After the 2021 College Football Championship game between Ohio State and Alabama, the internet is ablaze with hype over Alabama quarterback Mac Jones, who could be available when the Patriots are on the board with the number 15 draft pick, but should they select a quarterback that early?
The last time the Patriots were seeking a quarterback with a top-16 first round pick, there were only 28 teams in the league. Bill Belichick was coach of the Cleveland Browns and nobody hated Juju Smith-Schuster. It’s a different era in 2021 though, clearly. Many New England Patriots fans are hoping they can find a new franchise quarterback by drafting a huge name at the number 15 slot.
However, there’s no guarantee that Coach Belichick decides to draft a quarterback in the first round at all. He may consider a wide receiver like Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle more valuable, or perhaps standout Florida tight end Kyle Pitts. His drafting methods are often hard to predict, especially since… they’re not great. What quarterbacks might the New England Patriots be looking at later on in the draft?
Number One: Jamie Newman, Georgia
Georgia quarterback Jamie Newman isn’t the easiest player to assess, especially since he never technically played quarterback for Georgia at all. Opting out of the 2020 season after transferring to Georgia from Wake Forest, NFL scouts have to evaluate him primarily based off of his 2019 season in the ACC.
What he did bring to the table that season was an impressive outing that left potential for a breakout year in 2020, if not for COVID. In 12 games, Newman used his arm to throw for 2,868 yards and 26 touchdowns. He used his legs to rush for 464 yards and 6 touchdowns. At 6’4″, he’s a great athlete who could possibly develop a skillset parallel to Deshaun Watson‘s. Maybe he could hate his team too.
Coach Belichick finally had some experience with a rushing quarterback in 2020, and if Newman can pass the ball as reliably as he runs it, McDaniels and Belichick can interchange Cam Newton-style play calls with Tom Brady-style play calls to really diversify their offense.
Many analysts have Newman pegged as a second-rounder. Though after opting out of last season, he could possibly be overlooked in favor of quarterbacks with more recent experience. We’ll see if New England bites on his second-round availability.
Number Two: Kyle Trask, Georgia
One of 2020’s best pure passing seasons came from Florida’s Kyle Trask. Trask threw for over 400 yards and had 5 touchdowns in the SEC Championship game against Alabama. He put up 4283 passing yards for the year with a 69-percent completion rate, filling a Drew Brees-shaped role. Oh, and he happened to score 43 touchdowns against just eight INTs.
It’s the comparisons to quarterbacks like Drew Brees, however, that actually weigh him down a little. With young stars like Kyler Murray, Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes, the best quarterbacks from the last several drafts have been agile and almost as fast as the receivers they throw to. Trask, however, is an old-fashioned pocket passer. He’s a great one, but he doesn’t have the dual-threat capabilities that the league seems to be eating up.
Fortunately, the Pats held one of the slowest men on earth at QB until last year, so accurate pocket passers are the bread and butter of most of New England’s playbook. Trask’s accuracy, decision-making, and natural passing talent make him (hypothetically) a worthy sequel to Tom Brady. Though, he may be off the board by the third round. So, if the Patriots don’t use their first round pick on a quarterback, they may only have one chance at him.
Number Three: Kellen Mond, Texas A&M
Were New England to wait until the third round to draft a quarterback, Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond may be the best acquisition. As a happy medium between Kyle Trask and Jamie Newman, Mond put up respectable numbers both rushing and passing in 2020.
In ten games, he threw for 2292 yards, 19 touchdowns and only 3 interceptions. On the ground, he ran for 294 yards and 4 touchdowns. He may not be a Lamar Jackson, but he has the mobility to breathe a little life into the Patriots offense. A touchdown-interception ratio of more than 6:1 is also the kind of ball security Belichick likes to see. If a player can be counted on as a dual threat without being turnover-prone, he’s instantly alluring as an NFL starter.
There are criticisms of his play that prevent him from being a likely second round pick, however. He’s inconsistent, having a couple ugly games last season against opponents (such as an 11-34 passing game against Louisiana State). Also, he’s generally not as accurate as other passers being drafted above him. With a tall, athletic frame and good speed Mond has potential to turn into a star under the right coach.
Some have compared him to a young Colin Kaepernick, or even what the Green Bay Packers pretend Jordan Love is. New England will likely have a couple shots at drafting him from rounds 2-4. We’ll see if they give him an opportunity.
Hey, maybe this is finally the year Belichick uses a high draft pick on a quarterback. If he doesn’t like the late round options, he can always try convincing Justin Fields or Zach Wilson to record a bong video.