Will Patriots find their next QB in the draft?

First in a series looking at how the Patriots could fill positions through the NFL Draft, scheduled for April 23-25.

Have you heard that the Patriots lost Tom Brady?

Of course, you have. Everyone knows by now that the Patriots no longer employ their future Hall-of-Fame quarterback, who took advantage of his free agency. We also know that the current depth chart is Jarrett Stidham, Brian Hoyer and Cody Kessler. Although it’s possible that the Patriots will roll with Stidham, the team could be looking at quarterbacks in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Finding a franchise quarterback is one of the most difficult tasks in sports. That’s why the Patriots should take a shot in every draft until they are absolutely certain they have the right guy.

Since 2000, head coach Bill Belichick has drafted 10 players at the position. The average drafted Patriots quarterback stands just over 6 feet 3 inches, weighs more than 225 pounds and has a hand size of 9.35 inches. Athletically, he would be the type of athlete who runs the 40-yard dash in 4.89, has a vertical leap of more than 30 inches, a broad jump of more than 108 inches as well as at least a 7.12 3-cone and a 4.34 20-yard shuttle time.

Crunching in the testing numbers, we looked at every quarterback in this upcoming draft. Here are five potential fits that the Patriots could consider this month:

Justin Herbert, Oregon

According to our data, Herbert is the best athletic fit. The Oregon quarterback hits on seven of our eight testing target numbers. Herbert is a solid athlete for someone who stands 6 feet 6 inches. His measurables match NFL veterans such as Andrew Luck, Josh Allen, Daniel Jones and Blaine Gabbert.

Herbert is projected to be the third quarterback drafted. He’s smart (two-time All-American first-team honoree) and has a big arm. Will he be there when the Patriots pick at No. 23? No chance. Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, however, met with Herbert in Indianapolis at the NFL Combine. The Patriots were also at his Pro Day in Oregon.

Steven Montez, Colorado

Montez is projected to be a Day 3 draft pick. He’s the second-best fit, however, when it comes to size and athletic traits. He’s a solid athlete who tested high in the 40 (4.68 seconds) and broad jump (117 inches). Athletically, he compares with Carson Palmer, Donovan McNabb and former Patriots draft pick Kevin O’Connell.

At Colorado, he was a dual-threat. Last season, he threw for 2,808 yards with 17 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He also ran for 960 yards and scored 11 rushing touchdowns in his collegiate career. The Patriots attended his Pro Day in Colorado.

Jordan Love, Utah State

Love is a projected first-round pick next month and someone who people have started to project as a Patriots pick. He’s a solid athlete and ties for the third-best quarterback fit within our metrics. Love hits Patriots’ averages on height, hand size, 40-yard dash, vertical leap and broad jump.

But Love is tough to evaluate because he’s coming off a rough 2019 season. Last year, he threw for 3,402 yards, but he threw only 20 passing touchdowns and a whopping 17 interceptions. In 2018, he looked like the real deal with 3,567 passing yards, 32 touchdowns and six interceptions. The Patriots met with Love at the NFL Combine.

James Morgan, Florida International

Morgan is a prospect who is likely to go in the mid-rounds. He ties with Love, Jacob Eason and Kelly Bryant for the third-best athletic fit with five matches — height, weight, hand size, 40 time and broad jump. His testing numbers compare favorably to quarterbacks such as Matt Ryan and Kyle Orton.

Morgan transferred to FIU from Bowling Green. His first season, he became the Conference USA newcomer of the year with a school-record 26 passing touchdowns. He has a big arm, but last year, his numbers were down (2,585 yards, 14 touchdowns) because of a knee injury. The Patriots met with him at the East-West Shrine game.

Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma

Hurts doesn’t land in our top-five athletic fits only because he didn’t test in the 3-cone or shuttle run. He’s also undersized at 6-foot-1 and is considered a dual-threat quarterback. There’s not a lot that puts him in with your prototypical Patriots quarterback. It’s possible, however, that the Pats will try something new.

Hurts is known as a winner. Coaches laud his leadership, toughness and character. That screams Patriot. He also was coached by Belichick’s friend, Nick Saban. Last year, he threw for 3,851 yards and 32 touchdowns while rushing for 1,298 yards. The Pats were at his Pro Day.

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