Patriots

NFL insider says Patriots are a ‘top candidate’ to move up and draft a quarterback

The Patriots currently hold the No. 15 pick in the draft.

Bill Belichick and the Patriots missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

As the NFL offseason continues to get older, the Patriots are still without a clear answer as to what they’ll do at quarterback next season.

The Patriots did bring back Cam Newton, but they haven’t brought in a new face at the position – yet. New England could be making a big play for a quarterback in the NFL Draft and is a “top contender” to trade up for one, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Friday.

In an appearance on NFL Network, Rapoport played out a scenario in which the Jaguars, Jets, and 49ers take Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, and Mac Jones, respectively. If that happens, Rapoport thinks the Falcons could go in any direction with the fourth pick, including trading. In the possible scenario that the Falcons make their pick open to trade, Rapoport said he’d expect the Patriots and Broncos to be the top suitors to trade for it.

Even if the Patriots don’t trade up to No. 4, Rapoport expects New England to grab a quarterback at some point in the draft.

“We know they have Cam Newton as the starter,” Rapoport said. “I do not anticipate that the Patriots are done at the quarterback position. I would expect them to take one at some point in the draft. Could they trade up for whichever fifth quarterback is sliding a little bit? I would say that is something to keep an eye on, if a QB gets to within striking distance.”

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Several quarterbacks have been speculated as potential picks for the Patriots throughout the draft process. Ohio State’s Justin Fields has been the more common one as of late, with multiple draft experts having the Patriots moving up to select him in recent mock drafts.

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If the Patriots pass on selecting a quarterback in the first round, there are some other names in the mid-to-late rounds that they’ve been linked to. Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond is one of them. Mond has reportedly been in communication with Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels recently and is expected to be picked in the second or third round.

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