AP Photo/Stew Milne
New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick called the 2021 NFL draft quarterback class an “interesting group” in his conference call Thursday, via Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk.
Belichick gave his full perspective on the position:
The coach noted the challenges in evaluating players who saw very different schedules in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including some that didn’t have full seasons.
“When you look at the players at that position, I think you see a lot of differences in the 2020 season,” Belichick told reporters. “A lot of it is by conference, but there are some other circumstances as well. An interesting class.”
The Patriots currently hold the No. 15 pick in the first round of the draft.
Quarterback is certainly a need for the Patriots, who still have Cam Newton on top of the depth chart after an up-and-down 2020 season from the veteran. Newton had just eight touchdown passes with 10 interceptions in 15 games. With Jarrett Stidham getting limited snaps in his first two years, it’s clear the squad needs a long-term option at the position.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported the Patriots were among the top candidates to trade up in the first round for a quarterback.
Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson are widely projected to be taken with the first two picks of the draft, but there are other potential options that include Mac Jones, Justin Fields and Trey Lance. At least one or more could slide far enough for the Patriots to consider a move on draft day.
It was also a very different year for each of these players.
Jones put up huge numbers (4,500 passing yards, 41 touchdowns) across 13 games for Alabama on the way to a national championship. Fields led Ohio State to the title game, although he only played eight games. Lance was limited to just one game at North Dakota State before opting out of the rest of the season.
This was likely enough to create challenges during the evaluation process for New England and anyone else seeking quarterback help this offseason.