The NFL Draft is set to go forward in the digital world later this week, which means you can't spend more than five minutes on the internet without stumbling over a mock draft of some form. Peter King released his own mock on Monday morning, and it contained perhaps the only realistic scenario yet put forth to result in Tua Tagovailoa as a New England Patriot.
In King's draft, the Dolphins play it safe by taking Justin Herbert, and the Chargers shock everyone by taking Andrew Thomas at left tackle instead of a quarterback of the future. This results in a big slide for Tagovailoa; the combination of his injury questions and the acceptable (at least) quarterback situations of the rest of teams in the top 10 means that if Tagovailoa falls past Los Angeles, there isn't an obvious spot for him in the next five or so picks.
Thus, he tumbles all the way to the No. 13 spot, which currently belongs to the San Francisco 49ers. The Niners have two first-round picks but no second-or-third-rounders and will likely move down at some point on Thursday no matter what. King suggests the Patriots would send a 2021 first-round pick to move up 10 spots and select Tagovailoa.
Ian Rapoport suggested last week that the Patriots would be using a "premium" pick on a quarterback. The discourse suggests it wouldn't be surprising to see the Patriots make a move for a quarterback if one falls like Tagovailoa does in King's draft. It would, however, be very surprising to see Bill Belichick give up a future first-rounder to take anyone, much less a prospect with the red flags of Tagovailoa (even if the upside is apparent).
King's scenario does seem to make the most sense. The Patriots don't have the draft capital to move more than 10 spots up even if they wanted to. If Tagovailoa is still there past 13, there will be some team willing to give up substantial assets to get him and New England would lose most bidding wars, so they wouldn't be able to wait much longer. If the Patriots love Tagovailoa, even Belichick would give up what he needs to in order to get his man.
But as I discussed with ESPN's Mike Reiss last week, it's impossible to predict what the Patriots will do because we've never seen what it's like when they fall in love with a quarterback. They've never had to convince themselves they found their next starter because Tom Brady was always there. No one knows how they'll react if they fall in love with a prospect who tumbles out of the top 10. What lengths will Belichick go to to get his guy? We have no idea because we've never really seen that before with a position as important as quarterback.
Thursday night will change the futures of over two dozen young men and franchises. Predicting how it will unfold is a crapshoot, but so is the draft itself-- and that's what makes this all so fun. The Patriots going from Brady to Tagovailoa would be a transition for the ages, and King thinks it could be reality.