The New England Patriots will enter the buildup to the 2020 NFL season in an unfamiliar situation.
The Patriots currently have veterans Brian Hoyer and Cody Kessler, as well as 2019 fourth-round draft pick Jarrett Stidham on their quarterback depth chart. Stidham is the favorite to win the job and showed a lot of potential during last year's training camp and preseason.
Despite Stidham's talent, many mock drafts still have the Patriots targeting a QB with the 23rd overall pick in the first round, and ESPN expert Mel Kiper Jr. is no exception. He released his 2020 NFL Mock Draft 3.0 on Tuesday, and he has the Patriots taking Utah State quarterback Jordan Love in Round 1.
Here's his rationale for the Love selection:
Are the Patriots really going to roll with Jarrett Stidham, Brian Hoyer and Cody Kessler as their 2020 quarterbacks? I'm not buying it. I'll stick with a QB here, although I'm moving Love back into the fourth spot in my QB rankings, ahead of Jacob Eason. At 6-foot-4, Love has all the traits that teams look for in a starter, but his 2019 stats -- 20 TD passes, 17 INTs -- will scare off some. I don't put much stock into it because of all of the talent (and an entire coaching staff) that he lost from the 2018 season, when he had 32 TD passes and six INTs. It's tough to know whether Bill Belichick is going to treat the season as a rebuild, but taking Love makes sense either way.
Love, as Kiper alludes to, displays the physical tools teams wants in a quarterback. He has the size, strength and arm power to make a lot of quality throws. Love completed 61.1 percent of his passes for 3,402 yards, 20 touchdowns and 17 interceptions for Utah State last season.
It's possible Love might not even be available to the Patriots by the time they're on the clock. Love's momentum has been building of late, and ESPN's Dan Orlovsky even argued why teams should draft the Utah State star over Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert, who's projected to be a top 10 pick.
Quarterback isn't the only need for New England entering April's draft. Wide receiver, linebacker, safety and offensive line are other areas of weakness. Fortunately for the Patriots, they have 12 picks in the 2020 draft -- only the Miami Dolphins (14) have more -- so Bill Belichick has plenty of chances to plug some of the holes on his roster before next season.
Mel Kiper Jr's new 2020 NFL Mock Draft has Patriots taking QB of the future originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston