The New England Patriots currently own the 15th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. They haven’t selected that high since 2008 when they grabbed linebacker Jerod Mayo at 10th overall.
So, the Patriots are heading into a unique situation with more options than usual Thursday night.
Here are four options for the Patriots in the first round:
TRADE UP FOR QB
This scenario would be more probable if the San Francisco 49ers take a quarterback other than Alabama’s Mac Jones at No. 3 overall. The 49ers are most likely to take Jones with their top pick, however. So, don’t hold your breath expecting New England to move up for a passer.
We believe the Patriots would be most likely to trade up for a quarterback if Jones starts to fall. It’s possible they like Ohio State’s Justin Fields or North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, but those situations are tougher to gauge. Lance does seem like a better fit for New England than Fields, but Fields appears to be the better player. Former Patriots executive Michael Lombardi said Wednesday that he can’t see New England trading up for Fields.
The Patriots should trade up for a quarterback. We’re just not convinced they will.
TRADE UP FOR WIDE RECEIVER
The top three wide receivers in the 2021 NFL Draft are LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase and Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith. Any of those three players could be game-breakers in the NFL, and if you can’t add a quarterback, you can at least help your QB by grabbing a top-tier wide receiver.
Smith is the most likely option to be available within range of a potential trade up.
STAY PUT AT NO. 15 OVERALL
If the Patriots keep their 15th overall pick, some potential options include USC offensive tackle Alijah Vera-Tucker, Miami defensive end Jaelan Phillips, a quarterback — possibly either Fields or Lance — or South Carolina cornerback Jaycee Horn. If the Patriots are comfortable with some off-field concerns, Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons also could be in play.
If the Patriots trade back, it’s a sign that either the player they wanted is off the board, or that they have multiple players with the same grade still available and they feel like they could get one of those options later while adding additional draft capital.
So, all of the above options are on the table in a trade back. We’d also include Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins and the Patriots’ favorite of the tier-two quarterbacks (Florida’s Kyle Trask, Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond and Stanford’s Davis Mills).