Patriots head coach and GM Bill Belichick has had one hell of a busy offseason leading up to this years draft. After a 7-9 season where Patriots fans showed how entitled they really feel, the team came into this offseason with multiple question marks on the roster, and for once an abundance of cash to spend. He wasn’t shy about spending the money either, going on a bit of a frenzy the first two days of free agency and addressing just about every need on the roster. One major question mark was left however, at the most critical position in all of sports. No matter what kind of chance you give Cam Newton at quarterback this year, there’s no denying that he is not the long term answer. And this draft class is loaded with talent at the quarterback position.
The first two quarterbacks I think the Patriots have a reasonable shot of attaining are actually my two favorite prospects in this draft, outside of Trevor Lawrence who should already be looking for property in Jacksonville. With the Jets looking set to select BYU’s Zach Wilson at 2, and Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers allegedly having a love affair with Mac Jones at 3rd overall, we are potentially left with an outside shot at the Patriots being able to move up for either Justin Fields or Trey Lance. This said, I really don’t think Fields is making it past the 49ers. But the closer we get to draft day the smoke there is on Mac Jones being the choice, and sometimes when there’s this much smoke there’s bound to be a fire. Obviously with the Patriots positioned with the 15th overall pick, getting one of these two guys would likely require trading up into the top 10. Belichick has been aggressive all off season, and all signs point to him looking to be aggressive on draft night as well. We know Atlanta had been taking calls for the 4th overall pick but I have a feeling Atlanta stays put. More realistically I would look for them to trade up into the 7 through 9 range. Detroit will roll with Jared Goff for a year, Carolina gave up decent capital to give Sam Darnold his second chance and Denver is more of a wild card, but they could be persuaded to part ways with this pick.
If Fields does slip past 3 or 4, thats when I think the Patriots will really start to get aggressive. In most other draft classes, Justin Fields would probably be a consensus number one overall pick. All you really need to do to see why is watch the absolute clinic Fields put on against Clemson in the National Championship. Both of his pro days were excellent showcases of his athleticism as well, but I’ve never put much stock into Pro Days and I never will. I’ve seen all the concerns that Fields is just a one read guy, and that guys from Ohio States system don’t pan out, and frankly I think those concerns are a bunch of bullshit. As far as the one read take goes, once again you just need to watch the tape to see that that’s not true. Knowing what you’re looking at does tend to help with that. This trend of Ohio State quarterbacks not panning out I guess does hold a little water but not much in my eyes. Ohio State coach Ryan Day runs a different system than Urban Meyer does, and the recent QB busts from there came under Meyer’s tenure. Also his history of quarterbacks not making it in the NFL goes back to his time at Florida. If anything this talk of the system makes me more worried about Trevor Lawrence’s future than it does Justin Fields.
The next guy to look at is whom the Patriots are more likely to be able to go after, and that’s Trey Lance out of North Dakota State. Our draft experts with Official Budhole agree with me that even with the abundance of quarterback talent in this draft, Trey Lance probably has the best potential upside out of the whole class. As a 19 year old first year starter at NDSU, Lance tossed 2,786 yards and 28 touchdowns to ZERO interceptions, while completing 66.9 % of his passes. He added another 1100 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground, averaging a pretty impressive 6.5 yards per carry. You can say what about the competition level all you want but to me those numbers are impressive against any level of competition, especially not turning the ball over once as a first year starter. Lance stands at 6’4 227 and runs the ball with more toughness than he does speed, which is not to say he’s slow as his 40 yard dash was timed in the 4.5’s. The concern to me about Trey Lance is his age, as he will only be turning 21 shortly after the draft and that is a reasonable concern. I think Lance is best suited to sit behind a veteran for his rookie year and maybe even two years. Ironically right now on the Patriots is an ideal veteran for a guy like Lance to sit behind in Cam Newton.
Regardless who we draft, you should be prepared for Cam to at least start the season at quarterback. I was expecting him to re-sign here because I have been under the assumption for some time now that the Patriots would be targeting Fields or Lance in the draft. Cam may not be mechanically sound as a quarterback, but the play style Cam does his best in is the exact type of play style that these two look like they would excel in. It would allow the Patriots to continue moving the offense in the direction they were last season, without having to make much of a change to the system if they have to make a change at quarterback. Furthermore, Cam’s name and reputation as a former MVP still holds weight, especially to these younger guys.
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