2021 NFL Mock Draft roundup: Patriots first-round pick projections

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Nick Goss
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2021 NFL Mock Draft roundup for Patriots' first-round pick originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

It's difficult to predict what the New England Patriots will do in the 2021 NFL Draft.

They have the No. 15 overall pick in the first round -- their highest selection since 2008 -- but that's probably not high enough to select one of the top five quarterback prospects in this year's class.

If the Patriots want one of those QBs, they probably will need to trade up. Many 2021 NFL Mock Draft projections have the Pats taking a quarterback and nearly all of them include New England trading up to get that player. 

The most common quarterback projected to the Patriots in mock drafts is Ohio State's Justin Fields. He helped lead the Buckeyes to the College Football Playoff National Championship Game with an impressive dual-threat skill set. The Patriots had multiple people at his Pro Day in Columbus earlier this month, including offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

2021 NFL Draft Highlights: Justin Fields

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Defense also could be the play for the Patriots in Round 1. With five quarterbacks likely to be selected in the top 10 or 12 picks, it's very possible that a couple elite level defensive prospects could slide to the Patriots at No. 15 overall. Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons is a popular pick to the Pats in mock drafts. 

Here's a roundup of expert predictions for the Patriots' first-round pick from recent 2021 NFL Mock Drafts. 

Phil Perry, NBC Sports Boston: Kwity Paye, DE, Michigan

Mark Inabinett, AL.com: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama (trade with Giants to No. 11)

Danny Kelly, The Ringer: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State (trade with Lions to No. 7)

Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

Luke Easterling, Draft Wire: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State (trade with Falcons to No. 4)

Peter Schrager, NFL.com: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama (trade with Eagles to No. 12)

Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State (trade with Cowboys to No. 10)

Todd McShay, ESPN: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State (trade with Giants to No. 11)

Walter Football: Zaven Collins, DE/OLB, Tulsa

The Athletic NFL Staff: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

Steve Palazzolo, Pro Football Focus: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama