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ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 26: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announces a pick by the New England Patriots during the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium on April 26, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

There’s promising news for those who want the Patriots to land one of the top quarterback prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft.

According to Jeff Howe of The Athletic, the Patriots are “heavily scouting” all the quarterback prospects expected to go early in the 2021 draft. Howe explains in great detail why the Patriots are doing this, and it’s not necessarily because they’re definitely going to take a QB. Oftentimes, they simply want to do their due diligence on every QB whether they draft them or not, if only to scout him as a future opponent. For example, they know they’re not getting Trevor Lawrence – but they are getting the Jacksonville Jaguars on their 2021 schedule.

But what if the Patriots really do want one of the top QB prospects? There’s a good chance they have to trade up if they want BYU’s Zach Wilson, Ohio State’s Justin Fields, or North Dakota State’s Trey Lance. Even Alabama’s Mac Jones could draw enough interest to go before the Patriots pick at No. 15 overall.

Bill Belichick isn’t moving up for one of these guys unless he knows enough to peg them as the Patriots’ long-term answer at quarterback. And you’d have to give him a better chance of being right about such a move than, say, the Bears were when they traded up in the 2017 draft to take Mitchell Trubisky with Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson available.

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - JANUARY 11: Mac Jones #10 of the Alabama Crimson Tide warms up prior the College Football Playoff National Championship game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Hard Rock Stadium on January 11, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA – JANUARY 11: Mac Jones #10 of the Alabama Crimson Tide warms up prior the College Football Playoff National Championship game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Hard Rock Stadium on January 11, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

This isn’t the first time that the Patriots have been reported to be in on the top quarterbacks in the draft, only for them to do things like drafting Sony Michel over Lamar Jackson or taking Danny Etling in the seventh round. That doesn’t mean the reports aren’t true. It just doesn’t exactly indicate how interested they are in making one of these prospects their own.

But if they don’t identify their guy in 2021, when will they? If Belichick lands a more established bridge quarterback who can buy him a year, perhaps you could wrap your head around the Patriots skipping the 2021 class. But the team’s relative neglect of the most important position in the game is what led them to this point in the first place.

So maybe Belichick feels it’s finally time to take the plunge with a quarterback in the draft – early. These guys aren’t all going to suck. But if the Patriots don’t find their next starting quarterback in a hurry, there’s a chance the team does.

MORE: Alex Barth’s Patriots Mock Draft 1.0

MORE: Quarterback Options For 2021 Patriots

MORE: Patriots Trade Up For QB In Kiper’s Mock Draft

Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @mattydsays. You can also email him at mdolloff@985thesportshub.com.