ORLANDO, Fla. -- When rating the possibility of the New England Patriots selecting a quarterback within the first three rounds of the NFL draft, I went all-in as part of the 32-team NFL Nation piece on the topic. The Patriots have traditionally had a developmental prospect on their roster and this looks like a good year for them to add another to the pipeline.
The topic also came up over the last two days at the NFL's annual meetings.
"I'm going to put my fan hat on, and obviously at some point we have to," owner Robert Kraft said, when asked if finding a quarterback in the draft is a high priority for the team. "Not just that, but think what happened in the '08 season when in the first quarter against Kansas City, Tom [Brady] goes out. How many people would have said that Matt Cassel would have led us to an 11-5 season? I put my faith and confidence in Bill [Belichick]. He knows his responsibilities. Anything can happen, even if Tom comes in [and is in] tip-top shape.
"Part of why the networks pay us the funding they do, and the reason this is the best entertainment product in America, is you don't know -- one play can change a whole season. One play with one person. To do a good job managing an NFL franchise, we've always said understanding quality depth management, that's our business."
The Patriots' history of drafting quarterbacks in Belichick's tenure, especially recently, ties into this.
2016: Jacoby Brissett (third round)
2014: Jimmy Garoppolo (second round)
2011: Ryan Mallett (third round)
2010: Zac Robinson (seventh round)
2008: Kevin O'Connell (third round)
2005: Matt Cassel (seventh round)
2003: Kliff Kingsbury (sixth round)
2002: Rohan Davey (fourth round)
2000: Tom Brady (sixth round)
While the Patriots won't necessarily force the pick of a quarterback if the right choice isn't there, the goal is always the same.
"We'll do what's in the best interest of the team," Belichick said.