The blueprint for how the Patriots can find their next QB

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With the Patriots watching the playoffs from afar for the first time since 2008, they likely will be doing some self-scouting to see how/what they can do better.

While some of it will be on the field and what ultimately went wrong during the year, personnel moves should also be part of it as well. And when it comes to that, a clear trend among playoff teams in recent years has been established and should be something the Patriots look at this offseason.

Of the 14 starting quarterbacks in the playoffs this season, 11 were first-round selections (12, including Drew Brees, who was No. 32 overall, but that was Round 2 in 2001). And it was virtually the same last year when seven of the 12 playoff quarterbacks were first-round selections, eight including Brees.

Furthermore, of the eight quarterbacks left in the playoffs only Tom Brady was drafted below No. 32 overall.

For the Patriots to get back to the postseason, it’s becoming clear a top-tier QB needs to be part of the moves made this offseason.

Now this isn’t to say the next quarterback needs to be drafted by the team in the first round, as it could come via trade or free agency, but another trend suggests maybe drafting one is the way to go.

In the AFC, Baker Mayfield is the oldest quarterback remaining at 25 years old. There’s clearly a shift towards the younger quarterbacks taking over the conference, which should be something the Patriots at least take into consideration when determining their next quarterback.

Could this deter them from going after players like Matt Ryan or Matthew Stafford? Perhaps.

Ideally, New England would select the next franchise quarterback in the draft, but that may be hard to get given where it is selecting, No. 15 overall.

While it’s early January and so much can, and likely will change, before April’s draft, there appear to be four potential franchise quarterbacks in the draft: Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Zach Wilson and Trey Lance. The jury is still out on potential first-rounders Mac Jones and Kyle Trask.

Sitting at No. 15, the Patriots may not be able to land any of those top four quarterbacks since so many teams ahead of them will likely be in the QB market as well. Jacksonville, New York (Jets), Miami, Atlanta, Detroit, Carolina, Denver, Dallas, San Francisco and Minnesota could all potentially select a quarterback. Obviously, all 10 won’t, but it just illustrates how difficult it would be for one those top-four quarterbacks to be available when the Patriots are on the clock.

With that being said, being so close to the top-10 the potential is there for the team to move up and grab its QB of the future. But, that would come at the cost of losing other selections in the draft and the team certainly needs them to address other areas of need.

Now, there could be free agents available who aren’t younger than 25, but could make sense to hang with the young studs.

Mitchell Trubisky, a No. 2 overall pick, will likely not re-sign in Chicago and be available on the open market. The same goes for Jameis Winston, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, as New Orleans could potentially move on after one season.

It’s obvious these players are not on the same level of other top draft picks, but they clearly have talent based on where they were selected and may be better off with new coaches, teams, etc.

This criteria isn’t the end all be all at the position, but the Patriots would be doing themselves a disservice by not looking at what the current playoff landscape looks like and how the AFC projects over the next few seasons when addressing their quarterback need this offseason.

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