There are certain qualities the New England Patriots have notoriously looked for during the rare times they have sought a quarterback over the past 20 years. With Tom Brady at the helm the vast majority of the time, the Patriots’ pursuit of a quarterback has almost always been exploratory and never out of pure urgency.
Things have changed, and now the Patriots desperately need to find their QB of the future. Based on that necessity, New England figures to have their sights set on one of the top prospects at the position in the 2021 NFL Draft.
One, in particular, is said to possess the “must-have” qualities to appeal to the Patriots.
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Mac Jones’ Must-Have Qualities
Alabama’s Mac Jones is being mentioned more lately as a realistic option for the Patriots in the first round at No. 15. Obviously, the Patriots could still trade up to get one of the more highly regarded QB prospects in the draft, or they could trust in the Patriots-Alabama pipeline and take Jones, should he still be on the board at No. 15 as expected.
ESPN’s Mike Reiss wrote about that scenario and quoted his colleague and draft expert Todd McShay’s take on Jones. According to McShay, Jones possesses some distinct qualities that Reiss called “must-haves” for the Patriots.
A more likely scenario for the Patriots, and equally as compelling in some cases, is Alabama quarterback Mac Jones at No. 15 (or in a minor trade down). McShay described him as “super intelligent,” with “pocket presence” and someone who “feels things, anticipates, and gets the ball out.” Those have traditionally been high on the Patriots’ list of “must-haves” when evaluating quarterbacks.
Alabama QB’s Haven’t Been Great in the NFL
As I’ve written before, the recent history of Alabama quarterbacks in the NFL hasn’t been good. Traditionally, Bama quarterbacks are surrounded with so much talent on the offensive end and supported by dominant O-lines and defenses. They often post inflated statistics while riding the wave of impressive win-loss records powered by their teammates more than engineered by their own talents.
There is a legitimate concern that Jones could be the latest in the string.
The Other Options
Perhaps the most intriguing QB prospect in the draft is North Dakota State’s Trey Lance. The uber-athletic quarterback shows some shades of Russell Wilson and a glimpse of prime Cam Newton with his physicality.
However, he does come from a smaller program (the same one that produced Carson Wentz) so there is a concern about the level of competition he faced in college. Also, Lance didn’t play in 2020 because the Missouri Valley Football Conference wasn’t active due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Mix in the concerns about competition, somewhat limited tape, and the still-restricted Combine and Pro Day access ahead for the NFL and Lance could be the biggest mystery in the draft. It remains to be seen if the Patriots feel comfortable enough to perhaps trade up a few spots to take the talented young signal-caller.
Among the quarterbacks who figure to be in a reasonable range, Lance is a guy I’d take in a heartbeat ahead of Jones.
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