The New England Patriots are the current betting favorites to land Justin Fields in the first round of the draft. While they would likely have to trade up to get the Ohio State quarterback on board, the oddsmakers feel confident in the team’s ability to maneuver around and eventually end up with the highly-rated passer.
While that seems like a realistic outcome, especially following New England’s aggressive free agency spending spree in March, one former NFL executive and long-time Bill Belichick confidante does not see it happen. Michael Lombardi, who worked for the organization from 2014 to 2016 and also served under Bill Belichick from 1991 to 1995 at the Cleveland Browns, explained why on VSiN live on Wednesday.
“I don’t think New England’s trading up to get Justin Fields,” Lombardi said. “I don’t see that. If you watch his throwing motion and you watch Tom Brady throw, they’re two different throwing motions. I don’t think they’re ever merging together.”
This is not the first time that Lombardi expressed his doubts about the Patriots landing Fields via trade. Just earlier this month, he shared the same opinion on his The GM Shuffle podcast.
“Do they like Justin Fields? I don’t think so. Do they like Trey Lance? I’m not sure, I don’t know,” he said back then. “Just knowing how they operate, I couldn’t imagine they could get either one of Lance and Fields to a high enough point to justify trading up to get them.”
Back then, Lombardi said that there would be a difference between what talent evaluators think about prospects and how they think about them. This means that there could be a noticeable difference in grading within the Patriots organization and the media consensus in regards to Fields, Lance and other quarterbacks.
“If all you do is say, ‘He’s a first-rounder’ or ‘He’s a second-rounder’ then what are we saying? That doesn’t say anything!” Lombardi noted. “Descriptions tell you what he is, and that’s why it’s hard for me to see them drafting quarterbacks like Fields or Lance or even some of these other guys early because they can’t fit the description that justifies trading for them.”
Lombardi has plenty of experience working alongside Belichick, so his statements certainly are worth paying attention — not because they predict what New England will ultimately do, but rather because they might give some insight into the team’s thought process behind making its decision come draft day.