Justin Fields to the New England Patriots? Mel Kiper Jr. can see it.
The longtime ESPN draft analyst has the Patriots landing Fields in his latest NFL mock draft — and only needing to trade up five spots to do so.
In Kiper’s mock, New England sends a 2022 first-round pick to the Dallas Cowboys to jump from No. 15 to No. 10 and nab Fields, his second-highest-rated quarterback prospect behind presumptive top pick Trevor Lawrence.
“All the moves the Patriots made in free agency showed me that they believe they can get right back into competing for the AFC East title, but I don’t think Cam Newton is the quarterback to get them there,” Kiper wrote Tuesday. “He had too many accuracy issues last season. He’s not the long-term answer. Fields had an up-and-down 2020 season, but he can be a star if he becomes more consistent. And I trust that offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels will get him there.”
ESPN’s other top draft analyst, Todd McShay, also mocked Fields to the Patriots last week. In McShay’s projection, the Ohio State QB slides to No. 11, where New England grabs him after trading up with the New York Giants.
With a current depth chart of Newton (on a one-year contract), Jarrett Stidham and Jake Dolegala, finding a long-term answer at quarterback should be a priority for the Patriots. Having addressed nearly all of their immediate needs through free agency, they have the flexibility and resources to trade up for a top-tier signal-caller — likely either Fields or North Dakota State’s Trey Lance — if they choose to do so.
The Patriots reportedly are planning to attend Fields’ second pro day this Wednesday. Albert Breer of The MMQB wrote he “wouldn’t be surprised” if McDaniels is “leading a group there for New England.”
Kiper has the Patriots taking Clemson slot receiver Amari Rodgers in the second round. With Julian Edelman announcing his retirement Monday, New England could use more wideout depth, even after adding veteran free agents Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne.