If the New England Patriots are looking to grab one of the Top-5 QB prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft, they will need to trade up from their No. 15 spot. A trade partner may have materialized.
According to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, the Atlanta Falcons, who have the No. 4 pick in the draft, have had some exploratory conversations about trading down. Breer broke down the details.
The first three picks are spoken for. And that leaves the Falcons as a team to watch—one that’s going to have to make a decision on its pick with some complicated finances at quarterback (due to all Matt Ryan’s restructures), and a team in need of cheaper young talent with which to surround its core. My guess has been that the Falcons will stick at No. 4 and take a quarterback, because I don’t think they want to count on picking that high again and this happens to be a really strong year at the position. But I do know they’re open to the idea of trading the pick and have had exploratory talks with other teams on a deal that would have someone else moving up to No. 4.
Obtaining the No. 4 pick would ensure the Patriots get a shot at one of the Top-5 QBs, who are seemingly ranked differently depending on who you ask. Still, the group includes BYU’s Zach Wilson, Ohio State’s Justin Fields, Alabama’s Mac Jones, and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance.
We don’t know how the Patriots have those prospects ranked on their board, but you’d like to think any of the four would represent a decent option as a quarterback of the future.
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Two More Potential Trade-Up Opportunities
In addition to the Falcons as a potential trade partner for the Patriots, should the latter look to move up in the draft, Breer also identified the Detroit Lions, Cincinnati Bengals, and Miami Dolphins as possible suitors.
And Detroit’s another team I’ve been told to keep an eye on—since they can give other teams an opportunity to jump Carolina and Denver in the quarterback line (though that’d more likely be a draft-day deal, since you can’t totally be sure who’ll be there at No. 7 right now). I’m told they’ve got a cluster of players ID’d they’d be good with at seven, but are open to doing a deal to move down as well. What about Cincinnati and Miami? The former’s been conservative in moving first-rounders over the last 25 years, and will likely have its pick of a top target (Kyle Pitts/Ja’Marr Chase) or a bodyguard for Joe Burrow at No. 5; and the latter went through a lot to stay in the top six within the context of its trade with San Francisco (though it’s hard to rule moves out with Chris Grier pulling the trigger for the Dolphins).
As Breer noted, if the Patriots traded with the Lions at No. 7, the Bengals at No. 5, or the Dolphins at No. 6, we’re likely talking a draft-day move. While the Bengals would ensure them a Top-5 pick, and a shot at Wilson, Fields, Jones, or Lance, the Patriots are probably only going to send a boatload of draft assets if they can get the guy at the top of their QB board. New England won’t know if that guy will be there until the draft is underway on April 29.
The same goes for the Dolphins and Lions’ picks, but there would be even more hesitancy considering all of the most highly regarded QBs could be gone by the time those selections come up.
Trading Down or Staying Put Could Work Too
Fans who have their hearts set on the Patriots grabbing one of the top QBs may not want to hear this, but Bill Belichick may elect to sit tight at No. 15 or even trade back to add more draft assets.
The Patriots need a CB, and you could make an argument for an offensive tackle or a field-stretching wide receiver. New England would have an excellent opportunity to get a solid prospect at any of those positions if they stay put at No. 15.
This approach would also allow New England to draft a quarterback that may have flown under the radar like Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond, Stanford’s Davis Mills, or Georgia’s Jamie Newman.
The Patriots could work a similar strategy if they trade back to add more picks, but you’d think they’d like to keep a second-round selection, at the very least.
The guessing ends on April 29 when the Jacksonville Jaguars are on the clock and presumably making Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence the No. 1 overall pick.
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