We are less than one month away from the 2021 NFL draft. After a massive Patriots spending spree, filled with significant receiving and pass-rush upgrades, key re-signings, and versatile depth pieces to fill the roster. With 10 picks in this years draft, all eyes will be locked on Bill Belichick up until April 29th.
Of course, the biggest attraction lies within the team’s decision in the first round of the draft. The team currently holds the highest pick since 2008 when the Patriots drafted Linebacker Jerod Mayo at #10 overall. With the San Francisco 49ers trading up to #3 in the draft, perhaps Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has now become available. Despite the very real injury concerns and contract price with Garoppolo, the Patriots should still be interested in a Foxboro reunion.
It’s hard not to like the idea of upgrading the Quarterback position without giving up the 15th overall pick. Assuming the first three picks in this years draft will feature a Quarterback, it is hard to imagine Bill Belichick trading up into the upper echelon of picks. An unprecedented risk for the likely fourth ranked Quarterback prospect may not be the most serviceable solution. Here are possible targets for three possible scenarios the New England Patriots may find themselves when on the clock.
This option can only be for a Quarterback. The price that the 49ers had to pay to get to #3 is what it will take to get Atlanta or Cincinnati to trade back. It’s hard to predict where the Niners will go at 3. Assuming Lawrence and Wilson will be off the board, you could make an argument for any of the Fields/Lance/Jones crew fitting in San Fran.
The Mac Jones fit is obvious. He’s accurate, makes the right reads, moves well in the pocket, and his pro day numbers put to rest a lot of athleticism concerns. While there are concerns regarding the team built around Jones, Tua Tagovailoa played with Henry Ruggs, Jerry Jeudy, Devonta Smith, and Jaylen Waddle as the 5th overall pick. Jones however, only played with Smith as Waddle missed the majority of the 2021 season with an ankle injury.
Justin Fields remains to be an overthought prospect. He displayed excellent toughness against Clemson, continuing to play through a rib injury. There are concerns regarding his ability to go through progressions. That being said, Fields continues to take care of the football (9 career INT) while maintaining a high completion percentage (68.4%).
Fields appears to be the most NFL ready starter out of the three options. He also doesn’t rely on his athleticism, having a beautiful deep ball while excelling inside completions inside 20 yards. It also important to note that he would be a perfect fit under Cam Newton.
Now onto Trey Lance. He’s got a tremendous arm and good size for his athleticism. He’s 20 years old; it’s going to take at least a year to adjust to the NFL. Not only has Lance started in 17 college games, he only had two games with more than 25 passing attempts. That’s a big risk for a guy who missed a year in college football versus a much weaker set of competition than the NFL.
Stay At 15
If the Patriots decide they would rather trade for a current NFL Quarterback or pick one later in the draft, they may have great value lying at number 15.
LB Micah Parsons: Could be be the “DK Metcalf” of Linebackers. His pro day numbers back it up too: 4.39-second 40, 34-inch vertical jump, 134″ broad jump, scary numbers for a guy at 245 pounds. Bill could do wonders with this kid without needing to start Week 1. Parsons would most likely play outside linebacker due to his speed and pass rushing ability. Adding Parsons to an already upgraded Linebacker core could bring the “boogeymen” to terrifying new heights.
DE Kwity Paye: Fans may be tired of Bill Belichick and Michigan pass rushers, but Kwity Paye is not Chase Winovich or Josh Uche. New England needs a size and speed on the edge. Paye had the highest pass rush win% in the Big Ten. Paye also recorded a 4.54 40 time and an elite three cone time of 6.37 seconds. Pro day numbers are different than combine numbers, but he at least is in the 6.6 cone range, which for reference, would be quicker than Julian Edelman.
S Trevon Moehrig: people may groan at another safety, but Moehrig may be the right fit for a future need. Projecting as a Free-Safety at the NFL level, Moehrig is the best safety in this class with great range, ball skills, and has quick, strong instincts. He led all safeties in PFF coverage with the highest forced incompletion%. Devin McCourty does not have many years left and the Free Safety position will be a need in the near future.
T Rashawn Slater: While New England’s offensive line remains one of their stronger units, tackle is a potential long term need. Isiah Wynn faces a lengthy injury history with a 5th year option coming up; Trent Brown is only on a one year deal. Slater only allowed 5 sacks in his career at Northwestern. He also held one of the lowest pressures allowed% in college football.
This could be a very likely option if New England ends up with Jimmy Garoppolo. It could also happen if all the QBs, WRs, and defensive freaks are gone. If that is the case, there will be a lot of strong talent on the defense side in particular. Linebacker’s such as Zaven Collins and Nick Bolton are two guys who could potentially fit as future MIKE Linebacker’s leading the Patriots defense for years to come. Collins has more of the athletic freak profile for his size, while Nick Bolton plays with a hard-hitting, run stuffing power similar to Dont’a “Boomtower”.