It’s no secret that the New England Patriots are picking a quarterback at some point in the 2018 NFL Draft. This pick is very important as he could serve as backup to Tom Brady next season or eventually become his replacement when the veteran signal-caller retires. The Patriots have two options, either use one of their two first-round picks – No. 23 and No. 31 -- to sign a signal caller. Or they can move up to the Draft and sign one of the five big quarterback names on the board. These five are Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen, Baker Mayfield, and Lamar Jackson.

Recently, there were reports that the Patriots are eyeing Mayfield as eventual heir-apparent to Brady. However, according to Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report, the Patriots are most interested in Jackson, the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner. While Allen, Rosen, Mayfield, and Darnold could be taken early in the Draft, experts see Jackson as a late first-round pick, giving the Patriots a chance to take him.

Jackson’s stock rising ahead of Draft

Freeman reported that Jackson’s stock heading into the 2018 NFL Draft is rising, with sources telling him that scouts and teams have been impressed with his intelligence and football acumen. If Jackson is selected by the Patriots and emerges as heir apparent to Brady, the former Heisman Trophy winner will introduce a drastic change in head coach Bill Belichick’s offense as a true dual-threat signal caller.

In his three years at Louisville, Jackson threw for 9,043 yards and 69 touchdowns with 27 interceptions and rushed for 4,132 yards and 50 scores. However, Jackson’s downside was his accuracy as he completed just 57 percent of his throws. In 2016, he ranked 10th among NCAA Division I players with 1,571 rushing yards and followed it with a 1,601-yard performance in 2016.

Jackson threw for 3,543 and 3,660 yards in 2016 and 2017, respectively. Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio was present during Jackson’s Pro Day at Louisville to personally scout him.

Patriots work out another QB

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network Insider, Caserio ran a workout for Western Kentucky quarterback Mike White, who is projected to be selected in the middle round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

Unlike Jackson, the 6-foot-4 White is a pocket passer like Brady. After a two-year stint at South Florida, White transferred to Western Kentucky where he excelled as starter. In his two years at Western Kentucky, White completed 66.4 percent of his passes for 8,540 yards and 63 touchdowns with 15 interceptions.