Mel Kiper Jr. gave his approval to the New England Patriots on Friday.
The Patriots on Thursday night held their own in the first round and selected Alabama quarterback Mac Jones with the 15th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. That led Kiper to include New England among his ” winners ”of the first round in an article since published on ESPN.com.
Why? Well, not only is the pick good value for the Patriots. The ESPN NFL Draft Expert also believes Jones has many of the same traits that have allowed Tom Brady to thrive in New England for so long.
“And so I love this cut, and Bill Belichick & Co. didn’t have to trade to get Jones,” Kiper wrote. “Considering that the buzz the last few weeks has been around San Francisco’s interest in Jones, I really didn’t think he would arrive in the middle of round 1. He’s going to compete with Cam Newton and Jarrett Stidham (who all have two played at his rival Auburn) for the QB1 position now, and I think he has a chance to play early. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels will train him hard. Now can the Patriots improve on the pass catcher on Day 2? Their next choice is # 46. ”
Three quarterbacks were selected to start the draft: Trevor Lawrence at the Jacksonville Jaguars, Zach Wilson at the New York Jets and Trey Lance at the San Francisco 49ers. After that, another quarter didn’t go until the Chicago Bears went from No.20 to No.11 to pick Ohio State star Justin Fields.
Jones was the fifth caller on the board, landing with New England despite a ton of pre-draft speculation over whether Bill Belichick would need to trade to nab his future franchise quarterback. And the Patriots have since received serious praise, to which Kiper added as he took stock of the first round.
Belichick said in explaining the decision to draft Jones that Cam Newton remained New England quarterback. We’ll see how long it takes for that to change as the Patriots look to bounce back in 2021 after a disappointing 2020 in which they posted a 7-9 record and missed the playoffs.