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Todd McShay’s final mock draft has the Patriots pick a quarterback in the first round

Related: Can the Patriots afford to wait for a late-round quarterback?

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl Practice Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

With the NFL’s 2021 draft a mere hours away, ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay published his final mock simulation of the season. In this one, the New England Patriots stay put and still go their potential quarterback of the future — Alabama’s Mac Jones:

Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

Because the Niners opted to go with Lance, the Patriots get lucky in this scenario, not having to move up and still landing one of the top five quarterbacks. Jones is an anticipatory passer with excellent accuracy; coach Bill Belichick would help him develop into a good NFL starter.

Jones is the fifth passer off the board. With Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson going 1-2 to the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets, as expected, and with the San Francisco 49ers adding Trey Lance at No. 3, two passers drop out of the top-five and into the Patriots’ potential range. But while Justin Fields comes off the board at No. 9 to the Denver Broncos, New England can afford to stay put and still get its guy.

Jones and the Patriots have been a popular match in mock draft cycles this year, given the team’s need for a long-term quarterback solution and his abilities as a rhythm pocket passer.