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Thursday, May 5, 2011
Top teams and plans for QB of future

By Mike Reiss

Vic Carucci of NFL.com writes today on how the Patriots and Colts took a different approach when it comes to drafting quarterbacks in 2011.

"Whether [Ryan Mallett] actually becomes Tom Brady's eventual replacement remains to be seen. There are plenty of skeptics who predict his slow feet and dubious off-field conduct will prevent it from happening, but at least the Patriots took a stab," Carucci writes. "The Colts, meanwhile, chose to sit out the 'Great Quarterback Rush of 2011,' during which seven signal-callers were taken in the first three rounds (including four in the first)."

The question Carucci asks is: Did either club make a mistake with what it did or didn't do?"

The Patriots' pick of Mallett in the third round has been a hot topic of discussion.

Here are three key points from this view:

1. Ensuring a spot on the 53. When Bill Belichick was drafting at No. 74, I believe his preference would have been to trade out. With no takers, the next step was ensuring he'd land a player who would be on the final 53-man roster; you don't want to draft a player in the third round that you might not have a roster spot for. My view is that Mallett was the only player who qualified. The Patriots rated him that highly and had the opening on the depth chart.

2. As much about Hoyer as Brady. While much of the focus has been on Mallett possibly replacing Brady in four years, I view the pick as more insurance for promising backup Brian Hoyer. The Patriots control Hoyer's rights through at least 2012, and if Hoyer has a big preseason, it makes sense to think there would be trade intrest from QB-needy clubs. If that turns out to be the case, the Patriots have another quarterback ready to fill the No. 2 spot. And if Mallett lights it up in the preseason, the situation could work in that way as well, with teams coming after Mallett over the next few years.

3. Another layer of depth at QB. Belichick made the point after the draft that the team has had just two quarterbacks the last two seasons, thus assuming some risk because of the importance of the position. While Belichick would have been comfortable with just two, having the option of an emergency quarterback who doesn't count against the 45-man game-day roster isn't a bad situation to take advantage of.