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Patriots coach Bill Belichick: 'Interesting group' of quarterbacks available in 2021 NFL draft

Mark Daniels, The Providence Journal
·4 min read
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Bill Belichick isn’t going to come out and say it. The Patriots coach won’t allude to it. He really won’t even hint at the possibility of the Patriots drafting a quarterback in the 2021 NFL draft later this month.

That was clear as the Patriots coach talked on Thursday during his annual pre-draft press conference. Belichick swatted away questions about the quarterback position with ease. However, considering the Patriots quarterback depth chart is Cam Newton (on a one-year deal), Jarrett Stidham and Jake Dolegala, it’s obvious the Patriots are doing everything in their power to study this year’s quarterback draft class.

If you look at whom the Patriots have sent to several of these top prospect’s Pro Days, it’s clear the Pats are prepared to draft a quarterback if the right opportunity presents itself.

“As always, there's some interesting players,” Belichick said when asked about this year’s quarterback draft class. “I think we talked earlier about the draft process. Some players didn’t play. Some players played a full season. Some played a partial season. So, when you look at the players at that position, I think you see a lot of differences in the 2020 season. A lot of it is by conference, but there are some other circumstances as well. It’s an interesting class. It’s an interesting group of guys. Some are very strong in some skills. Some seem very strong in other skills. It's definitely an interesting group.”

MORE: BYU quarterback Zach Wilson is the buzz of the NFL draft. But does his potential warrant the hype?

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick looks on prior to a game against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium.
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick looks on prior to a game against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium.

During his opening statement, Belichick announced that former Patriots defensive coordinator and Lions head coach Matt Patricia has been “heavily involved" in the team’s pre-draft process. Belichick then named three staff members who are in charge of this year’s draft process.

“Dave Ziegler, Eliot Wolf and Matt Groh have really carried the ball on this,” Belichick said. “They’ve done a ton of work and their respected staffs that they oversee as well. In particular, those three guys have really done a tremendous amount of work, evaluation, organization and have done a great job of putting things together.”

That comment was noteworthy because those three people have been seen around the country, scouting the quarterbacks in this draft class.

On Wednesday, Ziegler (who took over for Nick Caserio) and Groh (a pro scout) joined offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels at Ohio State to see Justin Fields work out. This marked the second pro day for Fields, who is one of the top five quarterback prospects in this draft. It also marked the second time the Pats saw Fields as Wolf (a scouting consultant) was at Ohio State’s first pro day on March 30.

Based on Belichick’s comment, the three men in charge of this predraft process along with McDaniels have all been to Ohio State to see Fields throw the ball. But Fields isn’t the only quarterback connected to the Patriots in this draft.

In fact, almost all of them are.

Wolf went to BYU, where quarterback Zach Wilson worked out. Groh went to North Dakota State, where Trey Lance worked out. Belichick and McDaniels were at Alabama where Mac Jones worked out. McDaniels then went to Florida to see quarterback Kyle Trask. At the Senior Bowl, the Pats met with Jones and quarterbacks Jamie Newman and Kellen Mond. The Patriots also had a representative at Mond’s Texas A&M pro day, and the Boston Globe reported that he’s been in contact with McDaniels.

The Patriots were also present at pro days with quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence (Clemson), Davis Mills (Stanford), Sam Ehlinger (Texas), Ryan Willis (Virginia Tech) and Collin Hill (South Carolina).

Belichick was also asked about the trend at quarterback with players being more athletic compared to a typical pocket passer. He wouldn’t say that he prefers either but did say the team is willing to make their offense work with anyone who is talented.

“Every team has their own style of player. Their own style of offense,” Belichick said. “You’re looking for a player who will fit your style or maybe you want to adapt your style to that player… We’ve had a couple different styles of players at that position and we’ve tried to do that in those examples.”

This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Patriots' Bill Belichick: 'Interesting' quarterbacks in 2021 NFL draft