Mac Jones may have slid to the Patriots in the draft, but that doesn’t mean they were the only team in that range that wanted him.
According to multiple reports, the New Orleans Saints tried to jump ahead of the Patriots in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft last Thursday. Per Jeff Howe of The Athletic, New Orleans began calling teams about trading up from the 28th pick after Jones fell past the Carolina Panthers at No. 8. Additionally, former Patriots assistant Mike Lombardi said on his podcast “The GM Shuffle” that the Saints eventually tried to move above the Pats in order to get Jones.
Lombardi also said that the Saints initially tried to trade into the top-10 for a top cornerback prospect, which is consistent with Jay Glazer’s draft-night report that New Orleans wanted to jump into that range for a non-QB. They then pivoted to Jones after he fell out of the top-10. But ultimately, they couldn’t make a deal with any of the four teams from 11-14. The Bears jumped to 11 for QB Justin Fields, the Cowboys stood pat for LB Micah Parsons, the Chargers stayed at 13 to take OT Rashawn Slater, and the Vikings found a better deal with the Jets for No. 14.
So, if all of these details are true, Jones fell perfectly into the Patriots’ lap. But based on another recent report by Albert Breer of The MMQB, if the Saints successfully jumped the Patriots to get Jones, then New England would have opted for Tulsa LB Zaven Collins (who went to the Cardinals one pick later at 16) then a quarterback in the second round, likely Stanford’s Davis Mills or Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond.
It’s always risky to trade away multiple future high draft picks just to move up and select one particular player. But as the Saints’ activity indicates, there’s also a level of risk in sitting there hoping for a guy to fall to your spot. But the sense is that the Patriots were comfortable with either of the two scenarios mentioned above.
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 email@example.com.