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One strategy Patriots should avoid if they plan to draft a QB

One strategy Patriots should avoid if they plan to draft a QB originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

We need to stop treating the Patriots like the champions they used to be and acknowledge the reality of what they are, which is swaddled and gurgling in the earliest stages of a rebuild.

They’re nowhere close to contending, but that hasn’t stopped us (or them) from acting like a return to the glory days imminently awaits. Case in point: their reported plans at quarterback.

Per MassLive, the Patriots intend to draft a QB at No. 3 and sign a veteran who could let the rookie redshirt. This is the Green Bay model, from Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers to Jordan Love, and with former Packers exec Eliot Wolf now calling the shots in New England, it makes sense to follow a similar route.

Except the comparison is pure lunacy, and if the Patriots don’t recognize that, then their rebuild is off to a delusional start.

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The Packers didn’t import some rando to mentor a rookie. They started all-time greats (Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers) who had no interest in relinquishing their jobs, let alone mentoring their replacements. Green Bay didn’t move on from either guy until both were practically 40. There is no “Packers model” – they started two Hall of Famers in 30 effing years!

The Patriots lack that luxury. Whomever they draft is going to succeed Mac Jones, and I suspect McCorkle will only worsen in our eyes as the years pass. The Patriots aren’t the Packers. They’re just one of the desperate masses hoping to luck into a quarterback while praying they don’t get Zach Wilson, JaMarcus Russell, or Mitch Trubisky instead.

The other irrelevant example everyone cites is Patrick Mahomes, who backed up Alex Smith in Kansas City after being drafted 10th overall in 2017. Did the Chiefs or Mahomes really gain anything by sitting?

Kansas City won 12 games and then lost in the wild card round to the Titans. Who’s to say Mahomes wouldn’t have given them a better chance that afternoon? As it is, he not only won the starting job a year later, he was named NFL MVP. I wouldn’t be so quick to file his gap year under the heading of “necessary.”

If the rookie is the real deal, he should take the stopgap’s job immediately. The list of young QBs to start Game 1 in recent years includes C.J. Stroud, Joe Burrow, Kyler Murray, Jameis Winston, Andrew Luck, Cam Newton, and Matthew Stafford, who all went on to become Pro Bowlers, for whatever that’s worth.

Of those who held clipboards for at least a year, Drew Brees, Carson Palmer, Philip Rivers, Tony Romo, and of course, Tom Brady, are the standouts. Still, most of them sat behind someone established, with the exception of Palmer, who inexplicably watched Jon Kitna for a year after being draft first overall, which, I’m sorry, is a very Bengals thing to do.

Don’t be like the Bengals.

We’re also diminishing an important consideration, and that’s finding the right veteran to play the role of bridge. Consider some of the names that have been thrown out there. Baker Mayfield just led the Bucs to the second round of the playoffs, but now he’s going to caddy for a rookie? Russell Wilson was a superstar for 10 years, with a famous wife and as many commercials as Jayson Tatum. Now he’s going to sign as a placeholder?

The actual list of possibilities is far more pedestrian. If the Patriots think anyone wants to watch Jacoby Brissett or Joe Flacco instead of Drake Maye or Jayden Daniels next year, I am here to inform them they are drunk. Today’s NFL is about maximizing the window of a quarterback’s rookie contract, and unless he’s just completely overwhelmed (which is, of course, its own problem), it makes little sense from a financial or competitive standpoint to sit him behind someone else.

Let the kids play, as MLB likes to say. This is even more true in the NFL, and the Patriots should stop pretending they’re a team with the luxury of waiting around for a young QB to develop in the practice bubble and the league’s worst weight room.

The Pats are a have-not hoping to draft a franchise quarterback. They’re not good enough to wait a year to see him play.

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