2021 NFL Mock Draft: Patriots trade up for QB in ESPN's new projections

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Nick Goss
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2021 NFL Mock Draft: Pats trade up for QB in ESPN's new projections originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The 2021 NFL Draft is a little more than a week away, and all eyes are on the five quarterbacks expected to be selected in the first round. 

The New England Patriots are among the teams in need of a quarterback, but they don't pick until No. 15 overall in Round 1, and it's unlikely that any of those five QBs will be available at that point.

The solution would be to trade up, and one potential trade partner is the Detroit Lions, who own the No. 7 pick. The Lions recently acquired quarterback Jared Goff in a trade with the Los Angeles Rams that sent Matthew Stafford to L.A. Detroit doesn't need to take a QB in the first round with Goff in the fold.

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In ESPN's new 2021 NFL Mock Draft published Tuesday, experts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay alternated picks for the first three rounds. Kiper had the No. 7 pick and projected the Patriots to acquire it from the Lions and select Alabama quarterback Mac Jones.

Here is Kiper's explanation for the trade

"We needed a trade for a quarterback -- they happen every year -- so I'm going to make one with myself since I'm the general manager of the odd-numbered teams. This deal sees the Patriots jump eight spots to get their guy, while the Lions add the Patriots' second-round pick (No. 46), plus future selections, maybe even their first-rounder in next year's draft. It's a lot to give up, but Bill Belichick & Co. need a long-term solution at the game's most important position."

2021 NFL Draft Highlights: Mac Jones

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Jones led Alabama to a College Football Playoff National Championship last season. He completed 77.4 percent of his passes for 4,500 yards with 41 touchdowns and just four interceptions. 

The Patriots, led by head coach Bill Belichick, watched Jones throw at his Pro Day in Alabama last month. Jones' stock has skyrocketed since the beginning of the season, and based on all the mock drafts that have been produced over the last couple months, it would be surprising if he fell outside the top 10.

The real question is whether the Patriots will be willing to pay the high price required to move up. But with 10 picks in this draft, the Patriots have plenty of ammo to make deals.