Today is April 1st, which means we have officially entered draft month. From April 29-May 1, teams will select the next wave of NFL stars, which is always a reason for excitement in the NFL. After a free-agent frenzy unlike anything we’ve seen during the Bill Belichick era in New England, the Patriots have set themselves up nicely for the draft. Armed with 10 picks in this years draft, including the #15 overall selection in the first round, there is a huge sense of anticipation that the Patriots will use it to address their quarterback room. However, with the way things are currently trending around the NFL, that may not be the case.
The main reason it’s seeming like the Patriots won’t add a QB at #15 is because there may not be a QB worthy of going that high left on the board when they are up to pick. The San Francisco 49ers moving up to the #3 pick shows the aggression teams are moving with to get their guy, as the 49ers now seem set to take a QB with that pick. When the offseason began, it seemed like the Pats were in a solid position to land a QB if they felt inclined to do so. But with how aggressive other teams ahead of them are pursuing QB’s it’s starting to seem more and more unlikely by the day that they would land a QB in the first round unless they traded up.
As a result of the 49ers trade, it has seemed like Alabama QB Mac Jones has gone from being a potential late first round pick to a potential top 10 pick. Jones was initially expected to be on the board when the Patriots were up in the first round, but the doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. Trey Lance and Justin Fields have maintained their top 10 status, and it seems likely that the Carolina Panthers will be choosing between the two at the #8 pick. And if Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson aren’t the first two picks of the draft, shockwaves will be sent around the league. With atleast four teams ahead of them bound to pick a QB, and there being five first-round rated QB’s it seems likely another team will swoop in ahead of the Patriots and take a QB as well, with the Atlanta Falcons being that team in our latest mock draft.
It’s extremely unlikely that Bill Belichick will look to pull off a trade that moves the Patriots up in the draft. Sacrificing an abundance of draft capital for one player has never been the Belichick way, and it doesn’t seem like he’s willing the bend the rules of that principal for a QB this year either. While it’s not necessarily a likely scenario, you are more likely to see Belichick trade out of the #15 pick at this point rather than make a trade up in the draft. Considering the haul that the 49ers gave up to move up only nine spots in the draft, New England would have to pay a fools ransom to get to a spot where they’d be guaranteed a QB at this point.
The 49ers may have also inadvertently made their current QB Jimmy Garappolo an even easier target for New England. Garappolo has been linked with a return to Foxboro, MA for basically the entire offseason, and this move certainly hasn’t quieted those rumors. San Fran’s front office has publicly remained committed to Garappolo this far, and seem intent to let Garappolo play out the season, and let whichever QB they draft sit behind him for a season before taking over the season after. But Garappolo is set to make $26 million this upcoming season, which is a very hefty price to pay for an injury-prone bridge QB. If San Fran were to unload Garappolo, that would open up a huge chunk of salary cap space for them come next offseason, or even after the draft. At the time, a deal doesn’t seem imminent, but as time goes on, it becomes more and more likely Garappolo will get dealt, adding another QB option for New England to take a look at.
So if the Patriots don’t add a QB at the #15 pick, what position will they target instead? In our most recent mock draft, we had New England selecting Alabama wideout Devonta Smith. While drafting and developing wide receivers hasn’t worked out very well for New England, the Patriots didn’t really address the position in free agency, only adding Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne into the fold. While Julian Edelman is also (tentatively) set to return, the position still needs work, arguably more than any other position on the roster. While the Heisman winner Smith may not be available at #15, there are more then enough high end receiving talents who should be available, and the Patriots could look to bolster their offense by bringing in more receiving talent.
While all the talk is currently surrounding the Patriots adding another QB, don’t be surprised if they hold off until the later rounds to do so. As we noted earlier, there are some solid mid to late round options available in this draft that could suit the Patriots better than making a trade up or picking someone way earlier than they should be. Kyle Trask of Florida has been a guy that has been looked at as a potential second or third round guy for New England, and if the Patriots decide to focus on him, they can use their #15 overall pick to target another area of need. New England has a prime opportunity to upgrade through this upcoming draft, the question is what they will do to achieve those upgrades.
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