Report: Patriots Held 'Numerous' Video Calls With QB Ben DiNucci of James Madison
The New England Patriots are no doubt doing their homework on quarterback prospects leading up to the NFL Draft that is set to happen later this month.
While many fans like the idea of head coach Bill Belichick selecting a QB in the early rounds of the draft and then throwing that player into the starting QB competition this summer, it would be more Belichickean of the Patriots HC to grab one in the later rounds, develop him, and see what they have in Jarrett Stidham first. That may be why New England has had "numerous" video conferences with one quarterback from James Madison.
"(Ben DiNucci) has had numerous video conferences with the New England Patriots, Carolina Panthers, and Chicago Bears," Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network wrote on Monday.
If you haven't heard of Ben DiNucci, you're not alone. After redshirting his freshman year and eventually losing the starting job while at Pittsburgh during his redshirt sophomore season, DiNucci transferred to James Madison, where he seemingly found a perfect match for his abilities. In 2018, he threw for 2,275 yards, 16 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions while adding another 433 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground. His redshirt senior campaign is when DiNucci had his best season to-date, throwing for 3,441 yards, 29 touchdowns, six interceptions and adding another 569 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground. He also completed 71% of his passes that year.
DiNucci's play style could cause more turnovers and miscues at the next level. Pair that with the fact that he played at James Madison, and there's a chance DiNucci could go un-drafted in this year's draft.
While his dual-threat capabilities don't quite go in line with a Patriots-style quarterback, Bill Belichick made it known during his conference call on Monday that he will "take advantage" of the team's next starting QB's skill set. That means if a player with DiNucci's ability won the starting QB job in New England - which is highly unlikely, especially next season, but not impossible - then offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels would be asked to revamp a Patriots offense that had schematically been the same for quite some time with Tom Brady under center.
Belichick and company were likely just doing their homework by interviewing DiNucci, like they have with many players during the pre-draft process at that position and others. But it shows how open-minded the Patriots head coach is to having a quarterback run his offense that we didn't previously perceive as a New England-style QB.