New England Patriots

GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 28: Kyle Trask #11 of the Florida Gators throws a pass during the second quarter against the Towson Tigers at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 28, 2019 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

There are as many as five highly touted quarterbacks who should be taken in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. But what about the next five?

It’s important for followers of quarterback-needy teams in to know the second tier of quarterback prospects, in addition to the first. The Patriots are certainly one of the most QB-starved teams in the National Football League, and at the same time their No. 15 overall pick may be just out of reach to land one of the top-5 prospects.

At the same time, it’s unlikely that Bill Belichick would trade way up in the first round to draft one of the bigger names at quarterback. And there’s virtually zero chance he’d be able to get Trevor Lawrence or Zach Wilson, who are commonly projected to go 1-2 to the Jaguars and Jets. So unless Belichick truly believes Justin Fields, Trey Lance, or Mac Jones is without question his guy for the next decade, don’t expect the Patriots to be that aggressive.

Philosophically, it’s much more likely Belichick views quarterback similarly to he does any other position, with a focus on value and his ability to get the most out of a player as a coach. The odds are far greater that Belichick would look at the second tier of QB prospects and believe he can get the same, if not better production out of them than one of the higher-rated guys.

This philosophy is what landed Belichick on Jimmy Garoppolo at the 62nd pick in the 2014 draft, while bigger-name prospects Blake Bortles (3rd), Johnny Manziel (22nd), and Teddy Bridgewater (32nd) were all overdrafted, and Derek Carr went 36th to the Raiders. Garoppolo is the only player on this list to have played in a Super Bowl, and was a clear fit in his first stint with the Patriots.

For these reasons, do not be surprised if Belichick passes on the top tier of QBs in the first round, in favor of help on defense or on the offensive line. And then there’s a good chance he’d have his pick of the guy he wants when the Pats select again at 47th. Belichick is always good for a surprise, so maybe this is the year he actually does trade up. But standing pat is a safer bet.

Of course, there’s a reason that all the quarterbacks on this list are considered Day 2 picks (rounds 2-3) at best. And a couple of them may not even go until Day 3. They are all imperfect prospects, whether it be physical limitations or a lack of experience. So ideally, the Patriots wouldn’t have to play their pick until his second season at the earliest. But most of them will for sure be available in the second or third round if Belichick wants to take his guy at that spot.

Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Russell Wilson, and Dak Prescott are proof that franchise quarterbacks can still be found in the second round or later. So while Belichick would be getting a less NFL-ready prospect who needs more time than others to develop, don’t rule out that he unearths a gem of a talent.

MORE: Barth’s Patriots Mock Draft 1.0

MORE: Patriots trade up for QB in Mel Kiper’s first 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.