Mel Kiper Jr. Projects Patriots’ First-Round Pick In Latest Mock Draft

'This is a good fit'


Mar 23, 2021

Mel Kiper Jr. in the second installment of his 2021 NFL mock draft had the Patriots trading up to No. 9 to select North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance.

Kiper in his latest mock has New England waiting until its scheduled No. 15 to make its first pick of next month’s draft, but the veteran analyst still has Bill Belichick and Co. targeting a signal-caller.

With Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Justin Fields and Lance all off the board in this hypothetical scenario, Kiper has the Patriots grabbing Alabama QB Mac Jones at No. 15.

“Look at that — New England doesn’t even have to trade up to find its quarterback,” Kiper wrote for “Cam Newton is returning for another season, of course, and that was a smart deal to bring back a well-respected guy whom the rest of the locker room loves. But Newton is not likely to be the Patriots’ guy past 2021, and Jones could soak up the pro game for a season before taking over as the starter.

“I’ve gotten in trouble before for saying that a few quarterbacks are ‘Tom Brady-like,’ but I’m really talking about accurate, tall pocket passers. I’m not predicting that these guys are going to become Hall of Famers. When I watch Jones, I can see some of the traits that have made Brady so good for so long. Jones is a pinpoint thrower who can manipulate the pocket and find targets down the field. He is a leader in the locker room too. This is a good fit.”

Another factor that potentially could drive Jones to Foxboro is Belichick’s longstanding relationship with Nick Saban. If the Crimson Tide’s head coach swears by Jones, Belichick could be more motivated to make a move for the Heisman Trophy finalist. And as Kiper notes, Jones fits the mold of the type of signal-caller New England historically has favored.

The 2021 draft is slated to begin April 29.

Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images
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