It is no secret that the New England Patriots are looking for a long-term solution at the quarterback position in this year’s draft. Even after re-signing incumbent starter Cam Newton to a one-year deal in free agency, they are busy finding a potential replacement or successor among the prospects available this week.
What the Patriots will eventually do is anybody’s guess, of course, but they appear to be in the process of casting a wide net at the most important position on the field. New England has not been linked to many concrete passers at this point in time, but the team has been busy behind the scenes — from attending numerous workouts, to holding virtual interviews, to exploring potential trades up the board in case the top-tier guys start dropping.
With that being said, let’s take a look at the contact New England has had with the most prominent players the 2021 quarterback class has to offer.
Trevor Lawrence, Clemson: Lawrence is the presumptive pick to be selected first overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars, but that did not stop the Patriots from attending his Pro Day. Why? To gather as much information about the highest-ranked player in the draft this year as possible, and to evaluate a future opponent.
Zach Wilson, BYU: New England sent one of its top-tier talent evaluators to Provo to take a look at Wilson’s Pro Day. Scouting consultant Eliot Wolf will likely not have watched the team’s QB of the future — Wilson is a realistic candidate to join the New York Jets at No. 2 — but more intel is always welcome. And we also all know that anything can happen on draft day.
Trey Lance, North Dakota State: Lance would neither confirm nor deny having spoken with Patriots head coach/general manager Bill Belichick on a virtual call, but the team has shown some interest in him. New England sent national scout Matt Groh to attend his first Pro Day, with Wolf and assistant director of player personnel Dave Ziegler present for his second.
Lance is as an intriguing a quarterback as any in this year’s class, and there is no telling whether or not he makes it past the San Francisco 49ers at No. 3. If he does, however, the Patriots will be ready.
Justin Fields, Ohio State: This is where things get interesting for the Patriots. The belief is that New England likes Fields and there have been rumors that the club might consider trading up for him if he makes it out of the top-3. The Carolina Panthers have already been identified as a potential trade partner, and it seems as if the Atlanta Falcons have also spoken with the team (via The Athletic’s Jeff Howe):
[T]hese trade discussions are a strong indication they’ve found conviction in at least one of those top quarterbacks, and word is they think highly of Ohio State’s Justin Fields — highly enough that they’ve even spoken with the Atlanta Falcons about the fourth pick.
While the asking price will be the deciding factor regardless if New England is negotiating with Atlanta or Carolina, the club seems to at least be doing its homework on a potential move up the board. Given the unpredictability up top, this is obviously smart business.
The Patriots also were in touch with Fields at both of his two Pro Days. Wolf attended his first throwing session, with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels joining Ziegler and Groh for his second.
Mac Jones, Alabama: Despite Jones being the most prominent mock draft pick for the Patriots this offseason, there has been little reported contact between the two parties. That said, New England sent the big guns to his second Pro Day down in Tuscaloosa — Belichick and McDaniels — and also touched base with him at the Senior Bowl.
Jones seemingly could come off the board anywhere given that the 49ers are also reportedly interested in his services. Of course, the Crimson Tide QB also could drop down the board and maybe even land in New England without the Patriots having to trade up into the top seven or eight picks.
Kellen Mond, Texas A&M: There is a steep drop-off after Jones in this year’s class, with the next tier significantly less polished. Among them is Kellen Mond, who has reportedly been in constant contact with the Patriots since meeting their representatives at the Senior Bowl and even exchanged the occasional text with McDaniels.
Davis Mills, Stanford: Another potential Day 2 option for New England, Mills and the Patriots have reportedly touched base in a virtual interview recently: the two “spent a long time on Zoom,” per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
Kyle Trask, Florida: After watching Mac Jones’ second Pro Day, Josh McDaniels boarded a plane to Gainesville to watch Kyle Trask work out. Another potential Day 2 pick, Trask is a stylistically different player than Justin Fields, Trey Lance or Kellen Mond but that does not mean New England could not be interested.
Jamie Newman, Wake Forest/Georgia: After opting out of the 2020 season, Newman is expected to come off the board in one of the middle or late rounds this weekend. Could the Patriots be a landing spot? Tough to tell, but they have at least spoken with him at the Senior Bowl.
Sam Ehlinger, Texas: The Patriots were present at Ehlinger’s Pro Day last month, even though it is not known just how much contact they actually had with him. The Longhorns, after all, had numerous players working out — including potential New England targets such as offensive tackle Samuel Cosmi, edge linebacker Joseph Ossai or defensive back Caden Sterns.
Peyton Ramsey, Northwestern: Ramsey should not count on getting drafted and also is a bit on the smaller side compared to the Patriots’ prototype, but the team still attended his Pro Day. Of Course, they could have just been there for projected first-round offensive lineman Rashawn Slater.
All in all, the Patriots have likely had a lot more contact with the quarterbacks in this class than just those meetings mentioned here. Still, what this list illustrates is that New England is taking a close look at the full range of talent in this group — from blue-chip prospects such as Lawrence and Fields, to the mid- and late-round options available as well.
One of them ending up with the Patriots when all is said and done would not be a surprise. The big questions are “Who?” and “At what cost?”