Expert Believes Top QB Prospect Will Slip to Patriots at No. 15

Getty Justin Fields

It’s no secret, the New England Patriots are on the hunt for a quarterback. There have been rumors linking them to an interest in Matthew Stafford before he was traded from the Detroit Lions to the Los Angeles Rams, and to the Philadelphia Eagles’ Carson Wentz, who is reportedly headed from the City of Brotherly Love elsewhere.

Had, or if the Patriots are able to acquire a player like Stafford or Wentz, that acquisition would have represented an immediate option at quarterback for the team that is still looking to replace Tom Brady. According to NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein, Ohio State’s superstar quarterback Justin Fields, who was at one point considered a lock to go No. 2 in the draft, will slip to the Patriots at No. 15.

Here is a look at Zierlein’s Top 15 picks, and his explanation for mocking Fields to the Patriots.

  1. Jacksonville – QB, Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
  2. NY Jets – QB, Zach Wilson, BYU
  3. Miami – WR, Devonta Smith, Alabama
  4. Atlanta – CB, Patrick Surtain II, Alabama
  5. Cincinnati – TE, Kyle Pitts, Florida
  6. Philadelphia – LB, Micah Parsons, Penn State
  7. Detroit – WR, Ja’Marr Chase, LSU
  8. Carolina – OT, Rashawn Slater, Northwestern
  9. Denver – CB, Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech
  10. Dallas – OT, Penei Sewell, Oregon
  11. NY Giants – WR, Jaylen Waddle, Alabama
  12. San Francisco – QB, Trey Lance, North Dakota State
  13. L.A. Chargers – OT, Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech
  14. Minnesota – OT, Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC
  15. New England – QB, Justin Fields, Ohio State

It’s hard to project where the QBs will land this year, as I expect grades to vary greatly by team. But Fields is a talented quarterback with big-game experience who will have a chance to compete for snaps immediately in New England.

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How Did Fields Slip?

I’d predicted Fields would likely be jumped by BYU’s Wilson by the time the draft rolled around. BYU was playing every week while Fields and Ohio State weren’t due to COVID issues. The inactivity may have cooled some of Fields’ hype.

Meanwhile, Wilson was clearly becoming the darling of the college football circuit with his strong arm and moxie. I’ve seen enough college football seasons and draft build-up not to know the trend.

While that was somewhat predictable, it’s a little more surprising to see Fields leapfrogged by a small-school prospect like Lance. While I love what Lance seems to bring to the football field, his team didn’t play at all in 2020, and he hails from such a small program, there should be some concern about how his game will transfer. However, judging by Zierlein’s mock, there may not be such trepidation.

That leaves us with Fields at No. 15, and that’s assuming no other team jumps up in the draft for the right to draft him ahead of the Patriots. Let’s not forget, in 8 games, Fields led the Buckeyes to an undefeated regular season, a Big Ten title, and a berth in the National Championship against Alabama.

He threw for 2,100 yards, 22 TDs, and 6 INTS while completing 70% of his passes. Fields also ran for 383 yards and 5 TDs. Surely, he has his share of fans on the NFL level.


What About Mac Jones?

Many mocks that were released prior to Zierlein’s had the Patriots taking Alabama product Mac Jones. After Jones shined at the Senior Bowl last month, it seemed even more likely the Patriots might be interested. They may be, as this mock is just the point of view of a man who covers the league. He isn’t a part of the Patriots’ decision-making group.

However, it is noteworthy to see a prospect of Fields’ caliber projected to be on the board on any expert’s mock draft when the Patriots have their first selection.

 

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