Former NFL executive and current ESPN analyst Louis Riddick believes the New England Patriots‘ Bill Belichick would love to coach North Dakota State star Trey Lance–and Ohio State standout Justin Fields. However, in Riddick’s qualified opinion, Alabama’s Mac Jones is the better fit for the organization.
Riddick shared his opinion in a long and informative article in The Athletic from Jeff Howe. Riddick isn’t just a veteran who has worked in the Philadelphia Eagles’ front office. During his playing days, he played for Belichick when he was a coach of the Cleveland Browns.
“Bill is a very astute evaluator of talent,” said Riddick. “He sees what Justin Fields has going for him. You think he wouldn’t love to coach him? Of course, he would. And of course, he would love to coach Trey Lance. But I think Mac [Jones] just seems to fit with what I believe would give them the quickest return on their investment in that particular system.”
As Riddick acknowledges in a later quote, he doesn’t see Belichick getting an opportunity to get his hands on Jones. Many believe the San Francisco 49ers will select Jones with the No. 3 pick in the draft on Thursday. With Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence and BYU’s Zach Wilson presumably off the board with the No. 1 and 2 picks to the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets, respectively, New England will then have a conundrum.
Is it worth it to pay the price to move up into the top eight slots for a chance to draft Lance or Fields?
The Patriots Will Need to Be Aggressive if They Want Lance or Fields
There are a handful of teams sitting above and below the Patriots in the draft order who might also be willing to trade up in hopes of drafting Lance or Fields. The Chicago Bears, Washington Football Team, Denver Broncos, Las Vegas Raiders, and the Pittsburgh Steelers could make a case for going after either prospect.
The Broncos are ahead of the Patriots at No. 9, so they may put together a better package if the desired spot is 4-8. As for the Bears at No. 20, WFT at No. 19, the Raiders at No. 17, and the Pittsburgh Steelers at No. 24, each of those teams would have to offer more draft assets than the Patriots to offer a better deal to a team willing to trade back.
Once the Atlanta Falcons at No. 4, the Cincinnati Bengals at No. 5, the Detroit Lions at No. 7, the Carolina Panthers at No. 8, and perhaps even the Dallas Cowboys at No. 9 are on the clock, the phones should be ringing off the hook from teams looking to make a deal.
Patriots Legend Loves Jones Too
Riddick isn’t alone in his admiration of Jones. Former Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis gushed over Jones’ skills and dismissed the notion his success was due to his incredible cast of teammates at Alabama.
“You talk about being around good players. Yeah, he was around good players,” Weis said. “But playing on a team with a bunch of stars, who is the leader of the offense?” Weis said. “He also had to make all those throws. I think the kid is an excellent quarterback. He has less holes than just about anybody.”
That sounds like a guy who would fit Belichick’s wishlist, but it seems like he’s also on the Niners’ shortlist, too, so the point may be moot.