NFL Network's Ian Rapoport went on The Rich Eisen Show and said that the New England Patriots, who won't have six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady on their roster for the first time since 1999, are "very firmly in the quarterback mix" in the upcoming NFL draft, which begins April 23.
Rapoport said (beginning at the 2:01 mark):
"I would say the Patriots are very firmly in the quarterback mix. They are just so far back, so I'm having trouble figuring out what are they actually going to do.
"They're up in the 20s. Jordan Love sliding into the teens and then grabbing him is a scenario I've thought a lot about.
"They've also had some success with Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round, so maybe they try to repeat that.
"They don't have a second-rounder, so they either could trade back and create one maybe, or they could use some third and fourth and trade up in the first round.
"... The Patriots are going to take a quarterback probably with a premium pick. I would just imagine it's not at the pick they currently have. I see the Patriots moving up for a quarterback or sliding back and then maybe also taking a quarterback."
Second-year pro Jarrett Stidham and veteran Brian Hoyer are currently the top two quarterbacks on the Patriots' depth chart.
Stidham looks to have a hold on the starting gig right now, according to an April 1 article from Jeff Howe of The Athletic:
"Barring unforeseen circumstances, Stidham appears to have the inside track on the starting job, which we explained following the Brian Hoyer signing. The Patriots like Stidham, but they also recognize that everyone is an unknown commodity until they step under center for the first time in live action.
"At this point, a source has said the Patriots have expressed no interest in signing Cam Newton or trading for Andy Dalton — the two most popular speculated moves — nor do they have the cap space to make such a transaction.
"So it'll be Stidham. It'd hardly be a surprise if they open camp with Hoyer as the starter and force Stidham to wrest away the job, but a dose of adversity should help the kid if that's the route they choose. Either way, as long as Stidham maintains his pace from last summer, it should be his job."
Rapoport echoed the team's confidence in Stidham to Eisen: "My understanding is they very much like Stidham. They think his potential is great. There's a lot of positivity and a lot to like. The problem is they don't actually know because he's never done it."
Stidham, selected in the fourth round of the 2019 draft out of Auburn, excelled in last year's preseason with a 67.8 percent completion rate (61-of-90) for four touchdowns and one interception and 8.1 yards per attempt. He also added 88 rushing yards.
The 6'3", 215-pounder only threw three passes in the regular season while attempting to mop up a 30-14 win over the New York Jets. He completed two of three passes for 14 yards, but the incompletion was an interception returned for a touchdown.
Matt Miller of Bleacher Report called the Texas native, who was 247Sports' No. 2 dual-threat QB in his recruiting class, a future starter in his scouting report last April and compared him to the Oakland Raiders' David Carr.
New England holds the Nos. 23, 87, 98 and 100 overall picks over the first two days of the draft. They also have one fourth-rounder, four sixth-rounders and three seventh-rounders.
Miller currently lists seven quarterbacks with third-round grades or better in his latest big board. Only one other signal-caller (Iowa's Nate Stanley, with a fifth-round grade) ranks higher than the sixth round.