It was well known leading up to the 2018 NFL draft that the Patriots had then rookie quarterback, Lamar Jackson in for a pre-draft visit.
At the time, the team was reportedly impressed with their visit with Jackson and it seemed like a fair assumption that they would have a great opportunity to draft him with picks 23 and 31 in the first round. With Tom Brady getting older and presumably retiring sooner than later, (boy, was that wrong) the Patriots needed a solid candidate to replace him when the time inevitably came.
On draft night, pick 23 came and went with the Patriots selecting offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn. But Jackson was still on the board when their second pick of the first round came up, with many assuming the quarterback was next to go.
But, once again, the Patriots shocked the NFL world when they chose to draft running back Sony Michel with the 31st overall pick. The Ravens would then trade up to get their man and left the first round with their new quarterback.
Given the events that have unfolded since that draft, it appeared like the Patriots made a big mistake in not taking Jackson. Tom Brady would leave the team in 2020 and the Patriots would trade Sony Michel to the Rams the following year. New England would face difficulties in replacing their former quarterback, making the passing on Jackson appear as an even bigger error.
Fast forward to the 2022 season, the Patriots have seemingly found their quarterback of the future in Mac Jones and prepare this week for their first home matchup against the Lamar Jackson-led Baltimore Ravens.
During his media availability on Wednesday, Bill Belichick would be asked about the visit he had with Jackson four years ago and what his impression was of the quarterback at the time.
“It was a great visit,” Belichick said. “Spent a lot of time with him. He’s a really interesting guy.”
The Patriots head coach would then be asked if Jackson’s play through his NFL career has answered any pre-draft questions about his pocket passing.
“Without a doubt. He’s the type of player that’s an MVP type of candidate. I think he’s more than answered it. Wait and see what his contract is. That’ll answer ’em.”
It’s clear Belichick’s feelings on Jackson haven’t changed over the years and it’s interesting to wonder where the Patriots would be had they drafted him four years ago. Fortunately for both teams, they’ve seen success in their own ways since that draft. And their matchup on Sunday will certainly be an entertaining one to watch.