Source (paywall) - The New England Patriots are well into the process of trying to determine whether their next franchise quarterback is part of the 2021 NFL Draft class.
The Patriots have been heavily scouting the top five quarterbacks in the class, including some who would almost certainly require a trade up the board, according to several sources. That group includes Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, BYU’s Zach Wilson, North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, Ohio State’s Justin Fields and Alabama’s Mac Jones.
Well, well, well. What do we have here? The Patriots, sitting on the 15th overall pick, investing their time and energy into deep dives into the top five prospects, at least four of whom will not likely be in reach without a huge, bold move up the board. The kind that would not only send shockwaves through the league, but open up fault lines, reach the coast, cause a tsnami and flood the world.
I hate to rely on mock drafts, because at this point nobody has any clue about what teams are thinking and they're mostly just for the clickbait. But in early March with no Combine happening, what else do we have? To put these five quarterbacks prospect in some sort of perspective, CBS Sports has four of them coming off the board with the first four picks. In order: Lawrence to the Jags of course, Wilson to the Jets, Fields to the Panthers (after a trade with the Dolphins), and Lance to the Falcons. With Jones still being available for New England at 15. NFL.com has the first two the same and Lance going to Atlanta, with Fields dropping to the Lions at No. 7 and Jones falling out of the 1st round entirely.
Check out any you care to, you'll get similar results. With the possible exception of Jones still being there for the taking at 15, and there's no guarantee because he's moving up a lot of boards, the Pats are not going to get the others without swift and decisive action. And possibly futile, because moving up in the first does not come cheap. Moves like that in this neighborhood usually require multiple high picks. And they could, and should, only spend the capital it would take to climb that high if they were convinced they were moving up to get The Guy.
Going by Jimmy Johnson's legendary Draft Value Chart, the Pats first and their second (No. 46 overall) would get them close to Detroit at No. 7. Throw in their 3rd rounder (No. 96) and that gets you one spot higher. With the returns on the rest of their picks dropping off dramatically after that. So if that's how far up they think they have to go, they'll likely have to throw in picks from next year or resign themselves with coming away from this year's satisfied that they got nothing but that aforementioned The Guy.
I'll concede this might be a Royale Nothingburger with Cheese. Last year Josh McDaniels worked out Justin Herbert. Just for the exercise or to get away from the kids for a while or something. Because there was no reasonable chance for a move from where New England was slotted (23rd) to where he went (6th). It was just a matter of doing their due diligence, and this might be nothing more than that.
But right now it's something at least. A sign that GM Bill is ready to come into the offseason guns blazin', instead of kicking back, dropping down and trying to corner the market on picks in the 90s and 100s and load up on tweener defensive backs and Rutgers guys. As Alec Baldwin put it in his legendary "Glengarry Glen Ross" cameo, nobody walks onto the lot unless they're interested. Stay tuned, I guess.