The New England Patriots have long been one of the most innovative franchises in the NFL and Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson is going to require an innovative coaching staff in order to get the most of his enormous abilities.
So it makes sense, in a way, that the two have now been linked, according to a report from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
The Patriots very quietly hosted Jackson for a top-30 pre-draft visit a couple of weeks ago and came away “intrigued and impressed.” New England owns the No. 23 overall pick on Thursday — the one they acquired from the Los Angeles Rams — and their own No. 31 pick near the end of the first round. They’re in need of a successor to Tom Brady after trading away Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers last season.
Brady will turn 41 before the start of the 2018 season and, while he’s publicly stated a desire to play until he is 45, there were reports last year of some friction between he and Bill Belichick. Adding a quarterback in the first round would give the Patriots a player to groom — though that’s not a priority for Brady — and would give them a fifth-year option.
Jackson won a Heisman Trophy at Louisville in 2016 and was a finalist a year ago. With a strong arm and great legs, he is one of the most dynamic quarterback prospects in history. However, because he’s still developing as a passer, nobody seems to know how the NFL might value him.
Jackson threw for more than 9,000 yards in his two-plus seasons as a starter at Louisville, and rushed for another 4,132 yards. He accounted for 119 touchdowns from 2015 through 2017.
Landing with New England and having time to slowly acclimate is an interesting option, though whenever his time as the starter might come it would require the entire offense to be reworked around him.