In the wake of Tom Brady’s Super Bowl LV win, Bill Belichick and the Patriots might face an increased level of scrutiny over what the team does to address the need for a quarterback in 2021.
With that in mind, many of the early projections had New England selecting a quarterback with the 15th pick in the NFL draft.
But in a recent mock draft, ESPN’s Todd McShay went a different route. With quarterbacks flying off the board in his newest projection (released on Wednesday), McShay has Belichick taking Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons.
While it wouldn’t be an idea scenario for the Patriots — given the need at quarterback — McShay sees the highly rated Parsons as a more than worthy “consolation” in the middle of the first round.
“Parsons — my No. 4 prospect overall — slides to the No. 15 pick here because of unique circumstances following a rush on [quarterbacks] and wide receivers,” wrote McShay. “Dont’a Hightower will be back after opting out of the 2020 season and Chase Winovich has been disruptive off the edge, but Parsons gives Belichick a true sideline-to-sideline linebacker who can do a little bit of everything. And if the team moves on from Hightower after the 2021 season when he is set to be a free agent, Parsons would be the QB of this defense going forward.”
The reason why McShay thinks the draft board could be so disheveled (with Parsons, a top-five talent, slipping) is that he projects four quarterbacks to go in the first four picks of the draft.
“It’s never happened in the history of the common draft era with four quarterbacks going consecutively, one through four,” McShay explained in a Wednesday interview on ESPN. “And I don’t know that Atlanta’s going to end up taking a quarterback there. But I do think once we see Trevor Lawrence go No. 1, and Zach Wilson go No. 2, teams are going to start to get nervous. And we’re going to have to see which teams still need quarterbacks. Is it Dallas? Is it New England at 15, is it Chicago at 20, Indianapolis at 21? There are several other teams that could be in the mix when it’s all said and done.”
But, as he noted in his mock draft, it seems unlikely that Belichick would lead the charge to trade up in order to get a quarterback.
Instead, New England’s focus could be in free agency.
“It doesn’t seem to be in New England’s nature to trade up for one,” McShay noted. “Watch the free-agent market closely and keep an eye on what happens with former Patriot Jimmy Garoppolo, but if it comes down to the draft, the Patriots might have to look to Day 2 if all five QBs are indeed off the board.”
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