There are five top-tier quarterback prospects in this year’s draft class, but the Patriots effectively will only have a shot at two of them.
Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson are virtual locks to go first and second overall, respectively, April 29. All signs point toward the 49ers going quarterback at No. 3, but it remains to be seen which signal-caller San Francisco covets.
For the sake of an exercise, ESPN’s “Get Up” panel on Tuesday tabbed Justin Fields to the Niners, leaving New England with Mac Jones and Trey Lance as candidates to trade up for in Round 1. And when it boils down to those two, Field Yates would advise Bill Belichick and Co. to err on potential rather than past production.
“I’m trading up for Trey Lance,” Yates said. “I just see a significantly higher ceiling for this player. Mac Jones fits the confines of what the Patriots have had under center for 20 of the past 21 years, obviously last year being the exception. You have to look at the direction in which the NFL is evolving right now. You had eight quarterbacks rush for over 400 yards last season. The Patriots, within their own division, saw Josh Allen make major strides last year. Yes, he’s a gifted thrower, but where he can really torture you is on second-reaction plays. Even if his initial read is not there or there is pressure in the pocket, Josh Allen might run toward the sideline like he’s getting ready to run out of bounds and then the next thing you know he’ll launch the football 40 yards down the field to Stefon Diggs. The game is changing. Trey Lance offers you the ability to keep up with how the game is changing.”
Lance probably would not be a Day 1 starter in New England if drafted by the Patriots. But the North Dakota State product would have an opportunity to learn from Cam Newton, a fellow dual-threat QB who’s amassed quite a bit of success at the pro level. New England, theoretically, could take a Patrick Mahomes approach with Lance and have him ready to go as an NFL sophomore.
The Patriots, at the very minimum, clearly are intrigued by Lance, as they were well-represented at his second pro day Monday.