The Patriots spent the opening days of free agency shelling out cash to fix several holes across their roster. New England’s spent nearly $300 million so far this offseason addressing needs at wide receiver, tight end, defensive line, linebacker, and the secondary.
The one need they haven’t addressed, at least by bringing in a new face, is quarterback. The Patriots re-signed Cam Newton days before the start of free agency, but have so far passed on signing a veteran quarterback.
On the “Move the Sticks” podcast, NFL Draft expert Daniel Jeremiah and co-host Bucky Brooks discussed how the moves the Patriots made in free agency could increase the likelihood they draft a quarterback.
“I think the New England Patriots could be real aggressive,” Brooks said. “We’ve seen the New England Patriots step outside their comfort zone as it relates to free agency. We saw them completely rebuild the roster with the number of signings and free agency. … I believe they’re about to go all in on an offensive makeover. The young quarterback is the final piece to the puzzle. And I think that quarterback will be an athletic quarterback.”
That’s when Jeremiah stepped in with a quarterback he’s been hearing who the Patriots could select: Ohio State’s Justin Fields.
“I keep an eye on somebody like Trey Lance or Justin Fields,” Jeremiah said. “Those are the two that would make sense for them to target. Hear a lot of rumors out there that they are really high on Justin Fields out of Ohio State. So, they’d have to (trade up) quite a ways to get Justin Fields.”
Fields, a two-year starter at Ohio State, is seen by many draft scouts as the second- or third-best quarterback in this draft class. Fields threw for 61 touchdowns to nine interceptions over the last two seasons, throwing for 3,273 yards in 2019 and 2,100 yards eight games in the shortened 2020 season.
Fields definitely checks out the athletic checkbox Brooks brought up, too. In 2019, Fields rushed for 484 yards and 10 touchdowns and followed that up with 383 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns in 2020. On Thursday, Fields shared a video of him running a 4.41 40-yard dash. His 40-yard dash will officially be recorded at Ohio State’s Pro Day on March 30.
Had to let ‘em know. I’ll be in the 4.3’s by Pro Day.. ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/6JcFCqGVaJ
— Justin Fields (@justnfields) March 19, 2021
As Jeremiah pointed out, the Patriots would likely have to trade up in the draft to get Fields. The Patriots currently hold the 15th pick in the first round, but many mock drafts have Fields getting selected in the top five, with some having him getting picked by the Jets with the No. 2 pick.
Lance, the other “athletic” quarterback mentioned by Jeremiah, could be the easier quarterback for the Patriots to draft. While many draft analysts expect Lance to be selected in the top 10, Lance could be the more feasible player to trade up for if he slides closer or even past the 10th pick. The Patriots had a scout present at Lance’s Pro Day earlier this month, but Bill Belichick didn’t attend to see Lance throw in person.
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