NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, one of the most tied in insiders, offered what felt like an informed opinion on New England’s situation, and it seems like he can envision such a situation playing out.
“It seems like some of the main questions heading into the draft have been answered. We have an idea of who’s going No. 1 (Trevor Lawrence), we have an idea who’s going No. 2 (Zach Wilson). At No. 3, it’s a curiosity, although Mac Jones is a name closely associated to the 49ers at No. 3. And then what?,” Rapoport said during an appearance on NFL Network. “Then is the Atlanta Falcons who could take a quarterback, who could take the best position player, they’d have their choice over, well, all of them. Or they could trade out.
“… Two of the top candidates that I can identify who could trade up for a quarterback, one, are the Denver Broncos… the other team is the New England Patriots,” Rapoport continued.
The reality is that while the 49ers reportedly moved up with Jones in mind, there are plenty of other ways it could play out. San Francisco, for example, could decide to select North Dakota State product Trey Lance or even Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields at No. 3. Those two, along with Jones, are thought to round out the first tier of draft prospects that play behind center.
Essentially, whichever two signal-callers the 49ers don’t go with — and they undoubtedly will go with a quarterback — will be there at No. 4 overall.
The Broncos currently have the No. 9 overall pick while the Patriots possess No. 15 overall.
“We know they have Cam Newton as the starter. I do not anticipate that the Patriots are done at the quarterback position. I would expect them to take one at some point in the draft,” Rapoport said. “Could they trade up for whichever fifth quarterback is sliding a little bit? I would say that is something to keep and eye on, if a QB gets to within striking distance.”
And while the Falcons were specifically used in Rapoport’s example, they’re not the only ones who could be interested in trading down as they’re not interested in the quarterback sweepstakes. Perhaps the No. 6 Miami Dolphins, No. 10 Dallas Cowboys or the No. 12 Philadelphia Eagles could be among others?
The 2021 NFL Draft will kick off Thursday April 29.