By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — With each passing day, there’s more and more smoke surrounding the Patriots’ interest in quarterback Lamar Jackson in this month’s NFL draft. Now generally, when the world starts to believe Bill Belichick will do something, that means he will do the complete opposite. Nevertheless, at this point in time, it appears as though the Patriots have serious interest in the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner and 2017 Heisman finalist.

That contingent of Patriots supporters apparently includes the current quarterback too. When the NFL Network posted a photo to Instagram sharing news of the Patriots’ interest in Jackson, none other than Tom Brady hopped into the comments section to share his thoughts on Jackson.

“He’s a beast!!!!” Brady wrote, with all four exclamation points. Brady added a thumbs-up emoji for good measure.

insta e1523541197234 Tom Brady Throws Support Behind Lamar Jackson: Hes A Beast!

Tom Brady comments on Instagram (Instagram/NFLNetwork)

Brady’s comment came in response to Hall of Famer and NFL Network analyst Deion Sanders saying, “About time they get the revelation.” (Fortunately for Sanders, he has not responded to Brady by saying “You continue to be a fan and I will continue to be the man,” which shows that Sanders might know that Brady actually plays professional football at a high level. That’s progress!)

Jackson took note:

The Instagram comment is just that — an Instagram comment. But it’s noteworthy because as Brady enters his age 41 season, it’s a stark reality that the next quarterback drafted in an early round by the Patriots will be expected to wear the burden of being the successor to the greatest quarterback in NFL history. That’s a tall task for any quarterback, and whether it’s Jackson or anybody else, it will be a weighty responsible to take on in addition to the normal challenges that the NFL presents for young quarterbacks.

But perhaps with that type of enthusiasm, Jackson would have the benefit of getting more help from Brady in the process than anyone else ever has. Throughout Brady’s career, Brady’s been plenty friendly with his backups but has always maintained the attitude that each backup was a threat to his job. Brady’s known for not letting backups even get practice reps — let alone live game action — in order to maintain a firm hold on his job. As crazy as it may seem for a quarterback of Brady’s caliber to be cautious about losing his job, the attitude has been a large part of what makes Brady Brady.

But with the end of his career closer than it ever has been before, it’ll be interesting to see if he takes on a larger role of mentor and coach to whichever young quarterback joins the Patriots roster, either for the 2018 season or the 2019 season. Brady’s already delivered more championships and success to the franchise than even the most optimistic supporter could have hoped for, but by putting a young quarterback through the rigors of Brady University, he may be able to help set them up for continued success even after he retires.

You can email Michael Hurley or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

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