The Patriots have a glaring need at quarterback as the NFL offseason approaches.
Mel Kiper Jr. believes New England will address the issue with its top pick April 29.
Kiper on Tuesday published his first 2021 mock draft to ESPN.com. The longtime draft analyst currently has the Patriots using the 15th overall pick on Alabama quarterback Mac Jones, a Heisman Finalist who helped lead the Crimson Tide to a national championship a few weeks ago.
“I’m thinking quarterback for the Patriots,” Kiper wrote. “They don’t pick this high often. Why not go and get your guy and build around him? Now, that changes if Bill Belichick & Co. can make a deal to get a veteran quarterback on the trade market or if Jimmy Garoppolo gets cut by the 49ers. …
“But with Cam Newton unlikely to return to New England, Jones could become a signal-caller to groom for offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. Jones can make every throw at every level of the field, and he’s extremely accurate. Plus, we know that Belichick has drafted plenty of Alabama stars and trusts Nick Saban. Jones will be at the Senior Bowl this week, and I’m expecting him to impress. And yes, if you’re keeping count, this makes five quarterbacks in the top 15 picks.”
Jones has plenty of traits that likely will appeal to NFL evaluators, as Kiper touches on, but there also are warranted concerns. He’s not a great athlete, and he was surrounded by top-tier offensive talent for his lone season as Alabama’s starting quarterback. It’s easy to envision Jones significantly struggling with a more pedestrian supporting cast, and calling the Patriots’ current group of pass-catchers “pedestrian” might be generous.
Kiper also notes New England very well could be a player in the veteran signal-caller market, which in turn could impact the team’s draft strategy. Peter King, for one, believes the 15th overall pick alone could bring Matthew Stafford to Foxboro.