Heads up, New England Patriots fans should buckle up and prepare for what could be an eventful Day 1 of the 2021 NFL Draft.
All offseason, the talk surrounding the team has been related to their potential pursuit of a quarterback, either through free agency, trade, or the NFL Draft. The team re-signed Cam Newton, but many can’t fathom Bill Belichick and co. would be satisfied with him as their starter.
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That’s likely an irrational position to take, but the talk hasn’t stopped. If you look at multiple news outlets and scan the opinions of most draft experts, almost all of them seem to believe the Patriots will trade up to grab one of the top quarterbacks in the draft.
Many of them believe the rookie will provide the training camp competition for Newton. Here are a few examples of what people say about the Patriots and trading up for a quarterback.
Experts Say the Patriots Have to Trade Up to Get a QB
Former NFL quarterback and current ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky says he doesn’t believe the Patriots can afford not to trade up for a new signal-caller. Orlovsky has been pretty down on Newton for close to a year, and he cites the other quarterbacks in the AFC East as the reason the Patriots must aggressively pursue someone to compete with Josh Allen and Co.
Here’s Orlovsky’s recent take on ESPN’s Get Up:
Long-time NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. also appeared on ESPN’s Get Up, and he somewhat echoed Orlovsky’s sentiments. However, he was more specific as he identified the Denver Broncos’ spot at No. 9 as a potential trade partner for the Patriots if New England wants to move up to take Justin Fields.
Here’s the segment:
.@MelKiperESPN sees the Patriots trading up for Justin Fields.
“New England, to me, is front and center.” pic.twitter.com/4YkzvgqI1a
— Get Up (@GetUpESPN) April 13, 2021
Another seasoned draft evaluator, Matt Miller, of the Draft Scout wrote the following in a recent news and notes piece on his website.
A trade up for a quarterback is very likely, based on what those around the league are hearing and the dots that are being connected. Remember, Bill Belichick has a close tie to the Ohio State program and will attend the second pro day for quarterback Justin Fields. It’s maybe too convenient to connect the two, but if the Patriots can move up for him I do think they would pull the trigger.
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The Other Side of the Argument
While the voices that proclaim the Patriots’ only path to success in 2021 and beyond is to trade up for a quarterback are loud, not everyone agrees with them.
Vinnie Iyer of the Sporting News not only has the Patriots staying put at No. 15 and drafting elite linebacker prospect Micah Parsons out of Penn State; He predicts the Patriots will wait until the fifth round to select Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond with the 177th pick in the NFL Draft.
I’m not sure Mond will still be around that long, but the concept of the Patriots waiting until the second, third or even fourth round to draft a quarterback is feasible. Fans and some members of the media get taken with the idea that the only good quarterbacks in the draft will be the ones taken in the first round. NFL general managers and coaches know better.
Too often they have found leaders of their franchises and Super Bowl winners drafted after the first round. Over the past 20 NFL seasons, the starting quarterback of the Super Bowl champion has been a player who wasn’t drafted in the first round 11 times.
Only four times in the past 20 years has the starting quarterback on the championship team been a Top-10 pick (Peyton and Eli Manning, twice apiece). A quarterback who was drafted in the Top-5 hasn’t been the Super Bowl winner since an aging Peyton Manning managed the feat in Super Bowl 50 against Newton (another No. 1 overall pick) and the Carolina Panthers to close out the 2015 season.
That should calm the obsession with grabbing one of the Top-5 quarterbacks in this draft. No one really knows whose going to be the real star? For all we know, we’ll be looking back on this time wondering how anyone thought Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, Trey Lance and Mac Jones were better than Kyle Trask, Kellen Mond, Davis Mills, or Jamie Newman.