While the manner in which the top five quarterbacks will exit the board isn’t known, two things have become accepted in recent weeks. One, Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson may be the last of the five taken. Two, he nevertheless will be taken in round one.
So who will take Jackson? The Cardinals at No. 15? The Ravens at No. 16? The Chargers at No. 17? The Saints at No. 27?
A sense has been emerging that the Patriots could be the team to land Jackson. Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report recently wrote that the Patriots have the most interest in Jackson.
Then there’s this: NFL Network posted a graphic on social medial of Jackson and Patriots coach Bill Belichick, with this quote from NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks: “I believe after watching Deshaun Watson tear up his defense, he said, ‘I want a player like Lamar Jackson.'” NFL Network’s Deion Sanders (who apparently realizes that Lamar Jackson is a player and not merely a fan) responded by saying, “About time they got the revelation.” Below that, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady chimed in with this response to Sanders: “He’s a beast!!!!”
While it may be a stretch at this point to believe that Brady and Belichick are totally in cahoots when it comes to manipulating the draft board, Belichick typically doesn’t tip his hand about his draft plans. And by “typically doesn’t,” I mean he never, ever, ever does.
Belichick, who learned football strategy at the knee of his father, a long-time member of the Naval Academy football program, realizes the tactical value of information and the lack thereof. Everything he says and does has a reason. And if he secretly covets Lamar Jackson, Belichick will be doing everything he can to keep that a secret.
So if it’s getting out that Belichick wants Jackson, it’s getting out because Belichick wants it to get out. And with each of his three chief competitors in the AFC East in position to take a top quarterback, it could be that Belichick is trying to unleash a Jedi mind trick on the Jets, Dolphins, or Bills, baiting them into taking Jackson — if Belichick has decided that Jackson ultimately won’t be nearly as good as Deshaun Watson.
Again, given some of the reported tension between Belichick and Brady, it’s hard to imagine that Brady is pumping up Jackson at the behest of Belichick. But the notion that Belichick likes Jackson most likely wouldn’t be trickling out of Foxborough unless Belichick wanted it to. Which invites speculation that he’s hoping that the Jets, Dolphins, and/or Bills take Jackson instead of someone like Baker Mayfield, Josh Rosen, or Josh Allen.
Maybe I’m wrong. (It wouldn’t be this first time
this week today.) Maybe Belichick is losing his cloak-and-dagger fastball. Regardless, when it comes to the Patriots’ plans for restocking the most important position in football via the draft — a matter of critical importance with the Brady Train pulling into the station — it’s hard to imagine Belichick allowing anyone to know what he truly thinks, and it’s easy to think that any reports or rumors as to what he thinks have made their way into the public eye for a reason.