Patriots Expected to Trade Up for ‘Final Piece to the Puzzle’

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The New England Patriots have already made a huge splash in free agency. Several NFL draft experts believe Bill Belichick has more in store once the NFL Draft rolls around on April 29.

On the NFL’s Move the Sticks podcast, Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks discussed the Patriots’ offseason activity. The Patriots signed Cam Newton to a one-year deal, but he isn’t viewed as the team’s long-term solution at the position.

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Jeremiah and Brooks talked about how Belichick might approach the sport’s most important position in the future. The two draft experts were on the same page.

They believe there is a good chance the Patriots attempt to trade up from their No. 15 spot in the first round into the Top 10, where their attention is likely to fall on Ohio State’s Justin Fields or North Dakota State’s Trey Lance.

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The Young and Athletic QB

During the broadcast, Brooks told Jeremiah:

We saw them completely rebuild the roster with the number of signings and free agency. I believe they’re about to go all-in on an offensive makeover. The young quarterback is the final piece to the puzzle. And I think that quarterback will be an athletic quarterback.

While neither Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence or BYU’s Zach Wilson are considered sub-par athletes, they aren’t on the same level as Fields and Lance when it comes to pure athleticism and making plays with their legs.

Jeremiah specifically mentioned Lance and Fields. He said:

I keep an eye on somebody like Trey Lance or Justin Fields. Those are the two that would make sense for them to target. Hear a lot of rumors out there that they are really high on Justin Fields out of Ohio State. So, they’d have to (trade up) quite a ways to get Justin Fields.

The Feels for Fields

If you take a look at mock drafts, Fields’ stock has been on the rise. Some mocks, such as Dalton Miller of The Pro Football Network and Emory Hunt of CBS Sports, have Fields going No. 2 to the New York Jets.

If this is where he’s slated to go next month, it will make it very difficult for the Patriots to move from No. 15 and to No. 2. The Jets may have their heart set on Fields and plans to move on from Sam Darnold. If that’s the case, pursuing Lance (whom the Patriots sent representatives to watch at his Pro Day) may be the more practical option.

They have similar skill sets but have some important differences. Fields has experience playing in a major conference and on the grandest stage in college football. Lance didn’t play in 2020 because his season was canceled due to COVID-9 restrictions. Thus, he’s only played one full season as a starter, and that was in 2019. 

He also played his college games in the Missouri Valley Conference, where competition isn’t quite as stiff as it is in the Big Ten, SEC, ACC, and others. 

Because of these differences, many may view Fields as the more attractive choice. That said, if the Patriots come away with either guy as a backup and mentee to Newton, they will have positioned themselves to be competitive in 2021 and potentially set at quarterback for several seasons after.


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