Leftover thought: All about the QB

NEW ORLEANS TO BOSTON -- From a football Xs and Os perspective, the big topic of discussion at the NFL's annual meeting was the rule change on kickoffs. But after cleaning out the notebook this morning, one other theme kept coming up.

It's all about the quarterback.

One head coach discussed how his team, selecting in the bottom half of the first round but not in the quarterback market, was hoping there would be an early run at the position so quality players at other positions would slide to his team. The Patriots also fall into this category.

Meanwhile, the availability of Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb in a trade was one of the hot topics of discussion. That led to a conversation with a personnel executive about the value of drafting and developing quarterbacks and how former Packers general manager Ron Wolf set the standard in that area in the 1990s.

Patriots fans saw it first-hand with Matt Cassel in 2009. Drafted as a seventh-round pick in 2005, he was with the team for four seasons, and yielded a 2009 second-round pick in a trade.

But drafting and developing quarterbacks is anything but a sure thing, as evidenced by the Patriots' selection of Kevin O'Connell in the 2008 third round. He was released the following season, the team deciding rather quickly it wasn't the right fit.

Looking at where the Patriots stand now, most would say it's a good spot with Tom Brady and Brian Hoyer.

Mike Lombardi of NFL Network, for one, believes Hoyer should be generating more chatter than Kolb based on the way he played in the season finale. Hoyer enters his third season, and depending on the rules of a new collective bargaining agreement, could become an unrestricted free agent after the 2012 season. If he shows well in the 2011 preseason, it would only increase his value.

With this in mind, it wouldn't be a surprise if the Patriots use one of their nine 2011 picks on a quarterback, thinking long-term for Hoyer's replacement should a trade opportunity arise.