Although there’s been plenty of chatter about New England possibly trading up to select a quarterback, with Ohio State QB Justin Fields representing a potential target, ESPN NFL draft analyst Todd McShay is hearing the Patriots could take the opposite approach.
“Two separate sources within the league (not inside the Patriots organization) said New England is more likely to move back than up based on pre-draft conversations,” McShay wrote in a piece published Monday on ESPN.com. “So no, it doesn’t sound like the Patriots are going up the board to get a QB. And like we all already know, moving back is more in line with what coach Bill Belichick likes to do on draft day.”
This is a stark contrast from what McShay’s colleague and fellow draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. is projecting for New England. Kiper said Monday on ESPN’s “Get Up” he’d be “really surprised” if the Patriots don’t trade up for a quarterback in Round 1.
NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero, meanwhile, reported Monday that New England has called teams drafting inside the top 10 and that those teams believe the Patriots would target Fields if they traded up.
The Patriots currently own the No. 15 overall pick in the draft, which is expected to see an early run on quarterbacks. Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson are projected to go No. 1 and No. 2 to the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets, respectively. The San Francisco 49ers then are expected to select a QB at No. 3, though it’s unclear whether they’ll choose Fields, Mac Jones or Trey Lance.
The Patriots could stand pat in the hopes of landing a signal-caller at No. 15. But there are a few teams — including the Atlanta Falcons at No. 4, the Carolina Panthers at No. 8 and the Denver Broncos at No. 9 — that might throw a wrench into those plans. Plus, there are other franchises that could look to trade up, as well, hence why there’s so much speculation about New England needing to be aggressive to land its QB of the future.
“One additional thought: Could we see the fifth QB fall this far? It’s possible,” McShay wrote. “But if New England is truly not in love with one of the top five signal-callers and won’t make the trade up, we could see Washington and Chicago racing up to get whoever is still there, be it Mac Jones, Trey Lance or Justin Fields.”
Basically, in terms of figuring out the Patriots’ mindset, it depends who you ask. This makes predicting New England’s first-round pick nearly impossible, creating even more intrigue than usual this year.