For a moment, it looked like Justin Fields was going to fall into the Patriots’ lap.
After quarterbacks were taken with the first three picks of the 2021 NFL Draft, there was not another signal-caller selected inside the top 10. Even the QB-needy Denver Broncos went in a different direction at No. 9.
The Chicago Bears ultimately made a power play for Fields, trading up to land the Ohio State product with the 11th overall pick. But had Fields slid a bit more, he reportedly still would not have been available for the Patriots at No. 15.
According to ESPN’s Courtney Cronin, the Minnesota Vikings were ready to select Fields at No. 14 overall if he still was on the board.
“The Vikings were stunned, and this one really stung,” Cronin wrote. “They wanted one of the top quarterbacks, but they weren’t desperate enough to give up that kind of draft capital for a player who would be sitting behind (Kirk) Cousins for at least a year.
“But Fields was the guy for Minnesota, and the team was prepared to take him if he had been there at No. 14 and begin a process of shifting course.”
The Patriots still managed to draft one of the best quarterbacks in the class, as Mac Jones — to the surprise of some — was ripe for the taking at 15th overall. The Vikings proceeded to wait until the third round to select Cousins’ potential replacement, Texas A&M product Kellen Mond.
As Cronin notes, narrowly missing out on Fields was a tough pill to swallow for the Vikings. Those feelings could intensify if the new Bears quarterback dominates the NFC North for years to come.