Over the course of Thursday night, I figured out how the Patriots felt about their quarterback options in the 2020 NFL Draft.
I could tell around pick No. 17 that they weren't crazy about Jordan Love, because they hadn't traded up to leapfrog teams like Tampa, Oakland and Jacksonville, who could have theoretically gone quarterback. When they traded down from No. 23 with Love on the board, it was confirmed.
Furthermore, I'm willing to bet that when the Patriots pick in the second round, it's not going to be a quarterback like Jake Fromm. Know how I know? Because if the Patriots deemed a quarterback worthy of being taken at No. 37, they would have found a way to draft him at the end of the first round so they could have the player for five years.
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And I'm cool with that. I didn't want the Patriots taking a quarterback high in the draft unless they were absolutely head over heels. They've already got a quarterback we think they like in Jarrett Stidham, and they'd have to like a quarterback a lot more than they like Stidham to forgo addressing their many other needs.
So when the Pats hadn't traded up by the late teens, we had our answer. You want to spend one of your late thirds on Jalen Hurts if he's there? Sure, go nuts, but no quarterback in the second round. Just because you picked up one extra pick by moving down, you're not suddenly in a position to make luxury picks.
When the Patriots traded out of No. 23, there were very good options available in the front seven and in the secondary. A highly rated receiver prospect was there. The top tight end in the draft was available.
Those are spots that should still be addressed. The aforementioned tight end, Notre Dame's Cole Kmet, is still on the board with only four picks ahead of the Patriots Friday night. Safety Xavier McKinney is considered by many to be the best player available. Defensive ends Yetur Gross-Matos and A.J. Epenesa, the latter of whom was the set-it-and-forget pick for the Patriots at No. 23 in many a mock draft, are still around. Receivers Denzel Mims, Tee Higgins and Michael Pittman Jr. are on the board.
There's a list of seven guys, meaning plenty will be available when the Patriots are on the clock. It validates the Patriots' decision to move down from No. 23, but trading down was the easy part. Now comes the hard part, which is picking the right players.
Personally, I'd like a tight end, but they've scouted these guys more than any of us have. I'll foolishly trust them to make the second-round pick.
Some other thoughts from the first round:
- Color me NAHHHT a fan of what the Dolphins did. With three first-round picks, they just had to be a little more patient. I'd have punted on the quarterback position and traded into the first round of next year's draft with one of their three first-rounders. I'd have gone offensive line in the top five (perhaps by moving up one pick for Andrew Thomas) and grabbed a receiver later in the first round. With that strategy, the Dolphins would have some nice pieces on offense and still be a quarterback away with three first-round picks next year, when Trevor Lawrence will be the prize of the draft. I applaud the chutzpah to bank on Tua Tagovailoa being healthy, but it's not what I would have done. I'd have waited a year.
- I wonder how Sam Darnold feels about the Jets' pick of Mekhi Becton at No. 11. A quarterback will always take help on the offensive line, but the Jets had every receiver in a loaded receiver draft available to them and passed.
- Are the Cardinals going to be good? After getting DeAndre Hopkins for Kyler Murray, versatile defender Isaiah Simmons (whom some considered one of the three best players in this draft), fell to them at No. 8. I kind of think they're going to be good.
- Aside from the bizarre Harry Connick Jr. national anthem thing and the drawn-out (albeit well-intentioned) intro, the virtual draft was a solid watch. Was Roger Goodell awkward as hell barking at a dressed-up Zoom of fans before each pick? Sure. Was Goodell's reading from his card a suggestion that he was ... receiving the pick electronically, then writing it on his card and reading it from the card he himself wrote just so he could be holding a card because it's the draft? Sure, but those are Goodell things. He's never been Johnny Carson up there. I thought that ESPN handled the coverage well.
Why the Patriots aren't drafting a QB early, and other 2020 NFL Draft thoughts originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston