The New England Patriots are well aware that they need a long-term solution at quarterback; team owner Robert Kraft himself acknowledged this during a media conference call earlier this week. Coming off an aggressive free agency, they appear to be in a perfect position to go after one in the draft.
The question is, who will it be? And: Will the Patriots have to trade up to get their guy?
According to the latest two-round mock draft released by ESPN’s Todd McShay, the answers are “Justin Fields” and “yes.”
11. New England Patriots (via mock trade with NYG)
Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
Even after the Niners’ move up the board, it doesn’t appear Jimmy Garoppolo is in the cards this season for the Patriots. And while they brought back Cam Newton, the veteran is only signed for a year at $3.5 million guaranteed. The Pats haven’t spent a first-round pick on a QB since 1993 (Drew Bledsoe), but now is the time. Fields is accurate downfield and can develop into a top-tier starter for a team searching for stability at the position in the post-Tom Brady era.
McShay has the Patriots trade up from No. 15 to No. 12 to pick Ohio State’s Justin Fields. Arguably the second best quarterback in this draft class behind only presumptive number one overall pick Trevor Lawrence, Fields’ stock in media circles has taken a hit recently. He is pretty good, and New England should run to the podium if a chance presented itself to draft him.
In this particular scenario, Fields becomes the fifth quarterback off the board in Round One. After Lawrence goes first to the Jacksonville Jaguars, Zach Wilson (No. 2, New York Jets), Mac Jones (No. 3, San Francisco 49ers) and Trey Lance (No. 7, Carolina Panthers) get picked within the top-10 as well. New England trades its third-round pick this year as well as “either a second- or third-rounder” next spring to the Giants — a reasonable move to make.
Later in his mock, McShay also has the Patriots draft a cornerback:
46. New England Patriots
Elijah Molden, CB, Washington
Molden is a nickelback who would join Stephon Gilmore and J.C. Jackson to form an elite CB trio. He is excellent in zone defense and has good hands, hauling in five interceptions over his past 17 games.
With Gilmore and Jackson both currently headed for unrestricted free agency next offseason, New England might try to find some outside cornerback help. However, Molden would be a solid addition in the middle of the second round and could turn into a long-term replacement for slot cornerback Jonathan Jones.