Although it’s fair to question just how much success the New England Patriots will have this season if they don’t upgrade at the quarterback position, ESPN’s Max Kellerman doesn’t believe Bill Belichick should prioritize selecting a QB in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
“No, I don’t (think the Patriots should prioritize drafting a quarterback), because when you do it that way — especially if you’re not picking first overall — what you start to do is kind of wish a guy into existence,” Kellerman recently said on “First Take.” “Right? Like, ‘Maybe he… ,’ even if it’s not the guy. I don’t think that’s Bill Belichick’s style, anyway. But if there was a quarterback that he loves — if he loves Trey Lance or Mac Jones, and they slip enough to where he could make a little move up and grab him, he already said theoretically he would do something like that. But you don’t just do it because quarterback needs to be a priority. And I’ll tell you why: I think people are sleeping — snoring — on Cam Newton.”
Newton, signed by New England last offseason after Tom Brady’s departure, is coming off an underwhelming 2020 in which he totaled just eight touchdown passes to 10 interceptions in 15 games. The Patriots clearly were impressed by Newton’s leadership, though, and thus they re-signed him to another one-year contract before the start of NFL free agency.
Will Newton improve in 2021? It’s really anyone’s guess given he’s entering his age-32 season and has dealt with various injuries in recent years. But there are reasons to be optimistic, as 2020 more or less was the perfect storm in terms of stacking the deck against a quarterback.
“I’ll remind everyone: With no weapons, in a brand new situation, coming off catastrophic injury, into a COVID year with no preseason, with the facilities shut down a lot, and then he got COVID, Cam Newton came two plays away from being 9-7,” Kellerman said. “As it was, he was 7-9, with a slew of wins against good quality teams. You mean to tell me in Year 2 he’s gonna be worse? No, I think if Belichick hits on some weapons in the draft on offense, if he hits on some targets for Cam Newton and some guys to help him out, that the Patriots will be very competitive to win the division — even with the Bills and the Dolphins looking really good — this year with Cam Newton.
“So if he sees the right quarterback, grab him. But don’t just make quarterback a priority (in the draft), frankly, because it doesn’t need to be at this moment.”
The Patriots will need to find their quarterback of the future at some point. Just don’t be surprised if Belichick ultimately opts against trading up for a high-profile signal-caller come Thursday night, even though New England reportedly is exploring the possibility.