How should the New England Patriots use their top pick in the 2021 NFL Draft? Mel Kiper Jr. is waving the banner for “Team Trade-Up.”
The longtime ESPN draft analyst insisted Monday during an appearance on “Get Up” that the Patriots should move up the board and grab their quarterback of the future.
In fact, he’d be “really surprised” if they didn’t.
“What they need to do is go up and get Justin Fields,” Kiper said, referring to the Ohio State quarterback prospect. “If he’s there at 7, the Detroit Lions could be a team looking to move (down). If I’m New England, I’m not sitting at 15; no quarterback is falling in your lap. You’re not going to be that lucky or that fortunate. You’ve got to go get them. I’m going to be very surprised if they weren’t aggressive on draft day, Thursday, and go get that quarterback. …
“I’m going to be really surprised — not shocked, but really surprised — if New England didn’t move up from 15.”
With the San Francisco 49ers reportedly deciding between Alabama’s Mac Jones and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance at No. 3 overall and the Atlanta Falcons, who pick at No. 4, owing big money to current quarterback Matt Ryan over the next two seasons, Fields could be available at No. 7. The former Buckeyes standout was widely considered the second-best QB prospect before seemingly slipping behind BYU’s Zach Wilson, Jones and Lance during the pre-draft process.
Some, like NBC Sports’ Peter King, don’t believe the Patriots will be willing to pay the necessary draft capital to trade up eight spots from No. 15. Others — including some NFL teams, according to NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero — believe they have Fields in their crosshairs.
“The Patriots have been calling around (to teams) in the top 10,” Pelissero reported Monday on NFL Network, “and teams that have gotten those calls believe that (New England’s) target would be Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields.”
Pelissero speculated it would cost the Patriots “somewhere in the region of a second-round draft pick” to jump to No. 7.
The Patriots currently have Cam Newton, Jarrett Stidham and Jake Dolegala on their quarterback depth chart. Newton, the projected starter, is on a one-year contract.
The NFL draft kicks off Thursday night.