James Walker, who covers the AFC North for ESPN.com, reports today that the Patriots are hosting Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett on a pre-draft visit. This comes after the Patriots also hosted Washington quarterback Jake Locker last week.
Similar to the visit with Locker, and last year's very public visit with Tim Tebow, this looks like good business on the Patriots' part. It is smart for them to create the impression that they might select a quarterback, as that is one position that needy teams might be willing to deal significant assets to draft. It is also smart for them to gather information from those quarterbacks on which teams have shown the most interest.
Bill Belichick referenced the position on Sirius Radio on Monday.
"It will be interesting to see how the whole quarterback thing plays out and how quickly those quarterbacks come off the board," he said on the "Movin' The Chains" program. "It seems like there are a number of teams interested in them. That may or may not have an effect on the [trade] movement in the first round, relative to that position.”
The Patriots own the 17th, 28th and 33rd spots in the draft, so depending on how the quarterbacks come off the board, they could be fielding calls from interested teams. One other factor to consider is that with the Dolphins and Bills potentially seeking quarterbacks in the draft, it is a chance to gather intel on a possible opponent they will face twice a year.
The feeling here is that it would surprising if the Patriots devote a high draft pick on a quarterback, as they are in good position with Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer and 2010 fifth-round pick Jonathan Crompton on the roster.
If they do select a quarterback, it figures to be a bit later in the draft.