Drafted by the Cleveland Browns with the No. 1 overall pick on the first night of the 2018 NFL Draft last Thursday, Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield was the first player off the board.
But had the ultra-talented 23-year-old slipped out of that No. 1 spot and down the draft board ever so slightly, things would have become quite interesting, according to Mayfield's agent, Jack Mills.
Appearing on Andrew Brandt's podcast Tuesday, Mills claims that it was the Patriots that were lurking in the shadows, and with their sights set on trading up to the No. 2 overall pick had the Browns opted to go in a different direction.
“We had another team which is going to surprise you. Another team had said, ‘You may get a big surprise on Draft Day at No. 2, if he’s available.’ And it was the Patriots,” Mills offered in the interview. “[The Patriots] had No. 23 and they had No. 31 and they had two seconds [round draft picks]. We thought, ‘That’s gonna be a heck of a move, to get up that high from where they are.’ And of course he wasn’t available so we never knew if that was reality or not.”
Enamored with Mayfield but at least 20 spots away from realistically being able to draft him, the Patriots' attempts to interview the Heisman Trophy winner were considered pointless, and thus rejected by Mayfield's camp.
But according to Jeff Howe of The Athletic, it was when Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels convinced a member of Mayfield's camp that the Patriots were considering a massive trade-up scenario that Mayfield's camp agreed to a meeting a week before the NFL Draft. But with the New York Jets having an obvious interest in Mayfield at No. 3 if he was still there, a steep and just plain absurdly costly New England trade-up to grab the No. 2 overall pick from the Giants was perhaps the only way it would have worked for the Patriots; to move up 21 spots, it's believed that the Patriots likely would have had to part with two first-round picks, two second-round picks, a third-round pick, and perhaps even next season's first-round selection.
None of it truly mattered thanks to the Browns, though, so it remains a simple could-have-been.
With Mayfield off the board, the Patriots opted to completely steer away from a quarterback in round one, instead drafting an offensive lineman and running back with their two first-round picks. They did not draft a quarterback until Saturday, in fact, selecting LSU's Danny Etling with their first of two seventh-round selections, at No. 219 overall.