The New England Patriots dedicated free agency to building a roster that could support its quarterback far better than we’ve seen from this team in recent years. Now that the 2021 NFL Draft has arrived, Bill Belichick could make the big move to find his next franchise quarterback.
Holding the No. 15 pick, there is little to no chance one of the top quarterback prospects falls to New England. If the franchise wants to draft its next future star, finally replacing Tom Brady with a player that fans can get excited about, it will take a blockbuster draft-day trade.
There have already been trade discussions. The Patriots reportedly discussed a framework of a deal with the Carolina Panthers, in an effort to determine the cost and to have a potential plan if Justin Fields experiences a draft-day slide. Likewise, the Detroit Lions have spoken to multiple teams about trading down from the No. 7 pick.
But that might not be high enough to land Fields. With the Atlanta Falcons considering taking a quarterback,they may consider. Meanwhile, the Miami Dolphins are willing to slide down from the No. 6 pick if a quarterback-needy team overpays. As a result, Belichick is considering being even more aggressive.
Who will the Patriots draft in 2021?
According to The Athletic’s Jeff Howe, the Patriots have spoken with the Falcons about a draft-day trade for the No. 4 overall pick if Fields is available.
The NFL Draft rumors out of New England have heated up in recent days. Originally, it was believed that Mac Jones was the Patriots’ preferred target. But there’s a league-wide expectation that he is drafted at No. 3 by the San Francisco 49ers. Even if he fell, though, he might not be the one who is capturing Belichick’s attention.
New England is reportedly very high on the 6-foot-3 quarterback and for good reason. He showed off his tremendous athleticism at Ohio State’s Pro Day, posting a 4.43 40-yard dash time. He would instantly become one of the fastest quarterbacks in the NFL and brings outstanding size (227 lbs.) and physicality.
Most importantly, he is the most accurate passer in the 2021 NFL Draft class, is clean mechanically, boasts an outstanding arm and shows good ball placement on deep throws. He has drawn comparisons to a more athletic Dak Prescott, the kind of quarterback who could help Josh McDaniels’ scheme take a huge step forward.
Fields finished the 2020 season viewed as the second-best player in the draft. However, he started sliding down the boards with the microscope squarely on him as little weaknesses in his game were inflated. The same thing happened last year to Justin Herbert, who set the NFL rookie record for passing touchdowns (31) and completions (396).
Belichick likely wouldn’t feel comfortable about trading the team’s future first-round pick, along with multiple Day 2 selections, to jump up. But the Patriots desperately need a long-term answer at quarterback and Fields has the talent to become an elite player.