USA Today Sports

Could Baker Mayfield land with Patriots?

Rob Bradford
January 02, 2018 - 8:21 am

Baker Mayfield a Patriot? Admit it, you want it to happen.

Watching the Oklahoma quarterback, and Heisman Trophy winner, knife through the Georgia defense in the first half of Monday's Rose Bowl surely allowed some New England football fans to dream. The smile of Jimmy Garoppolo might be gone, but perhaps it could be replaced by the bravado of Mayfield.

The Patriots need the next heir apparent to Tom Brady, and this is a guy who might be the right man at the right time. He wins. He has the arm. He has the mentality. He has the release. He has the athleticism. And, assuming Brady doesn't find that cliff some think is looming, he would be afforded the Garoppolo path when it comes to integration into the NFL.

Dare to dream.

If the Patriots actually do like Mayfield as much as those watching Monday night, their best hope may be something as simple as the quarterback being identified as 5-foot-11 at the NFL combine. They need teams to be scared away from the QB, and his height might be the best way to do that. In this day and age of the NFL, the likes of sub-6-foot quarterbacks such as Russell Wilson and Drew Brees -- even with all their successes -- are considered outliers.

Yet, even if Mayfield is considered to be vertically challenged, it's going to be tough for Bill Belichick and Co. to get a shot at this guy.

Most mock drafts have him getting plucked in the Top 10, although there are a few who suggest he might slide. "Land of 10" has him going at No. 27, while ESPN's Todd McShay lists Mayfield as his No. 27 overall draft prospect. (Mel Kiper of ESPN has him as his No. 13 overall prospect.)

And there is the fact that Mayfield is almost unanimously considered the fourth-best quarterback in the draft, sitting behind USC's Sam Darnold, UCLA's Josh Rosen and Wyoming's Josh Allen.

The problem is that way too many teams are going to be hunting quarterbacks in April.

Let's start with the Browns (picks 1 and 4), Giants (2), Broncos (5) and Jets (6) and sure-fire bets to prioritizing the position. Other teams that may be in the market for the position are the Bengals (12), Redskins (13) and Cardinals (15). And all of them will be far more desperate for immediate help from a new signal-caller than Tom Brady's current team.

Could the Patriots move up, particularly if Mayfield starts to slide? Sure. But it's hard to envision Belichick using that much draft capital to get a backup quarterback when so many other needs are residing on this roster. For a more realistic -- albeit far less sexy -- scenario, start familiarizing yourselves with Oklahoma State's Mason Rudolph, Washington State's Luke Falk, Louisville's Lamar Jackson and Riley Ferguson of Memphis.

If nothing else, it gives us a reason to pay attention to the Senior Bowl and the NFL combine. (Remember, those were the places Jimmy Garoppolo ultimately sold himself.) Thanks for that Baker Mayfield.

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