Top NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has released his first NFL mock draft for the 2021 class at ESPN.com, and much like his colleague Todd McShay, he has the New England Patriots selecting a quarterback with the 15th pick in the first round.
Kiper pegs Alabama QB Mac Jones as the pick for Bill Belichick and the Pats. McShay had the Patriots selecting Ohio State QB Justin Fields, but with the caveat that the mock draft didn’t include trades and that it’s more likely a team trades up to get him before he falls to No. 15.
Jones has consistently projected a tier below Fields and Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence in draft analysis. BYU’s Zach Wilson and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance remain prospects with higher stocks heading into Kiper’s first mock draft. Kiper has all four going in the top-10.
Kiper’s quick-hit analysis on Jones certainly makes him sound like a Patriots kind of prospect:
Jones can make every throw at every level of the field, and he’s extremely accurate. Plus, we know that Belichick has drafted plenty of Alabama stars and trusts Nick Saban.
Kiper also expects Jones to impress at this week’s Senior Bowl. Recent draft history suggests that there’s a good chance a future Patriot is involved in that event.
Belichick has drafted at least one player out of Alabama in four out of the last six drafts. But drafting a quarterback out of Alabama in the first round would be a different kind of move for the Patriots. Considering the Patriots’ uncertainty at the position, expect many more mock drafts to have QBs landing in Foxboro.