clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Monday Morning Mock Draft: Patriots trade up to pick North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance

Related: Ryan Spagnoli’s seven-round mock draft 2.0: Patriots trade up to get their quarterback of the future

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

2020 NCAA Division I Football Championship Photo by Justin Tafoya/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

With free agency only two weeks away, the entire NFL is fully in offseason mode and preparing to gear up for the 2021 season. How the New England Patriots will do that coming off a 7-9 campaign that saw them miss the playoffs for the first time in 12 years remains to be seen, but we do know that the offseason will be a pivotal one for the franchise — both when it comes to free agency and the draft.

The Patriots have numerous directions they could go in the first round in late April, but let’s now take a closer look at how the experts are predicting they will invest the 15th overall selection. Welcome to the new installment of Pats Pulpit’s Monday Morning Mock Draft.

Mel Kiper Jr, ESPN: QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State

Belichick and the Patriots have been quiet this offseason, but that should change soon. They have money to spend in free agency, and they need to find a quarterback. It doesn’t appear likely that Cam Newton will return. The veteran QB trade market has dwindled. I could see a Jimmy Garoppolo return to New England, but I’m not sold that he’d be the long-term answer. Lance could be. He started only 17 career games in college — all against FCS competition — but he’s only 20, and he has all the tools to be a great dual-threat quarterback. Remember that the Patriots have a few players returning after opting out of last season, too, so they could contend in the AFC East again.

Even though Bill Belichick is known for trading down, he is never afraid to move up the board either to get a player he wants. Josh Uche and Devin Asiasi are examples, with New England moving up to bring them aboard last year. The team also has moved up in the first round before: in 2012, New England made not one but two trades up to select defensive end Chandler Jones and linebacker Dont’a Hightower.

In Mel Kiper Jr’s latest mock draft, the Patriots also make a trade: they send “at least the No. 15 pick, a second-round pick and a 2022 pick” to the Denver Broncos to move up to the ninth overall selection and grab North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance. One of the top prospects in this year’s class and a player with an immensely high ceiling, Lance is a player worth moving up for even if the price is steep: he has all the tools to become a franchise quarterback, and would give the Patriots a legitimate successor to Tom Brady.

To find out more about Lance, please check out his entry in our Patriots Draft Guide.

Poll

How would you grade the selection of QB Trey Lance at No. 9?

This poll is closed

  • 39%
    A
    (425 votes)
  • 31%
    B
    (336 votes)
  • 16%
    C
    (180 votes)
  • 5%
    D
    (64 votes)
  • 6%
    F
    (67 votes)
1072 votes total Vote Now

Josh Edwards, CBS Sports: QB Mac Jones, Alabama

I do not think Bill Belichick is going to sit around and allow other teams to make decisions at the quarterback position before he gets his opportunity; especially after watching Tom Brady win a Super Bowl elsewhere. Mac Jones is not the ideal quarterback, but he is a substantial upgrade over what the franchise received a year ago.

In case the Patriots do not want to surrender numerous high draft picks to get a player like Trey Lance, Mac Jones would be a good “consolation price” of sorts if he was available at No. 15 (which is not a given as Mel Kiper Jr. has him come off the board at No. 8 to the Carolina Panthers in his latest mock, for example). While not as flashy a player and offering a lower ceiling, the Alabama product still has the skillset to turn into a viable starting quarterback at the next level — albeit as more of a traditional pocket passer compared to the top-four at the position. Still, Jones would give New England a solid foundation to build upon.

To find out more about Jones, please check out his entry in our Patriots Draft Guide.

Poll

How would you grade the selection of QB Mac Jones at No. 15?

This poll is closed

  • 27%
    A
    (538 votes)
  • 33%
    B
    (640 votes)
  • 24%
    C
    (463 votes)
  • 8%
    D
    (157 votes)
  • 6%
    F
    (125 votes)
1923 votes total Vote Now

Anthony Treash, Pro Football Focus: WR Rashod Bateman, Minnesota

We don’t know who will be leading the Pats’ offense next season, but that QB is obviously going to need some new receiving weapons. Rashod Bateman certainly fits the bill. The Minnesota product is another top-notch route-runner with an elite release package. He played predominantly on the outside in 2019 before kicking inside into the slot for most of the shortened 2020 season, but he remained productive regardless of position. Bateman ranked seventh in the FBS in yards per route run in 2019 (3.48) and finished sixth in 2020 (3.45). The Minnesota receiver joined DeVonta Smith as the only receiver to generate more than 3.4 yards per route in each of the last two seasons.

In case New England opts against making a move for a quarterback, the other glaring need on the offensive side of the ball could become the team’s focus in Round One. Part of the second tier of wideouts available this year — a group that is behind top-three Ja’Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith — Rashod Bateman would help upgrade a wide receiver room that lacks a true number one and really has only one player under contract who can be counted on to be a contributor in 2021 (Jakobi Meyers). The Minnesota product would immediately give the Patriots another player to fall into this category.

Poll

How would you grade the selection of WR Rashod Bateman at No. 15?

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    A
    (130 votes)
  • 26%
    B
    (326 votes)
  • 32%
    C
    (395 votes)
  • 17%
    D
    (220 votes)
  • 12%
    F
    (154 votes)
1225 votes total Vote Now

Trevor Sikkema, The Draft Network: CB Jaycee Horn, South Carolina

The Patriots’ projected secondary for 2021 shows just one player under the age of 30. Combine that with the reports that star cornerback Stephon Gilmore was on the trade block at the deadline last year, and the Patriots could be looking to move on from him again this offseason with only one year left on his deal. They won’t just want to move him without a plan, though. The aggressive man covering corner Horn could be that plan.

A popular mock draft pick recently, selecting Jaycee Horn would help the Patriots bring some long-term stability to their cornerback position. While the group could still be the deepest on the roster in 2021, the uncertain futures of Stephon Gilmore (trade candidate), J.C. Jackson (restricted free agent) and Jason McCourty (unrestricted free agent) might create a scenario in which New England indeed goes after a starting-caliber perimeter cornerback such as Horn in Round One.

Poll

How would you grade the selection of CB Jaycee Horn at No. 15?

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    A
    (109 votes)
  • 28%
    B
    (397 votes)
  • 32%
    C
    (462 votes)
  • 20%
    D
    (284 votes)
  • 11%
    F
    (163 votes)
1415 votes total Vote Now

Charley Casserly, NFL Network: TE Kyle Pitts, Florida

Pitts is too good of a talent to pass on, especially for an offense lacking playmakers.

Bill Belichick is no fan of Charley Casserly — once wondering publicly “who has been wrong more wrong” than him since he left Washington — but he might be a fan of Kyle Pitts dropping all the way to the 15th overall selection in late April. The consensus best tight end in this year’s draft and a player capable of having a transformative effect on New England’s offense from Day One, Pitts would become the TE1 the team has lacked ever since Rob Gronkowski’s departure after the 2018 season.

Poll

How would you grade the selection of TE Kyle Pitts at No. 15?

This poll is closed

  • 72%
    A
    (887 votes)
  • 19%
    B
    (236 votes)
  • 5%
    C
    (67 votes)
  • 1%
    D
    (13 votes)
  • 1%
    F
    (13 votes)
1216 votes total Vote Now