a drastic resetting of this franchise one way or another. Instead of investing valuable draft picks on guesses for how to minimize that discomfort, New England spend those picks on players who can help collect more Super Bowls right now.

With Isaiah Wynn, the situation at offensive tackle becomes less direr. And this selection was amplified by the Day 2 trade for gigantic 49ers right tackle Trent Brown, which could allow Wynn to slide to left guard, where his body type is better suited. That would give the Patriots an alternative to re-upping inconsistent pass protector Joe Thuney in 2020. Sony Michel, Wynn’s teammate at Georgia, offers dimension to the stable ground game that free-agent signee Jeremy Hill couldn’t be trusted to provide.

Cornerback Duke Dawson is a more traditional slot cover guy, ending the experiments of guys like Patrick Chung and Eric Rowe playing slightly out of position inside. Bill Belichick traded away the rest of New England’s second, third-and fourth-round picks—usually he gets overzealously lauded for this, but not here. The grade below has nothing to do with the trades and everything to do with a once-again Super Bowl ready franchise having the wisdom to build around its legendary MVP QB rather than taking guesses at how to one day replace him.