In one of the more intriguing moves of the offseason, the New England Patriots drew attention to themselves because of a couple of players they will host in pre-draft visits today at Gillette Stadium.
They’ll take a look at Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater with two of their 30 allotted visits with prospects from out of town. Yes, they have a rather established quarterback in Tom Brady and he’s under contract through 2017. And backup Ryan Mallett is under contract through the 2014 season. So just what is Bill Belichick, the NFL’s Dos Equis man, up to?
The answer may be as simple as the team is looking for a young QB to groom as a backup for 2015 and would consider making a move to take Manziel or Bridgewater early. Or perhaps they’re taking a look in case either plummets like Brady Quinn or Aaron Rodgers on draft day. Maybe Belichick is just be helping out his former offensive coordinator, Bill O’Brien, whose Houston Texans have the top pick.
ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss writes that “it’s part of the draft process, but still a little unusual.” It could be as simple as the Patriots taking a look at quarterbacks they may face in the future or a matter of evaluating the top three likely QBs in order to assess others who might be available when they pick. Reiss concludes:
“[W]e’d put our chips closest to the idea that the Patriots would like to come away with a developmental quarterback in the draft to account for the likely departure of Mallett after the 2014 season. It almost certainly won’t be Manziel, [Blake] Bortles [whom the team reportedly visited last week in Central Florida] or Bridgewater, but when stacking the draft board and quarterback position specifically, having the best feel for it from top to bottom perhaps takes on added importance given the hope to address the position at some point in the draft.”
The Patriots are many things, but boring certainly isn’t one of them.