The New England Patriots need a quarterback, and that may be an understatement after they managed just 12 passing touchdowns with 14 interceptions last season. Despite bringing Cam Newton back for the 2021 season, New England is a strong candidate to trade up in the draft for one of the top five quarterbacks on the board.
New England has drafted a quarterback in the first round only twice since 1980 (Tony Eason in 1983 and Drew Bledsoe in 1993). If the Patriots are going to pull off selecting a signal caller again, head coach Bill Belichick isn't showing anyone his hand.
"There are players that, if you grade them on what they've done or what their production has been over the course of their career, you're not going to get that player if you see the player's upside and development and growth and you pay a much higher price for the player than what his production shows because you feel that in time, or experience or different system or whatever the combination of reasons are, that the player will perform above what his production was in college," Belichick said on a conference call Thursday. "Could be injury-related, could be, as I said, scheme-related, could be, just the physical development of the player. Those are always things that you talk about.
"You're obviously betting on the come there, you're betting on the player's development vs. what you might actually see from another player, but in some cases the upside might be greater and the downside might be greater, too. But at some point you decide to make that investment and then we all see how the player turns out. But that's fairly common at every position. There are always players at every spot that fall into that category that you feel like you're going to have to draft higher than what they've done. But if you're willing to do that and get the player, then you draft him at a higher spot and hope his production eventually reflects the potential that you saw."
If Belichick revealed anything, it's that if the Patriots see a quarterback they feel will be the franchise player for years, they won't be hesitant to move up and select him. The Patriots will have the opportunity to trade into the top 10, with the Detroit Lions, Carolina Panthers, and Dallas Cowboys candidates to move down. Pending on how the draft board plays out, the Patriots appear to be ready to pounce -- despite Belichick holding his poker face for as long as he can.
"It's an interesting class. It's an interesting group of guys," Belichick said. "Some are very strong in some skills. Some seem very strong in other skills. It's definitely an interesting group."