2021 NFL Mock Draft: Patriots land Justin Fields at No. 4 after huge trade

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NFL mock draft has Patriots making huge trade for Fields at No. 4 originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Should the New England Patriots swing for the fences in the 2021 NFL Draft?

That's a topic of much debate: With as many as five quarterbacks projected as potential top-10 picks, the Patriots must decide whether they want to trade up from No. 15 to take their "QB of the future" or find a more economical option to compete with Cam Newton in camp this summer.

There's a new wrinkle in that debate, too, as the Atlanta Falcons reportedly are open to trading the No. 4 pick to a team eyeing a top QB.

Next Pats Podcast: How the Sam Darnold trade could impact the Patriots’ draft plans | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

What might it cost to do business with Atlanta, you ask? NFL.com's Peter Schrager laid out a potential trade in a new NFL mock draft Thursday -- and it involves the Patriots.

Here's the hypothetical trade, which has New England jumping up to No. 4 to draft Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields:

Patriots receive: Falcons' 2021 first-round pick (No. 4)

Falcons receive: Patriots' 2021 first-round pick (No. 15), 2021 second-round pick (No. 46), 2022 first-round pick, 2022 third-round pick

That's quite a hefty price tag -- and one that may be too rich for New England's blood, as our Tom E. Curran recently pointed out.

But if the Patriots are dead-set on Fields, they may have to trade up to No. 4 to get him. If Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson go No. 1 and No. 2 and the San Francisco 49ers select Mac Jones at No. 3 (as has been speculated), then Fields could be the best QB available at No. 4.

Curran: Ex-Pats exec can't see team trading up for these two QBs

If New England doesn't deal with the Falcons, it's likely a QB-needy team does to draft the talented quarterback and leave the Patriots with slim pickings at No. 15 (assuming Trey Lance goes in the top 15).

Bill Belichick's track record suggests he's not keen on giving up four draft picks to take a QB, but he's already bucked convention this offseason by spending big in free agency, so a trade into the top 10 isn't off the table.

Just don't be too surprised if Belichick goes the other way and trades out of the first round before drafting a QB you've never heard of on Day 3.