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Draft an Heir for Brady? Looks Like Patriots Will Wait Till Next Year

Friday night told you all you have to know about how Bill Belichick and the Patriots viewed this year’s class of QBs. Plus the smoke surrounding Guice, Maurice Hurst’s fall and more

We found out on Thursday and Friday night just what the Patriots really thought of the second tier of the 2018 quarterback class: Not much.

New England would have had to move heaven and earth to get in position to draft Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, USC’s Sam Darnold, Wyoming’s Josh Allen or UCLA’s Josh Rosen. Take them out of the equation, and the Patriots still had two shots at Louisville’s Lamar Jackson. And had they stayed put with their picks, they’d have had four shots at Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph.

So the Patriots let the top six quarterbacks come off the board without incident, and presumably will go into the 2018 season the same way they came out of 2017—without a successor for Tom Brady. Maybe they draft one Saturday. Maybe they yank ex-Heisman winner Johnny Manziel off the scrapheap in May. But they won’t have taken the big swing many expected they would, meaning there’s a significant chance we’ll be right back here in 2019, with the team still looking for an heir apparent to a player who, at that point, will be on the doorstep of 42.

One reason that Patriots owner Robert Kraft pushed to keep offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels in February was to try and create stability further out for a franchise centered on an aging head coach and quarterback, which necessarily has made it a year-to-year operation. Take either Brady or Belichick out of the equation, and it’s anyone’s guess where everything they’ve built here goes from there. At least for the latter, there are a couple cornerstones (McDaniels and personnel chief Nick Caserio) in place that would be pretty reasonable options to take baton. But there’s no one to follow Brady, and it looks like the Patriots will have to wait another year before getting another crack at amending that.

• PODCAST DRAFT RECAP: Andy Benoit and Gary Gramling deep dive the drafts of all 32 teams on the 10 Things podcast. Subscribe now and have the episode in your feed Monday morning.

The strange case of Derrius Guice. A week ago, there was a pretty strong feeling that LSU’s Guice was the second-best back in the year’s class, if a distant second behind Saquon Barkley. So how does he slip 27 picks deep into the second round, and have to watch five other players at his position have their names called before his?

There have been rumblings, certainly, over the last day about an incident (referenced by Mike Mayock during Friday night’s telecast), enough to make at least one team to pull him out of consideration. And it would be one thing if it were that alone. Guice also admitted to some teams recently that he wasn’t being truthful when he claimed on Sirius radio that teams asked him if he was gay, and if his mom was a prostitute.

There were also maturity issues, and he switched agents late in the process, and this accumulation of smoke was enough to scare teams off at a position where plenty of good players were available. Washington wound up taking him at 59. So, assuming whatever might or might not have happened doesn’t add another layer, he’ll have his shot to make up for all this. But he’s already paid a heavy price.

Maurice Hurst tumbles over heart concerns. The Michigan product was one of the most disruptive and productive defenders in the Big Ten last year. And even if he’s a little short for a defensive tackle prospect, interior pass-rushers of Hurst’s quality absolutely have a place in the NFL.

But there’s concern over a heart condition that led the NFL to prevent him from participating at the scouting combine. And while some downplayed it in the aftermath, it was enough of a problem for some teams to take him off the board completely. As I put together a second-round mock after Thursday’s first round, I had a couple teams implore me to take Hurst’s name off the list. So I figured he might go in the third round. He didn’t, and now I wonder how far he’ll fall.

Quarterbacks overvalued … again. Every year, there’s a big-name college quarterback or two that gets overrated in public circles, and Mason Rudolph was that guy this year. There was a lot more skepticism over his game—his heavy-footedness, how he dealt with adversity in-game, and the offense he comes from—in scouting circles than you might think.

Bottom line is, he has a ways to go. And so going 76th overall and getting to sit behind Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh for a while probably isn’t the worst outcome for him.

• BEST AVAILABLE PLAYERS: Follow along all Saturday on our draft tracker.

Quick hits: Love the Titans acting aggressively and moving up to get the pass-rusher they needed in Harold Landry, at 41. If he can return to the form he flashed his junior year at BC, Tennessee has a shot to have a heck of a haul in combining him with Rashaan Evans. … New Packers DC Mike Pettine loves corners, and Green Bay telegraphed its intentions to get him some with the Kyle Fuller offer sheet in March. A month later, new GM Brian Gutekunst showed he’s not messing around, tabbing Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson will his first two picks. … The Browns believe Austin Corbett can play left tackle in the NFL. Whether or not that’s the best spot for him will be figured out in the coming weeks and months. … After signing Nate Solder, and drafting Saquon Barkley and Will Hernandez, there should be a simple way for Giants GM Dave Gettleman to see if his offseason has been a success in the fall, and that’s by answering this question: Can we win a game when Eli Manning throws for 150 or 200 yards? … One day left. See you guys on Saturday.

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