With Matthew Stafford heading to Los Angeles, and Deshaun Watson unlikely to be moved to New England, the Patriots quarterback options for 2021 are quickly drying up. At the 15th overall pick, there is no clear cut quarterback that could be available. Either way, somebody is going to have to be under center next September. Here are some of the options.
Garoppolo may not be everyone’s favorite choice at quarterback for 2021, but he is the best of the realistic options. San Francisco clearly wants to upgrade the position, and with Kirk Cousins and Matt Ryan (two Kyle Shanahan heartthrobs) potentially becoming available, Garoppolo could be on the move. The only issue? Garoppolo is under contract, and the 49ers may end up keeping him if no other options present themselves. While Garoppolo’s injury history is a major red-flag, he is still just a year removed from being the starting quarterback in the Super Bowl. This could be a situation that drags itself out until late in the off-season.
SI’s Albert Breer reported that the Panthers offered the Number 8 overall pick in the draft to the Lions for Matthew Stafford. That tells us that they clearly have doubts about Bridgewater and that he’s on the block. Bridgewater is a game manager, but he also has decent mobility and play-making ability. He isn’t going to carry an offense, but if the Patriots add a couple of legit offensive pieces and continue to run the ball well, Bridgewater could lead them to double-digit wins.
Coming off a life-threatening leg injury, Smith was respectable in 2020 despite playing in front of a brutal offensive line. In the win against Pittsburgh in Week 13, Smith looked like his former self, throwing for nearly 300 yards and 1 touchdown. Unfortunately, the leg injury has diminished Smith’s mobility, which takes away a significant factor in his skill set. While it isn’t a given that Smith will give it another go in 2021, all signs point to him suiting up once again. It would be too much to simply give him the job outright, however, the combination of trading up for a quarterback and bringing Smith in may be appealing to Bill Belichick.
Fields is projected to go anywhere from 2nd to 15th in the draft, and with good reason. Fields was not very impressive in the regular season despite a historic college football playoff. Even though he has his shortcomings, I’d be shocked if he made it past the top ten. The Patriots would need to move significant draft capital to trade up for Fields, but he may be just the guy to splurge for.
Lance played just one game in 2020 due to COVID-19 and frankly did not look great. Despite that, his performance in the past two years at North Dakota State has warranted him as a clear cut early first round pick. Lance is not as polished as Carson Wentz was coming out of North Dakota State, so he will in all likelihood sit for at least the start of the regular season. He is projected to go in the back of the top 10 or early teens, so the Patriots would need to move a package of Day 2 draft picks to acquire him. Lance very well may be the next do-it-all QB. He can make every throw on the field and is an extremely gifted runner. He reminds me a lot of Deshaun Watson when I watch his college tape. If I were Belichick, I would do whatever it takes to land him.
Jones is an often discussed figure in the NFL Draft community. Was he merely a product of elite talent, or is he a legit starting NFL quarterback? History would tell us that he is more likely a byproduct of numerous first-round picks around him, with A.J. McCarron, Greg McElroy, and Tua Tagovailoa (for now) lacking in the NFL success department. Jones will be available at 15, but that may be too early to take him. If the Patriots end up trading back into the back half of the draft or early in the second round, that may be the sweet spot for Jones.