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INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - DECEMBER 07: Justin Fields #1 of the Ohio State Buckeyes runs with the ball in the BIG Ten Football Championship Game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 07, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

ESPN’s Mel Kiper has released his newest 2021 NFL mock draft. And he has the Patriots trading up for a quarterback – again.

It’s not the first time that a Mel Kiper mock draft pegged the Patriots to nab one of the top-5 quarterback prospects in the 2021 draft. Kiper previously had the Patriots selecting Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields after he fell all the way to the 15th pick. This time, Kiper has the Pats moving up five spots to take Fields 10th overall after trading with the Dallas Cowboys.

We’ve been over how risky it is for teams to package multiple first and second-round picks in order to move all the way into the top 3-4 picks in the draft. But the San Francisco 49ers did it anyway when they rocketed to No. 3, and there’s a chance that a team moves up to acquire the fourth overall pick from the Atlanta Falcons.

The Patriots, however? Don’t count on Bill Belichick putting too many eggs in one basket. So if he ends up drafting a quarterback in the first round, it’s likely that their pick slid more than expected. It’s much more palatable to move from 15th to 10th than from 15th to 4th or higher. Based on the NFL’s unofficial draft trade value chart, the Patriots would have more than enough move up from 15th to 10th if they send picks 46 and 139 to Dallas for picks 75 and 192.

So while such a trade would leave the Patriots with an additional third-round pick instead of a second-rounder, they’d land Fields and tacitly announce him as their choice to start at QB as soon as he’s ready. Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is expected to attend Fields’ second Pro Day on Wednesday.

Although it’s a virtual lock that three QBs will go in the top-3 picks in the 2021 draft, it’s unclear who the Niners intend to select after Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence and BYU’s Zach Wilson likely come off the board 1-2. Alabama’s Mac Jones and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance round out the five best prospects at the position.

If one of them falls to the 10-15 range, that would make for a very interesting decision for Belichick. Does he stay at 15 and go defense, like he did in the newest Sports Hub NFL Mock Draft? Or if Fields, Lance or Jones slip into an acceptable price range for a trade-up, does he pull the trigger?

As exciting as that would be for the Patriots and their future outlook, it’s still more likely they opt for one of the QB prospects in the next tier, and avoid paying multiple high picks for a player they may consider to be closer to the rest of the pack than their draft stock indicates. So here’s a list of quarterback prospects for days 2-3 that could also become Patriots in 2021.

MORE: Josh McDaniels At Justin Fields Pro Day

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.