With the NFL Draft now just less than three weeks away, speculation on what the Patriots will do is starting to heat up.
One of the more popular scenarios speculated recently is the Patriots trading up in the draft and moving up to as high as the No. 4 pick – which is currently held by the Atlanta Falcons. The scenario is enticing because many would expect the Patriots to select their future quarterback if they made such a move. However, a pair of people who used to be in the organization don’t see that scenario playing out.
Former Patriots assistant Michael Lombardi doesn’t believe the Patriots view quarterbacks Justin Fields or Trey Lance, who are both currently expected to be the top two quarterbacks available at pick No. 4, highly enough in order to justify the cost of trading up.
“They’re not far away. Obviously, they have to fix the quarterback position,” Lombardi said on the ‘GM Shuffle’ podcast. “Cam Newton has to play much better. Where are they with Jarrett Stidham, and can they trade up? If Mac Jones goes three, which is what we all believe to be true, then where does that all fit? That means get to [No.] 4. Do they like Justin Fields? I don’t think so. Do they like Trey Lance? I’m not sure. I don’t know.
“Just knowing how they operate, I couldn’t imagine they could get either one of Lance or Fields to a high enough point to justify trading up to get them. This is what fans don’t understand. If you have a grading system that you have to really adhere to, you’ve got to be able to say; well Lombardi says, ‘They don’t like Fields and they don’t like Lance.’ That doesn’t mean they don’t like them. What I’m saying is they don’t have them graded high enough to be able to justify them at that point in the draft.”
In order to move up to the fourth pick, Sports Illustrated NFL insider Albert Breer speculated that the Patriots would have to part with their first-round pick and both fourth-round picks in this year’s draft plus their first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. The price could be higher than that, though. In March, the 49ers gave up their 2022 and 2023 first-round picks plus their 2022 third-round pick in addition to the No. 12 pick in this year’s draft in order to move up to No. 3.
Former Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson agrees with Lombardi that he doesn’t think Bill Belichick will make the drastic move up. Like Lombardi, he doesn’t think that Fields, Lance, or even Mac Jones are enough of a “sure-thing” to move up and draft.
“With Justin Fields, Trey Lance, and of course Mac Jones, with those guys, you don’t really know what you’re getting,” Johnson said on NBC Sports Boston’s “Early Edition.” “I think it’s just, the first two guys off the board (likely to be Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson), it’s more of a sure-thing as opposed to the other guys. And I don’t think Bill wants to trade up because you just saw his owner, his boss, Robert Kraft last week talk about the draft and how poor it’s been. I just can’t see Bill spending all this money and then having all these bad drafts the last few years and trading up and giving future draft equity to get an unknown commodity.”
“I just think Bill doesn’t want to trade up, because now that player has leverage over Bill that he would’ve had otherwise,” Johnson later added. “I don’t think Bill wants to give up that kind of leverage, especially to a rookie quarterback.”
While Lombardi and Johnson speculated that the Patriots don’t view Fields that highly, NFL Network draft insiders Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks speculated in March that they could be interested in the Ohio State quarterback.
“I keep an eye on somebody like Trey Lance or Justin Fields,” Jeremiah said then. “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.”
ESPN NFL Draft expert Todd McShay predicted in his latest mock draft that the Patriots would trade up to the 11th pick to select Fields. NFL Network insider Peter Schrager predicted the Patriots would trade up to the fourth pick in order to get Fields.
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