Getty Justin Fields
Most New England Patriots fans would love to see the team grab one of the top quarterbacks in the 2021 NFL Draft. Unfortunately, the Patriots won’t pick until No. 15 in the draft order, and by most expert assessments, that will be too late to get one of this year’s signal-callers who projects to be an elite pro.
However, there is one very respected NFL draft prognosticator who has the Patriots getting Ohio State Buckeyes star Justin Fields at No. 15. It sounds crazy, but once you see his explanation, it makes a little more sense.
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McShay’s No-Trade Ups Mock
ESPN’s Todd McShay’s mock draft doesn’t include any trades, so teams that might be looking to leapfrog others to get into a position to draft one of the top quarterbacks aren’t accounted for in this mock. With that understanding, here’s how McShay rationalizes Fields falling to the Patriots at No. 15.
OK, it’s time. And what a terrific outcome this would be for coach Bill Belichick. Fields fell to No. 15 here because we aren’t doing trades in this mock. There’s little chance he makes it this far down the board, especially after his six-touchdown performance in the Sugar Bowl quieted some big-game concerns. Someone will move up to get him. But what a nice fit Fields makes in New England. The Patriots tied the Giants for the fewest passing touchdowns in the NFL this season with 12, and New England joined the Broncos as the only teams with more interceptions thrown than TDs (14). Cam Newton, who was largely ineffective this season, will turn 32 in May and is set to be a free agent again. Jarrett Stidham doesn’t appear to be the guy, either. Tom Brady is no longer walking through that door, and it’s a different era for the Patriots’ passing offense. Fields would change that, with plenty of zip on his vertical shots and an ability to create when things break down.
Let’s be honest, there are a lot of things that need to happen before the Patriots could be fortunate enough to land Fields. However, of the guys who are considered Top-10 locks, Fields might be the most likely to slip.
If a QB Drops, Could it Be Fields?
Fields is fresh off a 6-TD-pass performance in the College Football Playoff semifinal against the Clemson Tigers. He will lead his team into a battle for the national championship against the Alabama Crimson Tide on Monday, January 11.
If Fields shines again, his stock could go even higher and he might just shut the door on BYU’s Zach Wilson. Some would argue Wilson has surpassed Fields in the QB rankings, but if Fields lights up Bama, who could continue to justify that concept?
On the flip side, if Bama feasts on Fields, it could do some real damage to his stock. Bama has what is widely regarded as the closest thing to an NFL defense that a college quarterback will face. If he struggles in this game–depending on how badly–general managers could lose faith in his ability to be a franchise quarterback.
Fair assessment or not, if that happens, Fields could drop, but I’m not certain it could be as low as No.15.