Patriots, top QB prospects & visits

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Patriots have hosted quarterbacks Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater and Jimmy Garoppolo on pre-draft visits at Gillette Stadium, and worked out several others, which reflects the significant time and resources they have devoted to scouting the position in 2014.

Theories have been shared by many as to the team’s intentions.

Some talked about the search for Tom Brady’s successor being underway, others focused on backup Ryan Mallett and his contract expiring after the 2014 season as the reason, while some viewed it as a chance to do advance scouting in the event of facing those quarterbacks in the future.

With Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio holding a pre-draft news conference on Tuesday, it was a chance to ask him about the team’s interest in quarterbacks. Specifically, Caserio was asked if the team has had more interaction with quarterbacks this year than in the past.

“This year is really no different. I think what we try to do is take each position and really try to know top to bottom, as thoroughly as we can, as many players at that position,” he said. “It’s all with the idea of trying to gain as much information about that position group, top to bottom, so when you’re sitting up there looking at ‘X’ amount of players, you have a good baseline of information.”

Caserio’s remarks align with previous thoughts in this space.

Still, one difference in the Patriots’ approach with top quarterbacks this year has been bringing them to their facility for in-house visits. That runs in contrast to 2012, for example, when Bill Belichick previously said that he didn’t spend an abundance of time scouting top prospects like Andrew Luck. ("We weren't going to draft a quarterback in the first round and there was no chance he was going to be anywhere close to where our draft position was going to be.")

As for this year’s visits, Caserio downplayed the idea that the Patriots could possibly gain valuable information to help with game-planning in the future because the prospects will be in different systems in the NFL.

The last time the Patriots drafted a quarterback was 2011 when they selected Mallett in the third round. They are due to dip back into the pool this year with Mallett’s deal expiring after the season and some media analysts have called it a deep class with as many as 15-20 draftable prospects. Last year, 11 quarterbacks were drafted.