Could the Patriots later this month use their first-round pick on a quarterback for the second time in three years?
That would have been unimaginable over the course of the 2021 season, which saw Mac Jones earn a Pro Bowl nod and lead New England to the NFL playoffs as a rookie. But the Alabama product’s sophomore campaign was so disastrous that the future of the quarterback position in Foxboro is uncertain. Jones also has been the subject of trade rumors in the weeks leading up to the 2023 draft.
In his latest mock draft published Tuesday, NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein projected the Patriots to use the 14th overall pick on Jones’ potential replacement, Anthony Richardson. The Florida product is one of the four best signal-caller prospects in this year’s draft class and features a skill set vastly different from Jones’.
“There’s reportedly tension between Bill Belichick and Mac Jones. In this scenario, the Patriots look to deal Jones for a draft pick and choose to develop the dynamic but raw Richardson,” Zierlein wrote.
Richardson had a formal meeting with the Patriots at February’s NFL Scouting Combine and called it a “great interview” with the six-time Super Bowl champs. There hasn’t been any Richardson-New England chatter since, perhaps because the 6-foot-4, 232-pound QB is expected to be off the board by the time the Patriots pick at No. 14. Trading up in the early rounds for a quarterback would be an unprecedented move for Bill Belichick and company, who had Jones fall into their lap at No. 15 two years ago.
A far more likely scenario is New England spending a Day 3 pick on a signal-caller to join Jones and Bailey Zappe. The Patriots reportedly have also considered adding a veteran to the group in wake of Brian Hoyer’s departure.